There wasn't a singular moment that alerted Fili to the depth of his feelings for his brother. They weren't like Dwalin and Ori. Instead, the brothers had a lifetime of everyday closeness and little moments binding them together.
Their mother, Dis, smiled, her eyes managing to be both extra gentle and fierce whenever she heard them talk about it.
“You be proud, and never forget that,” she told them.
She told them about her other brother, the one who Fili and Kili never got to meet because he went to war and never came back. There were photographs of him in their mother's home and in Thorin's Erebor office – Frerin with his fair hair and sweet smile, who looked good in camouflage and was loved by his unit. He'd been killed during a classified operation, something that many newspapers spread nasty rumours about, all because of who his family was and what they stood for.
Dis snorted, opening the whiskey. “Those fucking rags, they see the name Durin and they always think it must be about sex. Whatever you do, that's what they'll think.”
Fili always remembered her words and he often heard their echo as he grew older. He saw people spit at his family, especially at Thorin, and more than once he answered the phone to find a reporter asking personal questions. He always gave the line that had been drilled into him since birth – talk to our press department.
Kili was there to slip an arm around him, to kiss his cheek, and make him smile. Fili felt lighter in his brother's presence. They'd shared a bedroom from nursery school age, and sometimes shared a bed. It wasn't until Kili was a young teenager that Dis had a talk with her eldest.
She sat Fili down and handed him a beer, taking another for herself. She wore a silk blouse that showed off her neck tattoo; a sword wrapped in orange roses. She smiled at him knowingly and clinked her bottle against his.
“Nothing heavy until he's legal, and I will know if you try to sneak around that,” she stated, her eyes firm. “And if you break each other's hearts, I'll knock your heads together.”
That was it, Fili hadn’t expected anything more. Amongst family and extremely close friends who might as well be blood, the Durins’ lives were open and easily discussed. Everybody else was locked out until they passed Bifur's very thorough checks, and even then it took a long time for anybody to truly be integrated into the group. All their lives Dis had made it clear that they could love whoever they liked, but they had to realise that not everybody else would like it too.
“If you're completely open, you have to deal with the consequences,” was Dis' mantra.
Fili kissed Kili for the first time in the privacy of their bedroom. Kili was starting to blossom into a more adult beauty and Fili had been finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else, especially since his talk with Dis. So after Kili stripped off his t-shirt in preparation for bed, Fili leaned in. He tasted Kili's happy gasp and felt the suppleness of his skin before drawing back with a smile. Kili grinned and looked ready to devour him, right up until Fili said the magic words.
“Mum's going to talk to you tomorrow.”
Kili groaned and sat down on Fili's bed. “Not until I'm legal?”
Fili nodded and despite Kili's teenage complaints, he still slept in his brother's arms, eager and warm for the closeness. Thorin later gave them both a talk too.
“Be careful. Trust only family.”
Fili saw the pain in his uncle’s eyes but didn’t comment on it. Neither did Kili. They left his office hand in hand, quiet and contemplative. Kili leaned against his brother, offering and taking warmth and strength.
“It’s ours, nobody else’s,” he said, sounding older and wiser than his fifteen years. “Nobody else can have it.”
Fili kissed him, tasting the salt and copper of his convictions.
“It’s ours,” he agreed.
Kili wasn’t allowed into Erebor during business hours, because that would have been illegal and Smaug liked to keep a close eye on the club, just in case anything slipped by that he could use against the Durins. Fili was old enough though and went almost every night, to watch Thorin work and to observe the crowds from the club’s upper level. One day Erebor would be his to steward – that was what Thorin called it, stewarding, because you couldn't really own Erebor, because it wasn't just a building or a business.
“This place is history,” Bofur told him one day, amid a cloud of pot smoke. “If we let it fall, I feel like the ground would crack or something, it’s been here so long. It’s a talisman, you know? A keepsake, a rallying cry, for our community.”
Fili knew, and he watched and learned and let the place seep into his bones. He passed it all onto Kili too, because one day Kili was going to run it with him.
While Fili was learning at his uncle’s side, Kili was growing up and branching out. He kept his hair long of course and found that he couldn’t grow a beard for shit. He started dressing differently – silks and lace, things made for the female form.
“What do you think?” he asked, with an edge of apprehension.
He was wearing a sheer black top and tight jeans with high-heeled boots. His eyes were carefully outlined and his ears shone with multiple piercings. He looked determined and steely, but that was all offset by more than a hint of heartbreaking nerves. Fili swelled with pride and delight – his brother was making a stand for who he was, that was what being a Durin was all about. He approached Kili with slow prowling footsteps.
“I think you’re my brother, and you’re fucking gorgeous.”
Kili’s grin was a bright supernova and he smeared his lipstick all over Fili’s face and chest. Fili insisted his brother take photographs of the result. He wrapped strong wanting arms around his brother and spoke hotly into his ear as Kili stared at the photos of Fili shirtless and marked, his hair wild and his eyes wilder.
“That’s what you do to me, every day.”
It was a landmark day when Fili moved out – he was over eighteen and Dis had her social life and loved her sons but told them quite firmly that they weren’t living with her forever. It was wrench for them all but it was what needed to be done; they all needed their own space. Fili moved into a small neat flat around the corner from both his mother and uncle’s houses. Everybody in the family lived close by. Kili moved some of his stuff in too, even though he’d technically be living at home until he reached eighteen.
He gave Fili a framed photograph – Fili all unkempt in black and white, except for Kili's lipstick marks which were a bold claiming red. Fili hung it up in the lounge for everybody to see, it was a statement he was proud of. Kili kissed the photo's glass, leaving a fresh mark in the corner.
People could be vicious when the boys dared to hold hands in public. They dared most days, and dared to kiss wherever a rainbow flag was flown. Sometimes they dared elsewhere as well, because why shouldn’t they be happy wherever they liked? Sometimes people got angry because of their genders, or because of Fili's leathers or Kili's bustier. The brothers only threw punches a few times, and always in defence of each other.
When Kili licked the blood off of Fili's knuckles, it was Fili's turn to shudder.
Thorin watched them and something haunted shone behind his eyes. It wasn’t long after that that Fili was told about Thorin’s very recent boyfriend actually being on Smaug's payroll. Thorin became even more withdrawn and protective of his family. Dis argued with him more often. Fili held tighter to Kili.
The day Kili turned sixteen; there was a celebratory family dinner. Kili turned up in black jeans and a sleek white low-cut top and because he was contrary, his Doc Martin boots. There were a couple of red silk flowers braided haphazardly into his hair, his lipstick matching their shade. Nori whistled appreciatively and Bofur immediately began composing extremely dubious limericks. Fili just stared, heat furiously sweeping through him as Kili intently held his gaze. Fucking hell.
“There’s no need for the sideshow,” Dwalin laughed.
Dis nudged Fili and told him to stop catching flies. Kili slid into place beside his brother and pressed their thighs together. Fili clamped a hand down on Kili’s leg and left it there for the rest of the evening. Kili was his and he was Fili’s and that was all that had ever mattered.
Kili leaned against him; his hair whispering over Fili’s flushed skin. Fili leaned in hungrily, but didn't drag his brother off somewhere private. The Durins had dinner together at least once a week and it was something none of them ever skipped out on, no matter what. Despite Smaug's best efforts, the family wasn't falling apart and Erebor was still going strong, even if Thorin wasn’t. Dis had always taught her sons to be fearless in how they loved; Thorin seemed to have moved in the opposite direction.
Fili didn’t know what to say to his uncle about it, Thorin furiously withdrew whenever anyone broached the subject, so when Kili blew out his birthday candles, Fili made a heartfelt wish on his uncle’s behalf.
Later, once a little celebratory champagne had been drunk, slices of Bombur’s magnificent cake eaten, and everybody had gone their separate ways, Kili and Fili tumbled into bed together, hands eager and reverent and mouths gaspingly greedy. Kili was pale and lithe, the soft flowers in his hair a magnificent contrast to how sharply he sank his teeth into Fili’s shoulder. Fili hissed endearments as his hands tightened in his brother’s hair.
Kili’s hands found the bar piercing through Fili’s nipple. “Can’t wait to get one of these done, will I be as sensitive as you?”
Fili gasped, unable to stop his body from jerking at the contact. “Probably. Hopefully.”
“Maybe I’ll get them both pierced.”
The very idea of Kili’s body adorned like that sent Fili over the edge and he dragged Kili beneath him with slick fingers and great determination. Kili mewled happily; he’d always loved his brother’s intense ministrations. He did snicker though as his hands traced patterns across the leather of Fili's jacket that pooled nearby and across the blossoms in his own hair.
“We're living the cliché.”
Fili bit Kili’s lip hard and raked his fingers down his brother’s chest. “No, we’re owning it.”
Kili celebrated his eighteenth birthday by getting both his nipples pierced. He moved into Fili’s flat the very next day.