Tauriel had slept for a while. An uneasy sleep with dark thoughts and worries. She was either too hot or too cold, and the contractions would rise and fall like a fiery tide, burning her body with sharp pain. She didn’t know how long these pains would last before the child would be ready to come, yet she hoped it would be quick.
The old dwarf was sitting in the corner by the hearth, snoring, waking every hour by Tauriel’s exclaims, and then informing her it was still a while before the child was ready.
Tauriel woke suddenly again. The fire was burning her lower abdomen and tears of sweat were rolling down her forehead and chest. Her fingers dug into the sheets beneath her, and she cried from a pain she could do nothing about.
Tauriel hurled the animal skins away, for she felt like she was being suffocated.
«Are you sure that is wise, my dear? The room is quite cold still,» a soft voice spoke suddenly.
Tauriel was startled and met the eyes of the little woman sitting beside her bed, in the same chair where Kíli had been sitting only hours before. Tauriel was mortified and quickly tried to cover herself with the skins again. She was naked, and she was not comfortable exposed in front of this woman. The efforts of it made her moan.
Tauriel finally examined the woman beside her, as her mind had been preoccupied earlier. This dwarf was dark-haired with white streaks, like Thorin, yet her eyes were kinder. Her mood was hard to determine, for she had slightly creased forehead, yet her mouth had a soft pout. Tauriel was not sure who she was, even if her mind maybe should have made the obvious connection straight away.
«I do not think my body realize that, if you would be so kind as to explain that to it,» Tauriel said exasperated, at the moment indifferent to who this woman might be. «I know only of what it chooses to tell me, and I’m afraid it is not in its right mind.»
The dwarf chuckled, slightly amused, and suddenly touched Tauriel’s hand lightly. The woman's hand was chill and sweet on her own, warm hand.
«If nothing I take comfort in the fact that my son has a good taste in women. Not everyone has the strength to humor in this condition.»
«You are Kíli’s mother, then? He has spoken of you, my lady,» Tauriel said, lowering her eyes in sudden respect. She had not known to whom she spoke, and she regretted her lack of manners instantly.
«Only bad things, I presume,» Dís smiled, amused by this idea.
«Only that you thought him to be reckless, which is in my opinion not a bad observation,» Tauriel laughed softly, and bit her lip in pain. She squeezed her own hand so her nails would have pierced her skin, had not the dwarf eased her hand just then.
«It is fierce, this grandchild of yours,» Tauriel breathed through the pain, and exhaled relieved when it ended. «It will have me fighting for it’s life, and it will see I am not easily defeated.»
Dís remembered her own labors, and nodded in agreement.
«My boys were tough as well. They had me fighting twelve hours straight, the both of them. But you are holding up better than I did, I tell you.» Dís smiled and patted Tauriel’s hand.
Tauriel smiled faintly at this, finding strange comfort in this dwarf. It surprised Tauriel, as she knew her brother was Thorin.
«What is your name, dear?» asked Dís, her kind eyes locked on Tauriel.
«My name is Tauriel,» she answered, surprised Kíli had not spoken of her, yet she realized it was not so surprising. She had on her part told no one about him either. It had been her secret since Rivendell.
«And mine is Dís,» nodded Dís, satisfied. «Now we have officially met, and I am glad. I have been wondering for a while who's name it was my son whispers in his sleep.»
«So you knew my name?» Tauriel asked, confused.
«Yes, my dear. I guessed his heartache a long time ago, yet I never knew an elf were to blame,» Dís said, her eyes more serious now.
Tauriel lowered her gaze, expecting the wrath of this dwarf as well. She was afraid of scowling and hateful speech, and she feared she had not the strength to withstand it. She already felt a tear release from her eye, and she looked away, into the hearth. The old dwarf was still sound asleep. Tauriel wondered if she should wake her, so she could make Dís leave.
«My sweet girl,» Dís said as she saw Tauriel’s pained expression. «Do not confuse my worries for my boy as hatred of you. I do neither recent you nor your relationship with my son. I merely dwell on the trouble it will arise for you both.»
Dís held Tauriel’s hand steadily, and Tauriel felt the strength in the dwarves hand, and it reminded her of Kíli’s strong hands.
«You must understand; my son’s are dearest to me. You will soon know the pain of the love between a mother and child. And as you are Kíli’s chosen, my love extend to you. I wish you nothing but happiness, Tauriel, for you are a daughter to me now.»
Tauriel felt her heart grow warm as Dís spoke these words, and she grasped the dwarf’s hand tightly. The emotions suddenly welling up inside of her confused her. Tauriel had never known the love of a mother. Listening to the mother of her chosen, speak of such love that she had never imagined, gave Tauriel newfound strength.
«My lady, I…» Tauriel started without an idea of what to say. Dís hushed her.
«You must call me Dís, for there is no need for pretended courtesy between us. You belong with my son, and so you are a part of our family.»
«I have a feeling your brother thinks differently,» Tauriel said, taken aback by this portray of love from a dwarf. She had never expected such kindness after the mess she had made with Kíli.
Dís exhaled heavily and stood, walking over to the hearth to insert more firewood to the dying flames. «No, you are right. Thorin is as stubborn as this mountain he rule. He’s got that from our father and grandfather. I am afraid he’ll loose Kíli’s trust if he does not change his mind. Kíli has always idolized his uncle, too much for his own good. He has a kindness, you see, unlike his brother and uncle, and I am afraid he will grow cold if the bond of uncle and nephew is broken. This I fear, also for the sake of you and your child.»
Dís sat down beside Tauriel again, and took her hand.
«Then I can’t stay,» Tauriel breathed, tears gathering in her eyes. «I must leave Kíli, for it is I who brought this trouble to your home. I apologize, Dís. I should never have come here!» Tears released from her eyes. Tauriel felt the child kick inside of her, and she cried for the hopelessness of this love she had with Kíli, and the misery it now caused.
Dís touched Tauriel’s face, drying her tears. She leaned in and kissed her forehead, and when she sat back down, she had a sad smile in her eyes.
«Tauriel,» Dís said. «I have never seen my son more passionate about anything or anyone, than he is about you. If nothing else is certain, only know that he loves you, and he will never let you leave this mountain without him. And even if you wanted to, you could not leave him or the child behind here. You need them both, as they need you. Do not trouble yourself with such thoughts, for there is enough to be troubled about as it is.»
«Oh, Dís!» Tauriel said, just in time for the contractions to begin again. She grasped Dís' hand, harder than she had ever intended, as the pain rose sharp and hot in her body. She cried hopelessly.
And Dís held her hand patiently, remembering the feelings of labor, and she did something no dwarf had ever done; she sympathized with the elf. This thought brought again to mind the anger of her brother’s treachery. She would have him apologize to her son, was it the last thing she would ever do.
Tauriel gasped as the pain finally faded again, and she cursed natures way. In what way was it beneficial for any creature to experience such torment? Suddenly she thought of another reason for her pains. Could it be possible that she was feeling extra pain on the account that their child was not indeed natural? Was her body rejecting the child she so dearly desired? Tauriel felt a tear leave her eye as she thought such hateful thoughts, for a child created in love could be no less than a blessing. She would never be convinced otherwise.
«You are strong indeed, my girl,» Dís said with loving eyes, after a long silence between them.
Tauriel looked at Dís, and kissed her hand with great emotion, for this woman had awaken feelings inside of her she had never thought could be aroused. She felt in her heart that she was indeed her mother, and Tauriel loved Dís for the compassion she showed her, unlike any Tauriel had ever received in her life.
«I know Kíli will never be allowed to marry me, but know that I see him as my husband, as I am his and he is mine. I also wish that my child shall have my husbands name in elvish, if Kíli allows it,» Tauriel said teary eyed, without truly knowing why. She simply wanted Dís to know this, as she had told no one yet. She already knew the name of the child, if it were to be a girl or a boy. She had thought of nothing since the day she had known she was pregnant.
Dís smiled proudly of this idea. «Yes, Tauriel, and that is indeed your choice, for in Erebor, as all dwarven realms, it is the choice of the women what the child is to be named. You understand, it is we who forge the gems inside our bodies, so it does belong to us, in the same way that our people have the right to the metal which they mold. The right to own and to give to whom we choose is ours alone. It is as great an honor to give away our creations as it is to be given something of great value.»
Tauriel was in awe of this strange idea, as it was never a choice for the women in Mirkwood. She suddenly realized why she had traveled here in all haste. She had indeed known in her heart that this was the right place for the child to be born.
Dís smiled at Tauriel’s expression. «I, of course, have let Fíli and Kíli be their own masters until the day I knew I had to give them right to love another woman. I am proud to say that you are the best protector I had ever hoped for my son’s heart. Take great care of it, as it is dearest to me.»
Dís paused to touch Tauriel’s face, which was hot with sweat. «Yet, I do not worry about him, my reckless son, for the first time in my life since he was born.»
Tauriel met her gaze with eyes full of love. She could not comprehend this honor Dís had granted her, and she knew they had the blessing of their mother, had it not been clear before. This gave Tauriel hope and strength, which she did not think she could have gotten through the night without.