Day two of the separation. For months, I had been in the company of only men - the manliest men. Suddenly, I had been pushed into bathing, scrubbing, flower oil rubbed into my skin and the underneath of my nails picked at until clean and stinging-
'This is the cleanest you'll ever be,' Edra had admitted. She'd braided her beard that day, and little bells hung from the ends. 'Our men like a little bit of dirt on their women. My Bombur prefers for me to have flour on my nose. For some reason that gets him very-'
I had clamped my hands over my ears. 'I do not need to know that!'
Edolin shook her head, back from drawing the second bath. Apparently, this one would be the longest and most painful. 'You will be a married woman soon, Lady Millie. There is no sense in blushing and stammering about such things. You do know what the expect tomorrow night, do you not? I have never asked your age-'
'I know what to expect'.
Edolin huffed. 'Well, there's no need to snap, my Lady'.
Edra had rolled her eyes, bells jingling. 'Lady Millie, would you recite The Seven Dwarven blessings to me? And then the vows - it would not do for you to forget them during the ceremony'.
'It would not,' agreed Edolin.
I nodded, allowing Edra to take my hand and begin scrubbing at my nails. 'Er, blessed are you Mahal who has created everything for the glory of Eru-'
All these words, and I had no idea what they even meant.
'I can clean down there by myself, thank you,' I had responded curtly, pressed tightly against the side of the tub that was far away from Edolin. Edra was leaning against the wall, unfolding a roughly made towel. 'Who said it even needed cleaning, huh?!'
Conforming to the expectation of men. Typical. I might not clean it for a year to prove a point.
No, I won't.
That sounds gross.
Edra had laughed at that. 'Lady Millie, you are a funny one'.
Edolin, on the other hand, looked stern. 'Lady Millie, do as you must. I was merely trying to help you-'
'You can help me by not calling me Lady. How many times have I told you that? If you're going to go down there, you can at least call me Millie. Honestly, Edolin'. I grinned around my words, pleased to hear Edra's soft and badly concealed snort. 'Really, though. I can do the rest myself. You said something about burning some leaves in my room-?'
'For luck, yes'.
'Well, why don't you do and do that? I can get myself out of the bath. Really'.
Edolin had sighed but given in, in the end. Edra turned her back while I cleaned away, then offered me the towel once all was done. I'd felt smooth from the oils and sleepy from the warmth of the bath, but the moment I was tucked way into bed, I was suddenly wide awake.
'Don't go yet,' I said quickly, sitting up in my bed. 'I'm...'
'Nervous?' Edra asked, smiling a little and sitting at the end of my bed. Edolin stood, arms held in front of her and the leaves burning behind her in a smoky mist. They had smelt like lavender. 'Would you like to talk about something, La- Millie? I find that helps me sleep - just talking'.
I nodded, scrunching up the the covers at my thighs. 'Have you seen my...Kili, have you seen him today?'
'Aye. He has been with his mother and brother for a lot of the day. He asked of you, but we remained quiet - we cannot tell him of what goes on behind these doors. You may say anything on the eve of your wedding, and we will not tell a soul'. Edolin, bowed her head.
'What if I told you I was terrified of walking through those doors tomorrow?'
'Then I would tell you that is a perfectly normal feeling, Millie. You are walking into the unknown tomorrow - Royalty, no less. Tomorrow, you will be a Princess'.
'This isn't making me very sleepy'.
Edra had leaned forward, her kind smile urging me to look up. 'Tell me what will happened in the ceremony tomorrow, Millie. You know every step of what will happen - and Prince Kili will be there with you every step of the way. I know you have no family, pardon me, my Lady. But this Kingdom already loves you, for we know that you helped kill the Dragon and bring peace to Erebor. Even if you fall hard on the stone, we will continue to love you'.
You weren't there when I sent a big ass Dragon to a town of innocents, though, were you?
'Well, I have parasites!' I insisted loudly. 'I have parasites so big, that I named them! There's Clive, Leon, Stevie-'
'It's Millie. Jesus, don't you men ever learn that? The trolls didn't-' You did not just survive the troll attack. You did not just name your parasites. You did not just get flattened by a ginger Dwarf.
You are getting married to a Prince.
'Giva!' I sat bolt up right. Edra and Edolin were carrying forward a wash basin, and I was getting married today. Oh ho ho. Jesus Christ. 'I'm gonna be sick'. Giva bolted back, petting her beard in a protective manner. 'No, no. I'm fine. False alarm'. Do Princesses swallow their puke so they don't vomit on their maids?
'Oh, God,' I croaked.
'Now, we need to clean you and wake you up, Lady Millie. Up, up! Yes, there we go. Your hair should be easy to tame, from the looks of it. That is a blessing from Mahal. We have four rounds of the clock before we must meet the groom and his family in the Great Chamber. Imagine how many royal marriages have taken place in there, Lady Millie!
'And now you and Prince Kili will be one of them'.
Prince Kili. Had he been hoarded out of bed by Fili and the rest of the Dwarves? Somehow, it had felt odd, to not be woken by them and kicked into action. With them here, I would be laughing and doing my own hair, exactly how Kili would see it every day.
I could sneak off to see him. The two days were technically over. I was going to see him that day anyway.
Yeah, to marry him, idiot.
Palms are sweaty. Knees weak, arms are heavy. Spaghetti. Spaghetti. Spaghetti.
'Ha,' I had snorted, earning a worried look from Edolin as Edra pushed me into the chair. 'Sorry,' I mumbled. 'Where's the dress, Giva? Don't let me down now'.
Giva grinned, wispy beard twitching. 'Not yet. Not until you are all covered in gold, then I will give you your dress, Lady Millie'.
'Giva,' I sighed. 'Just Millie'.
I splashed water on my face whilst they set out three boxes. The boxes were old, wooden and the grooves had been filled with rusting gold. 'The Dragon never could get into small rooms, so many precious things were saved, thank Mahal. These three boxes are filled with the jewellery I have been showing you, Lady Millie. Royal gold, it is. After the exchanging of vows, you will keep these boxes until it is your daughter or your sons intended getting married. Isn't that just splendid?'
Smile like you have no doubts. 'Of course it is, Giva. I can barely remember what I picked, I hope you do?'
Knots were yanked out of my hair, sleep was rubbed from my eyes...and I never once had to leave my seat. They wouldn't let me. I'd felt like a bloody prisoner, not a bride. By the time Dis came knocking on my door, I was having my face rubbed as Edolin murmured, 'There must be some whiskers here somewhere...'
'Edolin,' called Dis, her tone mildly reprimanding. 'Please refrain from invading Lady Millie's jaw, so'.
Yeah, Edolin. Quit invading my chin. Perv.
Edolin gave my chin a small pat, but had bowed away from me.
Dis approached me, hands going to my hair, sniffing. 'Kruatz leaves. I always hated the smell. When I was round with Fili, my mother would burn them every night in the last moon of my pregnancy. I would throw them out of the window once she left, of course. My husband hated the smell, too'.
I'd smiled, allowing her to gather all of my hair and push it over over one shoulder. 'Your hair is thick,' she said, nodding. 'Quite lovely'.
'Isn't it beautiful, Lady Dis?' said Giva, in the middle of showing Edra the headpiece I had picked. 'Once and if your beard grows, Millie, it will be thick and soft. I can tell. It's odd. You are the same age as Kili, yet no beard has grown. Perhaps it is why the two of your were drawn to one another'.
Dis stiffened. I could only imagine what bullying Kili had gone through when he was younger.
I had to stop myself from looking mildly horrified. 'Yeah'.
Suddenly, hands were in my hair. 'Wha-?'
'Edolin, you take the right side, I will take the left. Remember, Prince Kili's braid will be at the front, so we must leave space for it. The braids of the exchanging of vows are loosely woven, Lady Millie, so they may be tugged free once the wedding is over'.
I wonder who will be doing the tugging, huh?
Dis is in the room, you pervert. Kili's mother.
And so, I had to sit there whilst Edra and Edolin braided sections of my hair, though not all of it, mind you. Three braids on each side. The reason it took so long was because they braided thick gold lines into my hair, making my head feel heavy. Every time I turned my head too quickly, it was like being punched in the face.
'Have you seen Kili today?'
Dis, who sat on the edge of my bed, had smiled secretly. 'He is feeling rather sorry for himself this morning. Too much ale, it would seem'.
I grinned. 'Good'.
But the grin I gave her wouldn't stop the nerves in my tummy and the wringing of my hands. I had been very, very, scared and very, very nervous. It didn't help that Dis would not take her eyes off of me for even a second. She was a froward woman, I knew, but I often wondered whether she would just quit with the eyes.
'Did you know that ants stretch when they wake up?'
Edolin paused. 'What?'
'They stretch. When they wake up. Just something I picked up on my travels'. I turned a little, eyebrows raised and smile a little manic. 'Bet you didn't know that. I told the Company that whilst we were delirious and in Mirkwood. They were impressed'.
'That's a lie'.
The voice was muffled through the door. Dis turned quickly, eyebrows shooting up. Edra and Edolin, on the other hand, had looked scandalised. I could only grin. 'Nori!'
'Mister Nori, have you been eavesdropping on a very private tradition? I should call the royal guards right now!' I could hear the teasing in Dis's voice, but I could also hear the curiosity. She stood, making her way over the closed door. 'What is it you want?'
'Well, my Lady Dis, I have a gift for the ant whisperer from your son, as it goes'. He paused. 'Honestly, Millie, you're starting to sound like those Elves. You'll be telling us that a tree told you that they yawn when they're tired'.
'Haven't you ever heard of Ents, Mister Nori?'
Ents. That sounds very familiar. Ents...
'Codswallop. Now, Lady Dis, may I present this gift to Lady Millie, or shall I instead give it to you?' In the end, Dis opened the door a tiny amount and allowed a dirty looking hand to pass the shiny, familiar, beautiful gift through the door. Of course, the shininess only showed through the thick towel it was wrapped in.
'In a troll cave? Well, I certainly hope that you cleaned it before wielding it. You wouldn't want to catch any...diseases, now'.
'Sister, what diseases could Millie possibly get from a dirty sword? Honestly, the things you come out with - pass me the belt, thank you, Lady Dis'.
My mind was already wandering off to troll STD's.
With my eyes still closed, I let them pull something over my head, then begin tugging at it and tightening it. Whilst Edra wrapped a chain around my ankle, she began humming a soft tune. I recognized. it.
Far over the Misty-
I closed my eyes tighter, fists clenching as the deep, rumbling voice of Thorin pushed itself into my mind. Not now. I could only remember the warmth of Bilbo's home, and the unexpected things that had been happening to me. I didn't know what I was agreeing to - none of us had.
'Arms up, Millie'.
I complied, and something was pushed onto my arms - like a heavy coat, only longer and wrapping around me like a dress, on top of the shift I already wore.
'Push her hair forward - yes, like that. The headpiece? Yes, there, perfect. Only one ring...if it is what you want, Lady Millie. Loosen the belt, so it hangs - oh, lovely. Gold and blue suit you well - oh, what? She's going to see the colour in a moment, anyway, Giva. Now?'
Giva spoke next. 'You can open your eyes now, Lady Millie'.
I'd opened my eyes, sighing. 'Just Millie-' I stopped short. 'Holy shit'.
'No, no. That's the reaction I wanted!' gushed Giva, whilst Dis laughed heartily from behind me, rounding my form and then standing beside the mirror.
'There's a Dwarven lass, if I do say so myself'.
And shit, I actually agreed. Dwarves didn't dress elegantly, not like Elves or anything like that. My dress was blue. One layer of blue and gold and black, weaving into a lovely design. On top of that, was the coat like thing they had draped over my shoulders. It was still a part of the dress, but it was a heavy, dark blue, overlapping the patterned shift.
Blue, apparently, was the theme. The sleeves, which split down the middle and rose in an open v to the dip in my elbow, showed my skin. On my skin, there was a twirling mass of blue paint, dots travelling with it from my elbow to my wrist. On my chest, my collarbones were lines with blue.
My face, though, had me blinking stupidly. True to the tradition, my left cheek has a singular, blue line. On the other cheek, the paint started at the corner of my eye, dipping away to travel along my cheekbone, and then curving to end at the start of my jawline. Another started midway down the bridge of my nose, to end at the bottom of my chin. I smiled and, thankfully, the paint on my lips did not break.
I grunted out a funny little noise, eyes trailing along the golden belt hung loosely around the dress, sealing together the opening that showed the blue and gold patterns. Kili's ring glinted on my finger. Bracelets and anklets jangled when I walked. I single bell hung from one braid. Gold was woven into the few braids in my hair, which was pushed forward. It looked like a mane.
Beyonce eat your heart out.
My skirts felt heavy, so I had practically stumbled into the arms of Giva. 'Amazing,' I wailed. 'How did you do this? It's awesome, Giva!'
'Is that good?'
'Yes!' I spun to face the mirror once again. 'Man, Kim Kardashian don't have nothin' on my wedding day,' I muttered, grinning at this stranger in front of me. I knew that when I took the dress and jewls off I would once again look like myself, but for that moment I had looked like a Dwarven Queen.
I had really felt like I was part of that Kingdom.
'Are you ready?' murmured Dis, looking at me. 'King Fili will be here to escort us to the Royal Chamber, and into the presence of the court and Kili'.
My gut twisted and the glee soon left. 'Now? I thought we had more time to...' To what?
Edra, Edolin and Giva said their goodbyes, insisting that they had to leave to get their seats and to meet with their families. 'It has been an honour readying you for this day'. I can't remember who said it - either Edra and Edolin - I'd been too nervous to even see straight.
I remember grabbing Giva, though, and thanking her for what she had made me.
When it was just myself and Dis, I stared hard into the mirror. 'When Mister Nori gave me your sword, Lady Millie, he whispered something to me. For luck, he said. From what I know of your times away with those Dwarves, you sword was with you through everything. In the end, it saved your life'.
'Oin saved my life, and Fili. So did Kili - he found me'.
'But your sword helped you with every battle you faced. And marriage...marriage is a kind of battle too'. Dis nodded to the sword, which lay on my bed. 'Do you give me permission to hold your sword and attach it to your belt, for luck?'
I turned to her, watching her raised eyebrows and pointed look. Marriage is a kind of battle too. 'Yes. You can hold it'.
The moment Snowthorn was resting safely at my hip - hello old friend - I felt a little more like that girl who faced a hell of a lot of things, many of them so much more scarier that marriage.
'It's just Kili,' I reminded myself in a whisper, as Dis went to open the door at the sound of a knocking Fili. 'The guy who told you he loved you while drunk on a staircase in Laketown. Screw being nervous'.
But still, my stomach twisted.
'You ready for this, my Lady Alexandria Millicent Fournier?'
I turned, holding at my skirts and smiling nervously at Fili. He wore all of the fine things of a King, with gold pieces in his growing beard and something like a crown on his head. His healing eye had been gauged shut, but the other twinkled in a way that it hadn't in so long.
'Mahal. You look beautiful, Mills. If my brother wasn't marrying you-'
He had laughed. 'Sorry, Ma. Come on, Millie. The whole Kingdom's waiting for you'. He held out an arm, and I had taken it, being careful not to smudge the paint on my own. He dipped his blonde head, and whispered, 'Feel like a Dwarf yet, my Lady?'
I smiled. 'More than ever'.
Oh, God. I'd forgotten.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
The doors stared at me like two, wide grey eyes. They would open soon, I had known, and when that happened I wasn't sure whether I would go into autopilot, or faint.
Or throw up.
'Breathe. I know what it's like to have them all staring at you. I had my coronation not too long ago, remember?' Fili had squeezed my arm. I stared at the armed guards on their side of the door. I thought of Kili, on the other side of the door. Dis had already gone in; the signal that I was soon to follow.
'I might be sick'.
'No, you won't'.
Kili is waiting for you. That's all that matters. Just look at Kili and remember you're stronger than you ever thought, and it's gotta show now more than ever. They will all be watching you.
'No,' I agreed, breathing hard and dancing on my feet. 'I won't. I won't. I won't'.
'You're Millie Fournier'. I remember seeing that smile tug at his lips, mirroring the words I would always say to give myself bravery.
'Hell yeah, I am'.
Fili nodded at the guards. 'Now, Millie'. With a great gust and a pull of their beefy arms, the doors had swung open, ruffling my skirts. And suddenly, I knew hundreds and hundreds of pairs of eyes were looking at me. My heart slammed against my chest, and I didn't even realize we were walking until a warmer air hit my face and we were in the Royal Chamber.
It was large and stone, is all I can say on the place. Then again, I had been staring fixedly at the floor in front of me and where my feet were going, so I can't say I paid much attention to the cavernous room.
I clutched at Fili's arm desperately, not knowing how to look up (how to even breathe) until, after two days of separation, I finally saw him.
And, like a corny movie, silence reigned my mind.
It kinda fell into place after that, because he was looking at me too whilst standing at the end of that stupid aisle with eyes and eyes and eyes staring at me as I walked toward him, a King by my side and Kingdom here to see me marry him.
What the hell have you done today?
I held my chin higher, pushed my shoulder back, loosened my grip on Fili's arm. I could see all of my Dwarven men at the front of the hall, but the widest smile belonged to Kili. Because of that, I had the mad urge to laugh over the coos of the women (and even some men) because this was probably the oddest and most spectacular thing that would ever happen to me.
I looked to Kili every step of the way, at his heavy blue robes, his gold, his sword, his soft looking hair and his eyes. His eyes were what I latched onto.
And then I was five steps from him. Then four. Then three. Then two. Then one.
And then I was next to him, and turning to him, and the words of the High Priest were one long, boring blur alongside the sight of Kili's grinning face. The paint on his face was the much the same of mine, and he must have been listening to what the Priest said because he reached forward with one, calloused hand and smudged the line on my left cheek.
With a surprisingly steady hand, I had done the same.
He was warm.
He shrugged off his cloak and handed it to his brother. I had no idea whether this was a part of the ceremony or something so casually Kili-like, but I went along with it all the same. Underneath, he was wearing clothes like Fili's, only lighter and bluer and golder.
The High Priest said something, and then raised a hammer above the both of us. Around us, peopled stayed stonily silent. This symbolizes the staying of Mahal's hammer by the grace of Eru - honestly, Edra had made me recite the exact meaning of every part of the ceremony. The silence was a show of respect - no one could talk whilst the Priest did.
I turned a little, catching the face of strangers and friends. Balin winked at me and Ori smiled merrily. And then, at the back of the Chamber, I saw that bloody Grey Wizard and his pointy hat.
Focus. They're all watching you.
After that, I knew that there would be the Khtruza. I like to think of it as the Dwarven wedding equivalent of the haka, only with less shirts and more body paint. In the space behind the High Priest, ten Dwarven men had filed in, standing side by side. The point of this was to stand tall, to accept the Dwarven traditions, to not back down.
Honestly, it had been pretty awesome.
They slammed their feet into the ground, arms folded and rough, Khuzdal words being spoken with every slam of skin against skin, and skin against stone. They stared, Kili and I stared back. They jutted their chins forward, I raised mine even higher.
Kili's finger ghosted against my elbow.
It was like a dance and a song. I can't explain it. The ground shook with their steps, their voices echoed like drums...it was intense.
They stopped, words cutting out without any real finish, and stared. From behind thick hair and beard, I saw a few smiles. They like you, Edra would say. They all already love you. Then, finally, they broke away with bowing and thumps to the left of their chests.
A show of respect.
I breathed out deeply.
'And now, we move onto the final words of this joyous ceremony. The Seven Blessings. Blessed are you...'
Boring. Can't we go back to the Khtruza?
I had looked at Kili again, biting back the smile and watching at he did the same. He would start, and then I would repeat. '...Mahal who has created everything for the glory of Eru...' It is a long and, sorry, boring list of Blessings, but the list ends with, 'Blessed are you Mahal who gladdens groom and bride'.
'In my Halls you will find a house, in your heart I will find a home'.
I cocked a brow at him, and he'd stifled a laugh.
I swallowed, allowing only him to see the mock reluctance in my eyes. 'In your Halls I will find a house, in my heart you will find a home'.
And that was that. I breathed in deeply, smiling nervously at Kili and listening as the Priest said, 'And now, if the groom and bride would bind hands'. Kili's left in my right. The golden string was brought forward and wrapped once around our hands. 'And thus, seal this marriage with a kiss'.
I don't know who moved faster, though considering the fact that I nearly toppled over, I think it might have been Kili. Bombur told me later that the Priest had looked a little scandalised by the ferocity of the kiss, but considering the sudden outburst of cheers from the Chamber, I can assume he was the only one who minded.
His beard was rough against my cheeks and the awkward hand holding made it hard to wrap one arm around his neck, but that moment was ours in that exhilarating kiss of finally being his.
And he mine.
Apparently after the exchanging of the vows, Dwarves throw being all calm and collected straight out of the window and instead turn to ale, dancing and singing.
Tables were thrown across the room and barrels of ale were hurled toward Kili and I. 'We're married,' I yelped, dazed, pulling my hands from the string and throwing it over his neck. I tugged him closer. 'Husband'.
'Wife,' he said lowly, dipping his head to mine to kiss me once again.
And then we had been attacked by Dwarves. Fili had wrapped his arms around me, introducing me to the laughing group of Dwarves to his new sister. Balin, Ori and Dori congratulated me, Dwalin started warning Nori that he couldn't try and steal Fili's crown, Oin and Gloin shook Kili's hand, Bombur and Bifur downed three ales in two minutes and Bofur kissed me sloppily on the cheek.
'Princess!' he had whooped.
'Finally,' I had sighed. 'I'm getting the recognition I deserve'.
Kili grinned, handing me an ale and taking a sip at the exact same time as me. 'We've shared our first drink,' he told me. 'That's a tradition that used to be'.
I had laughed at that, thinking of course and that it fit so well with the race of Dwarves. 'You know, where I'm from we share a dance, not a pint'.
Fili scoffed. 'How boring'. He pushed himself onto the table that had been pushed to the front of the Chamber, meant for the family and friends of the groom and bride, judging from who occupied it. Dis talked with Dwalin, and Nori watched in awe as Ori downed a flagon.
'You look so beautiful,' Kili said, causing me to look at him with a wide smile. 'I couldn't believe it when you walked in'. My smile had turned sour, and he laughed. 'Not like that! You just looked so...brave. You got my present'. He touched the space next to Snowthorn, at my waist. 'I kept her, to clean her and sharpen her'.
'It made me braver,' I admitted. 'I was so scared, but now,' I shrugged, sipping at my ale. 'Now I'm a Princess. How odd'.
'I know'. I met his stare and grinned, wider and wider and wider until his mouth was swallowing the extent of my smile. The festivities made such shows of affection acceptable, apparently.
'Mahal,' said Bofur. 'Now they're married, they'll never stop'.
Ah gosh I'm so scared about posting this. I'm tired and ill and it's such a long chapter, so tell me if I've made any stupid mistakes please?
THE WEDDING. DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I HAVE YEARNED FOR THIS MOMENT?
Firstly, if you want to know where I got the basis of the whole ceremony from, ask on my tumblr at kiliyousosilly because doesn't let you post websites (which is rly annoying) so yeah. Seriously though, the person of whom I found who wrote down Dwarven wedding traditions went into insane detail and did so much research so please ask for the link and give them credit because they did so much research for what they found and like I am far too lazy to do that so kudos to them (and thank you like this chapter would have been so shit without that)
Next chapter will feature the wedding night and like idk man I don't even know how write that without it being weird idk hit me up
Thank you for the reviews! How did we even get to this many reviews?