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Fili and Kili, once brothers in arms, now brothers in their best robes, strode through the corridors side by side, their individual colors hanging from their shoulders and their coronets placed over their neatly braided hair. One wore a smirk while the other frowned deeply, dreading the night to come.

“You seem thrilled,” Fili said, looking sideways at his brother.

“The only part of this night I am looking forward to is the end of it.”

Fili chuckled. “You should be grateful Thorin went to all this trouble-”

“To throw a ball with the specific goal of finding me a dam to court? Oh, yeah, Fi. I’m so grateful.”

Fili nudged him, making Kili sidestep a bit and glare. “Don’t be such a brat.”

They came to the end of the corridor. To the left was the way to the Grand Hall, but Kili took a sharp right without missing a beat. He didn’t acknowledge Fili’s grunts of protest until he stood in front of a familiar door. “We have to pick up (Y/N) first,” he said before knocking.

Fili’s face crinkled in confusion. Sure, (Y/N) was their closest friend, but he didn’t think she’d be invited to the ball. Nor did he think she would have wanted to attend. But out came her voice from the cracks in the door to her chambers, inviting them inside.

Kili walked straight through, sitting on (Y/N)’s bed with a plop that sent the woodwork creaking. Fili, however, was stopped in the doorway, the use of his legs momentarily stolen by the sight of (Y/N) in a dark blue gown. The silken fabric fell from her shoulders, billowing around her arms and cinching at the waist. It flowed behind her in a curtain as she floated about the room looking for the hair clip she was always misplacing.

“(Y/N), you look beautiful,” Kili said. His head was currently laying off the edge of the bed and he was seeing her upside down. (Y/N) shot him a quiet thank you and laughed at his hanging tresses as they just touched the floor.

“Yes, you-you look… I didn’t know you were attending tonight,” Fili managed.

She spun, making her dress fly about her legs and then swarm inwards again like a hive of bees. “I was planning to. That is, if I can find anything to set my hair with. Do you see my clip anywhere? I just… I just had it over there…” She continued pulling out drawers and pushing them back in, lifting blankets from the bed and setting them back down, checking every flat surface she could see. She even rolled Kili over on the bed to make sure he hadn’t sat on it.

As (Y/N) paced, Fili heard something skid across the floor. She passed the bed and he saw the silver clip glinting in the light of the window. He bent to pick it up, but as he did so, (Y/N) turned quickly and fell over him. He snatched the clip and caught her with his other arm, placing her back on her feet and steadying her. “Found it,” he said.

“Mahal, thanks,” she sighed. She straightened a part of his robe she’d ruffled and turned to her mirror, whipping her deft fingers through her hair to twist the sides back and braid them together down her spine.

Fili sat next to Kili’s head and watched her. “I’m glad you’re coming with us tonight. You can keep me company while Kili goes off dancing with every dam in Erebor.”

“Actually, (Y/N) is coming to keep me from doing just that.” Only when his brother dragged his gaze from (Y/N) at the glass did Kili continue. “I’m escorting her. We’re courting,” he said with a proud smile on his face. Even upside down, Fili could see every tooth in his mouth.

“We’re fake courting,” (Y/N) said, eyeing Kili through the mirror.

That was the moment Fili realized she was wearing Kili’s colors. His chest tightened. “Why?”

“Because I love Tauriel. We’ve been courting for months and until Uncle accepts that and stops holding these balls to find me a dam, I will keep finding a way to get out of them.”

Fili knew this. It was a topic that often came up in their conversations. But (Y/N) was never involved. He looked to her through the mirror. “And how did you get roped into this lie?”

She shrugged, fastening the clip and whirling to him, sending a look over her shoulder to study the back of her gown. “I wanted to go to the ball.”

He stood and met her, anticipating her question, and tucked in the laces of her gown for her. “I didn’t know you had an interest in them. You should have told us. I would have brought you.”

“And stop every dam in Erebor from falling at your feet?” she asked, taking Kili’s outstretched arm.

“Yeah, Fi. Maybe you’ll find a lover this evening,” Kili said, leading (Y/N) into the corridors. Before the door to her chambers was closed, (Y/N) turned back and reached for Fili’s hand, dragging him next to her so the three of them walked to the Grand Hall in a row.

“Are you sure you want to risk Thorin’s wrath?” Fili asked in her ear. “If he finds out-”

“He won’t,” (Y/N) said. “I love your uncle, but he’s clueless about this stuff.” Fili watched her thumb fiddle with the embroidered pattern on his sleeve as she spoke. “As far as he knows, Kili and I have been courting for a fortnight and in a couple days we’ll tell him it didn’t work out. No harm done, really.”

Fili hummed as the three of them approached the tall doors to the hall. “I hope for your sake things go according to plan.” He dropped his arm and stepped back as Kili announced them, but (Y/N) waved Fili closer.

“Stay with us.”

He couldn’t help but obey. Her hand brushed his side as she again looped her arm through his. It almost made him shiver, but he ignored the sensation and pushed his shoulders back as the doors of the hall opened and he and his brother led her through.

Fili watched (Y/N)’s eyes blow wide as she took in the Grand Hall in all its glory. Her excitement made him see it all afresh- the chandeliers holding hundreds of candles, the tile floors that shone with their reflections, the tables full of glorious food and drink. Her fingers flexed around his arm, squeezing it tightly and pulling him closer. For a moment, he selfishly wished he didn’t have to share this moment with anyone but her. But he shook the thought away.

“And to think you both complain of these balls,” (Y/N) said.

Kili scoffed, but Fili said, “They’re usually not as striking as this. Sometimes they can grow boring quickly.”

As they walked through the floor to the high table, the row of three had to break. (Y/N)’s arm stayed wrapped in Kili’s but she kept Fili close behind with a tight grip on his hand. He knew she was probably nervous and wanted both her experienced friends near. That was all, he convinced himself.

When there were less dwarfs to wriggle through, she turned to Fili. “They wouldn’t be so boring if you danced once in a while.”

“Fili is the last dwarf you’ll see on the dance floor,” Kili said, making (Y/N) laugh.

Fili rolled his eyes. “You will see me on the floor when I’ve found the right partner.” He heard Kili hum and met (Y/N)’s smile as she flicked it over her shoulder.

He watched Kili and (Y/N) greet Thorin before moving to their places at the other end of the high table. (Y/N) bobbed a graceful curtsy and Thorin took her hand, saying something to make her laugh. Pride fluttered in his chest as he watched those around him gaze at her in wonder. Was that the dam who helped reclaim Erebor? And now she’s at the high table? She must be marvelous company. She must be of the upmost importance to the royal family.

She was.

Fili followed, bowing to his uncle and shaking his hand. He barely listened to Thorin speak of his hopes of Kili finding a dam to wed on this night. He was busy watching (Y/N) thank the servant who adjusted her chair for her and placed a silk napkin on her lap. Her hand rose to squeeze Kili’s arm as her lips moved a mile a minute in her excitement. When she leaned her head back to laugh at his brother, Fili interrupted his uncle’s musings and excused himself, moving to join them.

He sat at the end of the table, on the other side of (Y/N). Her cheeks were already rosy from the few sips of port she’d had and her nervous hands kept smoothing her skirts under the table. He grabbed her fingers before they could slide away again and she spun to look at him. He leaned to her ear.

“There’s no reason for you to fret tonight. You are radiant and adored by everyone in this room. You can do no wrong,” he said.

“I feel like everyone is staring at me,” she whispered as if anyone would be able to hear her except Fili. “But I know at least one who is not. One who has been staring at you since we arrived.”

He was lost in the scent of her hair, unable to detect the meaning of her words. “Hm?”

She nodded her head and Fili followed her gaze to a dam on the edge of the floor who was indeed watching him. “Do you know who that is?” (Y/N) asked.

“I don’t believe I’ve seen her before,” he said, conscious of (Y/N)’s hand still in his.

“That is Princess Mevine. She and her family were driven out of her lands and into the Iron Hills after the orc attacks many years ago. They’ve yet to rebuild, so they live with Dain. Word has it that she’s very smart and kind and it’s plain to see she’s very beautiful…”

Fili hummed. “Why are you telling me this?”

She leaned back in her seat, huffing. “Are you daft? She’s been watching you all night! She’s obviously extremely interested in you, as you should be in her. You should dance with her, she’s practically begging you to ask her.” Her hand slipped from his grasp.

“Oh, n-no. I’m not- I don’t dance at these things-”

“Well, you should. With her. Kili and I are going,” she said, rising from her seat and taking Kili’s hand, ignoring his protests. “Join us and ask her!” she whispered in Fili’s ear as she passed behind him.

Fili let his shoulders hit the back of his chair and the remaining port in his goblet past his lips. He would not be dancing with anyone tonight, he decided. Instead, he would sit and sulk and watch (Y/N) have a wonderful time with Kili. But as the music began, even though she was with a dwarf other than himself, (Y/N)’s giddiness brought a smile to his face.

Kili bowed, losing his balance as he straightened, making him side step and making (Y/N) giggle behind her hand. She have him a low curtsey and Fili could see in her face that she was mocking the custom. Then the music swelled and the groups of dancers weaved in and out of each other, keeping their eyes glued to their partner’s. Well, that was the goal, anyway. Kili’s eyes were glued to his feet and he bumped into the dwarf next to him twice before the dance was over.

(Y/N), however, was the epitome of grace. Fili was amazed at her skill, but knew her too well not to notice her fingers twitching anxiously at her side. She stepped in to circle Kili, shoulder to shoulder, and she sneakily elbowed his side and bit her lip to cover her smile. In return, he grabbed her hand and pulled her to him with more bluster than necessary, sending her crashing to his chest. She swatted his shoulder but her laughter floated to Fili’s ears as the dance ended.

As the couples on the floor applauded the musicians, Fili watched a server enter the Grand Hall from the kitchen door. He carried a tray of the cream covered melon rounds Fili knew (Y/N) went berserk for. He slid out of his seat and into the kitchens, stealing an entire plate of them for himself and winking at the cook. He popped one in his mouth before sneaking back into the hall and setting the dish down in (Y/N)’s empty place.

He expected her back by now, there was no way Kili would stick around on the floor for another dance. He looked through the room, barely seeing Princess Mevine grinning hopefully at him. (Y/N) wasn’t on the floor, she wasn’t at the table, he didn’t see her in the corridors… oh no.

“Ooh! Are these those cream balls Rava makes?” Kili asked.

Fili swatted his hand. “They’re not for you. How could you leave her alone with Uncle? Do you know what he’d do to her if he found out she’s been helping you deceive him?”

“Who are they for?” Kili asked, gesturing hopelessly toward the treats on (Y/N)’s place. Fili’s glare kept him talking. “Uncle loves (Y/N). Even if he did find out about our trick, all the blame would be mine. He’d never hold anything against her. Now, why does she get all the cream balls?”

Fili took his brother by the arm, pulling him toward the other end of the table where no guest or servant would hear their conversation. “What? Fi!” Kili whined. “What do you have to say that’s so secret even the desserts can’t overhear?”

Fili sucked in a breath. “I… I love her. I love (Y/N).”

Kili’s eyes blew wide. “What? You do? That’s great! I…” his entire face fell. “I didn’t know. Fi, I didn’t know or I would never have pulled her into this fake courting thing. I’m so sorry, brother. I didn’t mean to-”

Fili shook his head and set a hand on Kili’s shoulder. “It’s all right, Ki. I’m not angry with you. If anything, I’m angry at myself for taking this long to say it out loud.”

“Now that you have, you have to tell her,” Kili said. Fili’s face scrunched and he shook his head, but Kili wouldn’t let him speak. “Ask her to dance. Fi, you’re the best dancer I know! Go sweep her off her feet.”

Fili looked over his brother’s shoulder. Thorin had kissed (Y/N)’s hand and she was making her way back to them. “(Y/N) is not that simple. It would take much more than dancing to make her fall in love with me.”

“But it’s a start,” Kili said.

Fili nodded. “I’ll return shortly. Don’t let her leave.”

He spun and ran down the stairs to the floor where the musicians were huddled, deciding what to play next. Fili nodded his head to the smiling dwarfs he passed, pushing his robes down as they fanned out with his speed. He whispered in the lead musician’s ear and shook his hand before climbing back to the high table.

“I love these things!” he heard (Y/N) sing as he neared her. “They’re delicious! Who brought a whole tray? Fi, did you do this?”

He smirked and reached out his hand. “Come with me.”

“But-but the cream balls-”

“Will still be here when you return,” he said as she reluctantly took his hand.

As he pulled her away, she wagged a finger at Kili. “Those are mine. Every single one of them. I know how many are there! I will know if you take one!”

Fili couldn’t help but roll his eyes. On the bright side, he thought, if things didn’t go well between them, he’d know how to win her forgiveness.

He led her to the center of the floor and nodded to the musician he’d spoken to. Loud, soaring music boomed around him, but it didn’t drown out the raucous beating of his own heart. He pulled at his robes, pulling the fabric taught and defining his strong, sharp shoulders. After a deep breath, he asked (Y/N) if he could have this dance.

She squinted at him above a growing smile. “I thought you didn’t dance at these things.” But she laid a hand on his shoulder.

“I do when I have the right partner.” He took a firm hold of her, wrapping his arm around her waist until his hand could spread against the center of her back. His other hand was tucked behind himself.

She lifted her skirts. “In that case, I’m honored.”

After she spoke, the music settled into the number Fili had asked specifically for. The strings seemed to bounce as the couples around them prepared.

“The Waltz!” (Y/N) said. “This is my favorite.”

“You don’t say?” He began rocking her side to side on the beat, also deciding this dance was his favorite. He’d have her all to himself.

The beginning of the dance didn’t call for much movement on his part, but he was fully aware he’d get his chance later. Now, he simply watched (Y/N), leading her and assisting her as she circled around him, never letting go of his hand. She spun about, to his left then his right. Each time, her skirts spread out flat and caressed his legs until she returned to him.

After her last turn, he took her hand and pulled her into his embrace, his arm again wrapping around her back and his other fingers tangling in hers as she let her skirts drop. His motion was so smooth, so technically correct, it made (Y/N) float into his arms. He smiled, feeling her breath catch and then release with a shaky exhale.

Now it was his turn.

He led her across the floor effortlessly. He weaved in and out of other couples, constantly turning, but the only dizzying effect was (Y/N) herself. The warm light of the chandeliers above danced in her bright eyes and sent colors to her hair even the sunlight didn’t bring out. His feet swept the tiles as hers drifted over them, barely making contact with the speed Fili was carrying her. She trusted him completely. He was the rock in the middle of her wild ocean of skirts and shy smiles.

His chest felt tighter than ever, but instead of being filled with fear or envy, he was now filled with joy and pride. If every candle was blown out at this moment, his beaming grin would release enough light to continue the Waltz. As long as she was in his arms, he could do anything.

But of course, it all ended too soon. The music died and all came still. Those around them were applauding loudly, not for the musicians, but for the dancing prince. (Y/N) let out a breathless laugh. “You’re a marvelous dancer, Fi,” she said. For the first time since Fili had met her, she couldn’t meet his eyes.

“Are you all right? Did- did I go too fast?”

“Oh, no! You were… it was perfect.”

“You’re the one who was-”

“But I must return to Kili. And you, I see, have another dance partner waiting,” she said, referring to Princess Mevine who was never too far from Fili. “You could steal her heart with just one dance.”

“My heart is already taken,” Fili said.

“It is?”

He smiled at her, running his thumb over her knuckles. “Come with me?” he asked. When she nodded, he led her out into the corridors, which were drafty compared to the stifled Grand Hall. He untied his robe and set it on her shoulders, waving away her chorus of protests. They were completely alone. The entire kingdom was inside while they’d stolen away. The music echoing from the doors made his courage swell. He lifted her chin. “My heart is already taken.”

“That’s wonderful, Fili. By who?”

He breathed out a laugh. He felt her fingers trembling in his and wondered if it was from the sudden cold or from nerves. “Since we’ve known each other, you’ve been able to read my mind. Can’t you do so now?”

“I-I didn’t want to assume.” His warm stare urged her to say more. “I didn’t want to assume that just because I loved you that-that you felt the same.”

His stomach shot into his throat and for the second time that night, he couldn’t perceive what she’d said. So, he whispered, “I do love you.”

The force of her embrace knocked him back a few steps. She hugged him fiercely, wrapping her arms around his neck and gluing her cheek to his hair. “I love you too, Fi,” she said. He felt her breath hitch in her chest as he returned her affection. Then he set her down and kissed her as he’d been dreaming of doing all night and for many nights previous.

When he pulled away, he didn’t expect to see the quizzical look she was giving him. “What is it?”

Her hands slid down his chest. “Have you been eating my cream balls?” She pushed him softly and laughed as he rolled his eyes.

“Maybe. Should you steal another taste just to be sure?”

“Maybe,” she muttered before kissing him again. She hummed happily and kissed his cheek as well before she pulled away completely.

“We should return before Kili eats all of your treats,” Fili said.

“And before Thorin notices I’ve run off with the wrong nephew.”

He wrapped an arm around her waist and led her back to the doors of the Grand Hall, shaking his head. “This is the last night Uncle will stand in the way of love. His way of thinking will soon push Kili away.”

As the doors opened, Fili’s gaze went straight to the high table. Thorin had his nephew in a tight hug, slapping his shoulder with affectionate, but loud whacks. Their foreheads met and they shook hands.

“It may not be a problem after all,” (Y/N) said, curling into Fili’s side as he led to the high table and fed her a cream ball.