The lanes and thoroughfares of Erebor were bustling with activity, and you held your head high to greet everyone who acknowledged you with a nod or a smile as you passed, despite the tingling hum of your nerves and the clamminess of the hand that Fili held in his strong, sure grasp.
“I wonder if I should have brought the biscuits after all,” you fretted suddenly, glancing to the brown paper-wrapped package in your free hand, and Fili frowned.
“Why not? She’ll love them.”
“But it’s such a simple gift, and they’ll only remind her that I’m just a baker.”
The beads that adorned his braided mustache glinted in the light when he shook his head. “You must remember, Mum’s not led the life of the pampered princess,” he assured you. “Everyone worked hard in Ered Luin. If I brought home some dwarf lord’s spoiled daughter who didn’t know flour from talcum powder, she’d box my ears.”
You giggled, though the pattering of your heart quickened as Fili saluted the guard who stood at the entrance to the royal halls and led you down the long corridor. He drew up before an ornately carved oaken door, but showed no hurry to knock, instead stopping to slip his arms around your waist and smile warmly on you.
“Don’t worry,” he said soothingly. “It’ll be fine.”
With a steadying sigh, you nodded, distractedly smoothing the collar of his coat over his chest, though you confessed, “I want so badly for her to like me.”
Fili’s kiss was soft on your forehead, and his gaze was full of encouragement. “She’ll love you…as I love you,” he promised, brushing your lips with his own before adding, low and yearning, “and when the time comes, if you’ll have me, I know she’ll be proud to call you daughter.”
A smile brightened your anxious face and your hand strayed to the coarse, golden hair of his beard as your lips sought his again, fervently this time, his arms encircling you more securely and your eyes falling closed in bliss until, with the click of a lock, the oaken door opened and the Lady Dis stood on the threshold with a surprised expression, taking in the sight of you in her son’s arms.