Walking Among Starlight by Karri

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Summary:  As Tauriel mourns Kili, she finds new hope.


Tauriel stayed where she was long after his kin had taken him away. They whispered to her that she should follow, speak whatever final words she would say to him, but she couldn't bear to see him buried, hidden forever from her beneath cold earth and stone. So, she sat upon cold earth and stone high above where she knew he now lay beneath the ground.

She told herself she should move, but where would she go? Her king had banished her. She had hurt Legolas beyond repair. The dwarves would not have her, not without Kili by her side. The Men would take her in, she considered, but a life among mortals - living with, growing to love more and more beings whom would too soon die and leave her with naught but an ever growing ache in her heart, she didn't think she could bear that.

She didn't think she could bear this one loss. The king had told her it hurt so much because it had been real. Tauriel had accused him of knowing naught of love, but when he'd spoken those words as he watched her weep, she knew he'd spoken from experience – the experience of losing his own true love. How had he bourn it for so long? Was that what was in store for her – a heart so filled with pain that it grew cold and unfeeling?

No, she would not become that! She could not live a life like that – cold, loveless…meaningless. She had found her true love; he was gone now, and what had she left to live for? No love, no people, no land…just this horrible ache that threatened to swallow her completely.

Collapsing prone upon the ground, Tauriel turned her gaze upward. No, it would be better to walk among the stars…forever, perhaps.

Kili had said their light was a cold light. It was not so, though. It was a warm, soothing light, filled with hope and promise. What hope or promise she had now, Tauriel knew naught, but, all the same, she released her fea to walk amongst their light.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Tauriel was surprised to awaken not upon the cold stone of the mountain, but within a hall. An elven hall, she wondered, for it was a peaceful place, filled with song and warm light.

Easing up to her feet, she glanced around, searching for some clue. I cannot be home, she thought, for though the king's halls were often filled with song, there was no light such as this there. But neither can this be the dwarven halls…

No sooner did Tauriel resolve to seek out someone, though, than a voice sounded behind her. "Welcome, child!" it bade.

Turning, she came face to face with a being so beautiful, Tauriel knew it could be none other than a Vala, and that meant…

"Indeed, child," Mandos continued. "You have entered into my domain. I did not expect one so young and spirited as you would release her fea so easily."

Tauriel squirmed slightly beneath the lord's disapproving gaze, but said nothing.

"Though I suspect I know the answer, for you are not the first young maiden to enter my Hall thusly, tell me what has wounded you so that you would flee here to me?" Mandos queried.

"My lord," Tauriel began, not quite able to meet his eyes. "I…I…" she stammered, but then forced herself to look up and squarely face the Vala; she would not demean Kili's memory by projecting shame. "My love, my dearest true heart, he was killed before me, despite all my effort to save him, and… I could not, could not…"

"You could not bear the loss of him," Mandos finished for her. "So it is true then, as my brother has told me, that one of the Eldar and one of his stunted folk truly did love one another with all their heart and soul." Mandos turned, a slightly chagrined smile gracing his fair face.

Tauriel bristled, but held her tongue, too puzzled by the lord's somewhat playful tone. It seemed to her not at all fitting the moment.

"It is well for you that I did not believe such a thing possible," Mandos explained. "For had I believed it possible, I would not have agreed to Aule's wager." He stepped forward, taking Tauriel's hands in his, for they had begun to tremble with foreboding. "And you would have been forced to endure this place alone, so near to your love, and yet ever just out of reach of him."

Tauriel's trembling grew as the meaning of his words sank into comprehension. "The Halls of Mahal…" she whispered, a touch of hope entering her heart. "We…the elves, I mean, did not believe they existed. It was always said among us that the dwarves simply lay where they were buried until they'd crumbled back into the earth from which they were formed," she explained, in a hushed, disbelieving and yet hopeful tone, before finding the courage to ask, "Do they exists? The Halls of Mahal?"

Mandos laughed – a beautiful, merry sound that healed the ache of her heart and filled the once empty void with hope.

"Indeed, child," he confirmed. "They do exist, here, as part of my Halls - a portion set aside for my brother's creations. Now, come…" he finished, and led her gently down the hall to an ornate door. He knocked, and then, as they waited, he explained, "And now another portion of my Hall has been set aside, for that was the wager – that if it were true, if you truly loved this dwarf, as he truly, apparently, loves you, I would agree to this -- agree to set aside a place between the Dwarven Halls of Waiting and the Halls of Waiting for the Eldar, where you two might be together in peace."

Tauriel's eyes filled with tears. She gazed up at the lord, wanting to say something, anything, that might show her appreciation, but there were no words that would speak the depth of it…and then the door was opening, and Kili was there, and Tauriel thought no more of words for a long, long time.

The end.




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