EARLY ONE MORNING
written by milady oakenshield

Three little dwarflings leave their rooms as fast as they could, nearly tripping over themselves. They tiptoe down the hall to their parents' bedroom, and wait just outside the door, listening for movement from inside.

The girl, with hair like fire, and eyes deep brown as mahogany, asks her brother, "Do you think they're still asleep?"

"Of course there are!" Her twin answers.

"Sh!" The elder rounds on them, shushing them both. Then he grips the handle and pushes the door open, freezing for a moment when the door creeks, then pauses, and a silence befalls the air but when nothing comes of it, he pokes his head inside.

The middle boy cranes his neck. "Are they awake?" And his sister pokes her head in after him.

The elder studies the lump under the sheets, the deep snoring, the curtain of black hair covering their father's face, their mother's soft breathing; but the conclusion satisfies him, and he grins, then steps back, pulling the door closed, and his siblings step back too.

In a whispered voice, he says, "Come on," then slowly ushers them back down the hallway.

They walked in through their kitchen.

"What are we doing in here?" his sister asks.

The elder brother grabbed a chair from the kitchen table, pushed it against the counter and snatched a pot hanging over the wood stove, then handed it over to his brother, grabbed another and passed it off to his sister. He climbed down from the chair, then crossed the kitchen floor to the cold box, where he grabbed a small carton of eggs, different cheeses, bacon and milk. He balanced them carefully in his arms and kicked the cold box door closed with his right foot.

He displayed everything out on the kitchen table, "Here's the game plan," he said, then gathered the twins around him, "Frerin, you take the bacon," his brother nodded, "Freja, you're on coffee duty," she nodded, but then her brother added, "and don't burn it this time."

"That was just one time," she argued, trying to avoid her brothers' accusing glares, "I was, like, three then?"

"Whatever. I'll handle the eggs."

. .

The lump under the covers stirred.

Kili yawned, stretched his legs, and opened his eyes. When he saw the face of his sleeping wife in front of him, tendrils of red hair covering half of it, her soft breath hitting his face, he smiled then lifted a hand and moved her hair out of her eyes. He moved himself forward and placed a gentle kiss on her eyelids. She stirred. When she opened her eyes and saw him gleaming at her, Tauriel smiled and met his lips.

Brushing a piece of hair behind her pointed ear, he nuzzled his forehead against hers then kissed the tip of her nose. "Hi," he said, his voice sounding like a gentle whisper, and then he kissed her lips again.

"Hi."

"Good morning, wife."

Tauriel stretched. "It is morning isn't it?" She looked over her shoulder and squinted her eyes at the sunlight beaming through the window, and in the meantime, Kili had reached under his pillow. When she looked back, he had presented her with a small box.

"Merry Christmas." She sat up slowly, and then he followed in suite, and handed her the box.

She took the box from him, pulled off the ribbon so neatly tied around him – which she had to give him credit for because he never could tie one – and then opened the box. The look on her face made it all worth it. Inside was a necklace with a green tear drop gem in the middle. Tauriel smiled then lifted her eyes to Kili's face and kissed him.

As the kiss pulled apart, he took the necklace from the box, put the empty box on his side table, and then clasped the necklace around her neck. "I had that gem in my possession for the longest time. It was something I took away with me from Erebor."

"It is truly a beauty," she said with a smile, though hiding pain in her heart she felt for him.

"The perfect gift for the perfect woma- " he trailed off, scrunched up his face, and took a good whiff of the smell hovering in the air. The expression he had had dropped. Something smelt like it was burning, something coming from the kitchen.

Husband and wife climbed out of bed. Kili pulled his trousers on, and Tauriel threw a robe over her shoulders. She slipped her feet into a pair of house slippers then trudged out of their bedroom after her husband.

. .

"Oh, hi daddy," the little boy exclaimed as his parents walked into the kitchen, nearly dropping the carton of milk but managing a tight grip on it the last second.

Firlin and Freja looked up as well; the eldest child had been trying to cool off the burning bacon in the pan, while the youngest gave her parents the best shit eating grin ever. Her face was covered in flour and eggs – Kili didn't even want to know.

The adults tried not to roll their eyes but the site of their children attempting what looked like them to be breakfast was too charming. While Kili grabbed the milk carton from Frerin and placed it on the table, Tauriel scooped up her daughter and carried her into the bathroom to get cleaned up. Frerin giggled and looked up at his da, giving him a grin that reminded him so much of himself at his son's age.

Kili couldn't be mad at his boy, or any of them for that matter. He kissed the top of his son's head then crossed the kitchen to help Firlin. "So whose idea was this?" he asked as he took over washing the singed pan – Tauriel wouldn't be happy at the prospect of losing yet another cooking pan, but she'd get over it quickly enough – and his eldest grabbed cups from the cabinet.

"It was- " His son started to speak.

And then Frerin cut in. " –all of ours, daddy."

After washing the pan as much as possible, but realizing it was beyond all hope when he couldn't scrape off the baked on bacon pieces, Kili tossed it out in the trash and grabbed a dish rag to clean up the milk spill on the counter.

Frerin jumped up from the table and raced over to the counter, ducking to avoid his da's arm, then tried to grab hold of the dish rag. But his idea of helping didn't work out as he thought. He was far too small to reach the top of the counter, let alone the dish rag. Kili stopped cleaning and scooped the boy into his arms then allowed his son to grab the rag and continue cleaning. Firlin set five places at the table, then grabbed the pan with the eggs and forked out a small amount onto each of the five plates.

Tauriel came back from the bathroom, Freja propped against her right hip, and then the little girl saw her da and brothers working diligently and cried out for her da. When Kili looked over, his daughter was all smiles, with a freshly cleaned face.

"You'll be proud of me, daddy," she exclaimed, "I didn't burn the coffee this time!"

Kili glanced at the coffee pot with a chuckle. Then he looked back at his daughter and set Frerin on his feet. Freja wriggled under her mum's arms until Tauriel set her down, then the child scampered over to the table and pulled herself into a chair next to her brothers.

. .

Sometime after breakfast, when the dishes were cleaned and everything put away, Kili and Tauriel sat by the fire nursing cups of warm coffee in their hands while their children sat there on the floor in front of them.

Frerin was the first one to reach for his present and he tore into it with such enthusiasm that Kili chuckled. And then the young boy's eyes lit up when he saw the hand carved bow. He had been admiring his da's bow for years, ever since he was old enough to crawl, and always had wanted one of his own. With a squeak, he jumped to his feet and hugged his da's legs. Kili chuckled and patted the boy's head.

Then Freja was next. She didn't tear into her present quite as enthusiastic as her twin brother but the bright smile on her face was enough. Then she saw the pair of elven daggers and picked them up in her hands. They had at one point belonged to her mum, and it was Tauriel's decision to pass them along to her daughter, despite protests at first from Kili. He learned to accept the fact that his daughter wasn't a baby anymore, and she was becoming more and more like her mum every day. She looked more elf than the two boys did, who took on more of the dwarvish traits from their da.

Firlin had remained quiet, watching his siblings enjoy themselves. Then Kili placed his coffee on the table, stood up, and then fetched a long box from the back bedroom. He called his eldest to him then handed over the box. His son looked at him oddly then carefully unwrapped it. Just as he pulled off the lid, he stopped and his smile completely faded.

Frerin and Freja, who had been holding their gifts, looked up. "What is, Fee?" Frerin asked, and his sister had added with, "Show us what you got!" she cried.

And slowly, carefully, Firlin reached into the box and pulled out two identical swords. These weren't just any swords; these were special. "These are… " he started, but trailed off, and looked up at his da with soft eyes.

"I think you're of the age you should have them, my son," Kili said, "And when the snow settles, you and I can begin your training." He paused, as if something was caught in his throat, then he pushed back a braid that had fallen in front of his son's face.

Firlin took a good look at the swords and held them out for his siblings to see them. They didn't know of their specialness like he did. They were still too young to understand, but they instantly began precious to Firlin. He thanked his da and Kili held his son close to him, kissing the crown of his head, and muttering something in their native tongue.

. .

Later that day when the children were outside in the snow playing, and Kili and Tauriel had a quiet moment to themselves without their three rambunctious children running amuck in the house, it was Tauriel who had yet to give her gift to her husband. So as Kili smoked at his pipe in front of the fire and listened to the laughter of his sons and daughter outside, smirking as his daughter shrieked when she was pelted with a snowball, Tauriel had vanished into their bedroom and come out a moment later with a small package wrapped in brown paper.

Kili looked up as she walked in, then put his pipe down and opened up his arms as she crawled onto his lap. She curled back his hair as her husband ripped into the paper.

He looked confused when he pulled out a small, white toy. But it was oddly shaped, and there were things hanging from it. The look in his eyes were priceless. Tauriel couldn't help her chuckle. Kili looked at her raising a brow. "Uh, darling, what am I holding?"

"Well," she started, adjusting herself in his lap, then curling one arm around his neck, "I was considering hanging it above the baby's crib… " She stopped, looking into his eyes, waiting for his reaction.

"The baby's cr –"

It only took a second. And when next he looked into his wife's face, she was smiling from end to end. Eventually, his mouth broke into a wide smile to mimic hers, and then he was kissing her deeply, nearly bending her over the arm of the chair as he did. Tauriel was laughing, and kissing him back just as deeply, just as passionately.

When at last she pulled away from him, she asked, "Do you ever regret denouncing your title? Giving up your crown? Living here instead?"

"No," he answered, "You and the children are better than any crown could ever be. Everything I know is here, in this house, and I wouldn't change a damn thing."

Kili smiled.

Author's Note: This was just an idea I started this morning as a Christmas tribute. I know it's completely AU but screw it. I thought it was a nice touch anyway.

Merry Christmas!