Azog was dead. The only one he had left that cared about him was dead. Kili could feel the tears streaming down his face as he ran through the forest. He didn’t know where to go, he couldn’t go to Erebor, not after the things he had done. He couldn’t even go back with the remaining orcs, who had survived the ambush, because who knew what they would do to him now that Azog was dead. While Azog had lived the Orcs treated Kili like one of their own and at the time Kili felt like he belonged there, with them. He had his own Warg, Nazag, who was now dead thanks to a group of elves that just happened to be passing by their camp, he spoke their language, he had even eaten... unspeakable things but now, now that their leader was dead there was nothing stopping the Orcs from having Kili as their next meal.
Kili’s heart beated fast as he ran, stray branches slashed at his face as he made his way deeper into the forest but he didn’t care, he just had to get away from there. Away from the bloodshed. Away from his crying Warg who lay on the ground, bleeding out. Away from the orcs who had been viciously cut down. Away from Azog.
The fact that the elves had let him live was all that he could think about. Even after they saw him bent over Azog’s body, pleading for the pale orc to wake up, they had let him live. Why, he thought, why didn’t they just kill him? There was nothing left for him now, he had no home, no family, no one. He wanted to be dead.
Kili kept running, his arm bleeding from where an arrow had grazed him. His feet were sore and his face was covered in dirt, blood and small cuts but he kept going. He wasn’t going to stop until he was far away, far away so that no one could ever find him.
Suddenly Kili was lying on the ground, looking at the trees above him and for a moment he felt peace. He closed his eyes and imagined he was back at the orc camp, Nazag by his side, the orcs fighting amongst themselves over some silly game, but it was just a dream. He knew he’d never be back there, with his friends, his family. He’d never get to stroke Nazag again or have to tell her off for licking his face or feel the warmth of her fur beside him as he slept. For the second time in his life everything he ever cared about was cruelly taken away from him.
“Are you alright?” Kili’s eyes snapped open at the voice, his vision blurred. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” He knew that voice. He had heard it before. Kili sat up, slowly, his back aching as he did. He looked to his left and saw a blond haired elf kneeling next to him. He blinked, trying hard to make his eyes focus but it was useless. He felt dizzy and sick, his head was aching and the cut on his arm stung worse than before.
“What happened?” Kili said, the elf looked at him in shock. Kili had spoken to him in black speech. The Elf moved closer to Kili and in an instance Kili recognised him. It was him, the one who had saved him from the spiders in Mirkwood. “What happened.” Kili asked again only this time in Westron.
“You were running and you collided with my horse.” The Elf looked at Kili’s arm, the blood was seeping through his tunic. “Are you hurt?” Kili looked down at his arm.
“It’s nothing.” Speaking Westron felt wrong. “Just a scratch.”
“Are you sure? It looks pretty bad.” The Elf reached out to touch Kili’s arm but he backed away.
“Don’t.” Kili backed up against a tree. “Just don’t.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s fine, I just don’t like people touching me.” The Elf nodded before sitting down in front of him.
“My name is Legolas, Prince of the Woodland Realm.”
“I know who you are.” Kili said looking up at him. “You’re the one who saved me, last year, from the spiders.” Legolas’ eyes widened. He felt like a fool. He didn’t recognise Kili, the dirt and blood were like a mask on his face.
“Kili.” Kili felt a warmth in his chest as he heard Legolas say his name. “What are you doing here?”
“I was running. We were attacked.”
“I was with Orcs.” Kili felt his start to water as he thought back to the moment the first arrow flew past his face and straight into Nazag who was sitting next to him. “We were attacked by Elves.”
Legolas didn’t speak, he didn’t know what to say. He felt sorry for Kili. All this time everyone thought he was either dead or locked away somewhere they could never find him. But instead he had been twisted. Legolas thought back to the cheeky Dwarf he had saved back in Mirkwood, there was none of him left in Kili, not anymore. He knew he had to help him.
Legolas’ eyes drifted to the cut on Kili’s arm. “Your arm.”
“What?” Kili had completely forgotten about the wound on his arm.
“The cut on your arm, let me see it.” Legolas shifted closer to Kili, raising his hand towards Kili’s arm. He stopped, looking over at Kili for permission. Kili nodded his head and allowed Legolas to move the sleeve off his arm, exposing the wound. “It needs to be cleaned otherwise it will get infected. I cannot do it here.”
“Leave me.” Kili said, his voice was hoarse. “Just leave me here.”
“Kili, come back with me. Let me get you cleaned up and I can help you get to Erebor. I can help you get back to your family.” Legolas laid his hand on Kili’s.
“No!” Kili snatched his hand away and jumped to his feet. “My family is dead.”
“Kili, your family are alive. Thorin, Fili. Both of them are alive.”
“They are not my family, not anymore.” Kili felt his heart break when he heard his brother's name. The brother who abandoned him. The brother who allowed him to be tortured by Orcs. The brother who wasn’t there when he needed him most.
“Kili.” Legolas stood up. “Please, let me help you.”
“I cannot go to Erebor.” He shuddered at the name. What would they think of him? What would they think when he knew the unspeakable things that he had done? Would they still love him? Would they still accept him as a Dwarf?
“Then don’t.” Kili looked over at Legolas. “Come with me. I don’t care what you’ve done. I just want to help you.” It was like Legolas could read Kili’s mind. “Please.”
Kili felt small as he walked behind Legolas through the halls of the Woodland Realm. He was terrified that Thranduil was going to be around every corner, that he would send him back to Erebor. But that fear soon faded as they entered the healing chambers. It wasn’t a very large room, there were five beds along either side, three of which were occupied. “Sit here, I’ll be back in a moment.” Legolas said as they reached the bed farthest from the door. Kili sat on the bed and watched as Legolas went over to a brown haired Elf and started speaking to him.
Kili couldn’t begin to imagine what he must look like. The dried blood and dirt on his face, hands and under his fingernails, the twigs and leaves stuck in his hair, he really needed a bath. Orcs didn’t believe in being clean so Kili couldn’t remember the last time he had bathed but now, as he sat deep within the Woodland Realm, he was desperate for one.
Legolas returned with a handful of medical supplies. “Can you roll your sleeve up for me?” Kili nodded and rolled his sleeve up, holding it atop his shoulder. “This might sting a little.” Kili looked away as Legolas began to treat his wound. “The orcs you were with, who was their leader?”
“Azog.” Kili said softly. Legolas remained quiet. “He saved me.”
“Another group of orcs. When we were in the barrels I started to drift away from the company and this group of Orcs caught me. They dragged me through the forest for what felt like days. Every time I heard a rustle in the bushes or a twig snap I prayed that it was Thorin, that they had come to rescue me but they never did.” Legolas said nothing, he just listened as Kili told his story. “They took me back to their camp. They hurt me, tortured me for information but I wouldn’t say anything. I couldn’t give my people up to them. Then one night as they were sleeping Azog and his following crept into their camp and killed them.” Kili didn’t know why he was telling Legolas this but once he started talking, he couldn’t stop.
“Why would Azog kill his own people?” Legolas asked.
“Apparently they were traitors, ones who refused to follow Azog. They had me hanging from a tree by my wrists and I watched as the Orcs went through the camp killing the others one by one. I thought they were going to kill me but Azog cut me free and took me with them. I was expecting to get tortured again but he treated me with kindness. He had one of his healers care for my wounds and translate so he could talk to me. I don’t know why he didn’t kill me, even when he found out who I was he still treated me as his equal. The longer I was with them the more I earned their respect. They taught me black speech and taught me to ride a Warg.” Kili’s heart ached as he thought about his beloved Nazag
“You became one of them.” Legolas had finished treating Kili’s arm and was looking at the Dwarf as he told his story the pain of it written over his face. Kili nodded his head.
“I’ve killed people Legolas. I’ve hurt them. My mind, it’s twisted and my heart is black.”
“That’s all in the past. You can change Kili, you can become who you once were.”
“It is not that easy.” Kili sighed. His own words circled around in his head ‘They are not my family, not anymore.’ He was wrong. They are his family, they always will be. But he couldn’t help but think about whether they would still call Kili family after they’ve heard what he has done. “Thorin will never forgive me for what I've done. Fili will never look at me the same way again. My own mother won’t recognise what I’ve become.”
“I do not believe that.” Legolas touched Kili’s arm gently. “I know they miss you, I know they would give anything to have you back with them. Please let me help you. Let me help bring back the Dwarf I saved in Mirkwood.”
“Why would you help me?”
“Because I can see in your eyes how much you want to come back, how much you wish to see your brother again. And I know how much he misses you, how it pains him to hear someone say your name.” Kili looked at Legolas, he could feel the warmth of his tears as they fell down his face.
“How do you know?” Kili wiped his face with the back of his hand.
“Tauriel.” Kili remembered the red-hair Elf who had been part of the group who captured them. “Fili has married her.” Kili stared at Legolas in shock. His brother had married an Elf. Thorin had allowed Fili to marry an Elf. For some reason this made Kili feel warm inside. “Tauriel is my best friend and it pains her to see her husband so hurt.”
“Fili.” Kili whispered, so low that Legolas didn’t hear him. At that moment something inside Kili changed.
“Legolas!” Kili’s head snapped towards the door as Thranduil walked in, silver cloak flowing behind him.
“Father.” Legolas rose from his place beside Kili.
“Would you care to explain why there is a Dwarf in my healing chambers.” Thranduil said, sending a glare towards Kili.
“He was injured. He needed help.”
“Then you should have sent him back to Erebor. My Kingdom is not a place for Dwarves.” Thranduil said, with disgust in his voice. “Send him on his way immediately.”
“No.” Legolas said, straightening up as his father turned back towards him. “I will not.”
“Do not test my patience Legolas, I have had enough dealings with Dwarves for one lifetime and I do not need Thorin accusing us of holding one of his people against their will.” Thranduil stepped closer to Legolas. “Send him away or I will.”
“I will not. He needs my help and I will give him it. I can assure you father, Thorin does not know he is here.”
“Father please, trust me.” Legolas pleaded. Kili didn’t know why Legolas was so determined to help him or even if he could be helped but after hearing what Fili was going through, he found himself missing his brother more than when he was first taken. He missed how they’d tease Ori, how they’d play pranks on Dwalin until it drove him crazy, how Fili would always let him braid his hair even though the braids turned out wonky. He missed his mother, more than anything. It had been almost three years since Kili had seen another Dwarf and that made him sick. He needed to see his brother again but he couldn’t, not yet. He needed help. He needed Legolas.
“Please, I need help.” Kili stood up from the bed. “Thranduil please, I realise now that I want to go to Erebor, more than anything in this world but I need your sons help to do it. Please. Let him help me.” Thranduil looked over at him and Kili could almost swear he saw a little empathy in his eyes.
“Fine.” Thranduil sighed and looked back at his son. “But keep him out of my way.” Thranduil left swiftly and Legolas turned back towards Kili.
“You’ll let me help you?” Kili nodded his head.
“I have to see him again, I have to see Fili.”
“And you will, in time.” Legolas placed a hand on Kili’s shoulder. “But first, you need a bath.”
Legolas led Kili to his own personal washroom. “You may wash in here. I will have some fresh clothes found for you.”
“Thank you.” Kili managed a weak smile as he looked towards Legolas. “For everything.” Legolas smiled back at him.
“I’ll be just out here if you need me.” Legolas closed the door and left Kili standing alone in the washroom. A rather large bath was in the middle of the room, steam slowly rising from it. Kili got undressed as quickly as he could and slowly sunk into the water. The warm water felt amazing as he submerged himself in it. He started scrubbing at his arms and face, dirt and blood running off him, revealing the white skin underneath. He dunked his head under the water and ran his fingers through his hair. When he lifted his head out of the water he began to feel more like himself again. More like Kili.
After he finished bathing Kili dried himself off and wrapped a sheet around his waist. He slowly opened the door to see Legolas sitting on his bed, a pile of fresh clothes beside him. “They may not be a perfect fit but it’s all I could do.” Legolas handed Kili the clothes.
“Thank you.” Kili turned away and Legolas gasped as he saw the deep scars on his back. He knew they had come from a whip and it pained him to know that Kili had been through such terrible things.
“They don’t hurt anymore.” Kili said as he slipped into the clothes. “The scars.”
“What did they want from you?”
“They wanted to know where Thorin would go next but I didn’t know. I don’t even think Thorin knew but they wouldn’t accept that answer. They whipped me until I passed out and when I woke I was hanging from the tree. That’s when Azog attacked.” Kili fastened the belt around his waist. Legolas just looked at Kili, he looked so different now that he was clean. Before you couldn’t even see his stubble underneath the dirt and blood. Kili looked thin. Too thin.
“Are you hungry?” Legolas asked. Kili had just finished fastening his boots. He hadn’t eaten properly in a long time. He knew the taste of man flesh, the taste of elves and it sickened him. “Let’s take a trip to the kitchens.”
Kili had three servings of a delicious, warm stew and he felt alive. More alive than he had felt in years. Perhaps he was capable of change after all. Perhaps he could go back to being the reckless Kili he once was. He thought about his mother and brother as Legolas led him to a room. “You can rest here. I’ll be in the room next door if you need me.”
“Thank you Legolas.” Kili smiled at him, a proper smile this time. He felt happy. The thought of being here, with Legolas, learning to be himself again made him happy.
Legolas was reading when he heard a scream coming from the next room. He jumped from the chair and ran into Kili’s room. Kili was sitting on the bed with his knees to his chest, rocking back and forth. “Kili, what happened?” Legolas rushed over to the bed and sat down. Kili was shaking and sweating. It was obvious he had had a nightmare, and by the looks of it, it was a bad one. Kili looked up at him, with terror in his eyes. Legolas shuffled closer and slowly put an arm around Kili. Kili cried as he leant against Legolas, burying his face into the Elf’s chest. His body shook as he sobbed. “Sh, it’s okay. It was just a nightmare.” Legolas held Kili as he cried into his arms. “You’re okay Kili. You’re okay. I’m here.”
“F-Fili, I killed him.” Kili cried. He grabbed at Legolas’ shirt, pushing his face harder into the Elf’s chest.
“It was just a bad dream. Fili is safe.” Legolas placed a hand on Kili’s head, holding him close against him.
Kili remembered when he first began to have nightmares after Azog rescued him. He’d dream of Fili being in his place instead, that he was forced to watch as the Orcs tortured and mutilated Fili right in front of him. They lasted a few months, each night the same dream. Sometimes instead of Fili he would see his mother, or Thorin and on worse nights he would see all three of them at once and he would be the one torturing them. He would wake shaking, sweating, crying and he would sit in the dark alone, crying silently so none of the Orcs could hear him.
He wished he had Nazag by his side to comfort him, as she always did when he woke from a nightmare, but she was dead. And instead here he was clinging to an Elf he barely knew, yet he felt safe. He knew nothing could harm him while he was there but that didn’t stop him from being afraid. Legolas stopped him from being afraid. Anytime the Elf left him, Kili found himself being scared again but as soon as he saw Legolas’ face all the fear he felt simply went away. He didn’t know why the Elf made him feel this way, he just knew he didn’t want to be apart from him, not while he was still so fragile.
Kili lifted his head away from Legolas’ tear stained shirt. “Will you stay with me?”
“Of course.” Kili’s grip lingered before he finally let go of Legolas. Legolas stood up and moved a chair over to the edge of the bed. “I’ll be right here.” Kili smiled weakly before lying back down. He pulled the sheets over his body and closed his eyes.
The nightmares grew less the longer Kili was in the Woodland Realm. He was feeling more and more like his old self as each day passed. It had been about four months since he collided with Legolas’ horse in the forest and everyday Kili felt grateful.
Legolas had asked Tauriel to bring books from Erebor so that Kili could begin to relearn the language he had since forgotten. She wasn’t happy at first, having to keep such a secret from Fili but after Legolas explained how much help Kili needed she was willing to help him. Kili would practice in private as their language was meant to be kept secret from other races but sometimes he would let Legolas listen. Let him hear the progress he has made. Legolas was proud of Kili, proud of how far he had come in such a short time. Legolas had been patient with him, he knew Kili wouldn’t return to normal quickly but he was shocked at just how much Kili had achieved in those four short months.
“Kili seems to be doing well.” Thranduil said as he poured two glasses of wine, passing one to his son.
“He is.” Legolas smiled as he took the glass from his father. “He is becoming a Dwarf again.”
“When do you expect him to return to Erebor?”
“I do not think he is ready for that just yet. When I told him Tauriel had brought books from Erebor the colour drained from his face.” Thranduil saw the sadness in his son's eyes. “He is scared.”
“He does not know how his family will react. To think he is dead is one thing but to know that he was practically an Orc is not something that they will take lightly. You know how Thorin is about Orcs, to learn that his nephew was one of them, could destroy him. I fear that Kili will no longer be accepted into the Line of Durin.”
“I do not know how Thorin will react but I know he misses his nephew. Everyone can see the toll it has taken on him, even Bard has seen that the Dwarf is not his usual self anymore.” Thranduil remembered back to his last meeting in Dale. Thorin looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks, his eyes were dark and hollow. His hair was unbraided and unkept. He was hurting and Thranduil could see it, everyone could see it. “Even after he married the halfling, he is still miserable. Take Kili to Erebor.”
“Father he is not ready. If I take him it could break him. He could lose himself again.”
“Then take him to Dale, let him meet the man who killed the Dragon, that helped get his home back. Bard knows of his situation, he will be there if anything should go wrong.”
“I don’t know about this.” Kili said as they stood, looking down upon Dale. “What if someone sees me, what if one of the company is there?”
“Everything will be fine Kili, we’re just going to see Bard.” Kili remembered the story Legolas told him, of the barge man who took down Smaug. He had to admit he was impressed and wanted to meet the dragonslayer in person, to thank him for helping his family get their home back but he was scared. Scared that a Dwarf might recognise him and go running back to Erebor, screaming that the Prince was alive. Legolas clapped a hand on Kili’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”
They met with Bard in his house, he greeted Legolas with a hug and stretched his hand out towards Kili. “Bard.” Kili shook his hand.
“I’ve heard a lot about you Kili, I must say I’m impressed.” Kili felt a warmth in his chest.
“Thank you.” His voice was low and soft, the words barely made a sound but Bard smiled.
Bard offered them both a seat, taking the one opposite them for himself. The three of them shared stories with each other. Bard told Kili how he and Thorin had become friends and met regularly to discuss the trading between Kingdoms.
“Have you seen my brother? Fili.” Kili asked, he was nervous to hear Bards response.
“I was at his wedding.” Kili’s heart warmed and ached at the same time. He wished he had been there to see his brother get married, to stand next to him at the altar, to celebrate with him and tease him about how he said he would never marry. But he was happy, happy that Fili had found his one. Happy that Fili found his own happiness after Kili went missing. “Your uncle's wedding too. I must admit it came as quite a shock to learn that your uncle was marrying the halfling but then I saw how happy Bilbo makes him.” Kili smiled, he always knew Thorin had liked Bilbo, especially after Bilbo saved his life. He and Fili teased him about it at Beorn’s house. It made him happy to know that they were married, that Bilbo was now his uncle. “There have been quite a few weddings in Erebor recently.”
“Really?” Kili was shocked to learn this, he couldn’t think of who else would get married. He knew Bombur was already married, he always used to talk about his wife during the quest.
“Oh aye. There was that one with the floppy hat, he married the one with the star-shaped hair.”
“Bofur and Nori?!” Kili couldn’t believe his ears. Bofur had married Nori.
“Aye that was it, Bofur and Nori. They married last year, and just before them was that angry fellow and Ori.” Bard always remembered Ori’s name because he’d become a good friend of Bain and he often found the two of them in the library huddled over some books.
“Angry fellow.” Kili couldn’t think who he meant until it hit him. It was Dwalin. Dwalin had married Ori. He couldn’t believe it. Tough old Dwalin had married the small, timid little Ori. How they convinced Dori to let them get married was beyond him but he was overjoyed. His friends, his family, had all found their Ones. “Dwalin and Ori.”
After a while Legolas and Kili said goodbye to Bard and made their way through the streets of Dale. “That wasn’t so bad.” Kili said to Legolas’ surprise. “He was nice.”
“Bard is a good man and a great King.” Legolas kept his eyes forward, making sure no one that would recognise Kili was nearby. He walked slower than usual to allow his steps to match Kili’s. Kili was looking round him admiring the city, the city that was once turned to ruin by the wrath of Smaug.
Kili was watching some children playing by the fountain when he spotted her. The red-haired Elf. Tauriel. His heart started beating fast, his hands sweating. He looked for somewhere he could hide, he couldn’t risk Fili being there and seeing him, not yet. He wasn’t ready. “Legolas.”
Legolas’ eyes were fixed on Tauriel as she made her way towards him. “Tauriel, what are you doing here?”
“You just leave.” Tauriel has fear in her eyes and Legolas knew, he knew that Fili was here. Tauriel’s eyes moved towards Kili, who was standing behind Legolas, trying to hide himself from view. “You both must leave. Now.”
“Tauriel, what’s going on?” said a voice all too familiar to Kili. It felt like his heart had stopped. Any minute now his brother was going to spot him. To see him hiding behind Legolas. Fili approached his wife, standing by her side. “Legolas, how nice to see you again.”
“And you.” Legolas bowed his head slightly, praying that Kili had run off and was no longer standing behind him. He didn’t know what this would do to Kili, whether it would help him or break him. He didn’t want to risk it. He couldn’t see Kili lose himself again, not after he worked so hard to help fix him.
Fili’s eyes moved to the figure standing behind Legolas and in an instance his heart stopped. He pushed past the Elf and stood directly in front of Kili. It was like he had seen a ghost. He had seen a ghost. All those years he thought his brother dead and yet here he was, standing just mere inches away from him.
Kili’s eyes were fixed on the ground, not daring to look up. He wanted to close his eyes, to make this all stop. To make Fíli go away but he couldn’t. He saw his brothers feet move slowly closer to him and he held his breath. A cold hand touched his chin and lifted his face. Fili. His golden hair glistening in the sun as he stood in front of Kili. His heart beated fast as he stared into his brother's eyes, his own filling with tears.