The day had been long and they had travelled a great distance. But now, as the sun began to set, turning the sky a deep orange colour, their feet ached and they longed for some rest. Bombur’s stomach grumbled quietly, he would make a stew with potatoes and rabbit when they stopped. Even the thought warmed him against the cooling air. It began to pinch at the company’s noses. Thorin was, as usual, walking ahead of the rest. He looked up to inspect the sky.
“It will be dark soon.” He said coming to a stop. “This looks like a good place to make camp.” The area was flat enough to make beds with some rocks and bare trees to provide shelter from any wind. A little way further, upon a ridge was the beginning of a woodland. “We will stop here.” He looked ahead of him at the distant horizon and the far away shadow of the Lonely Mountain. Erebor beckoned him, and it would not be long until he was ready to reclaim his homeland and his kingdom. That moment could not come soon enough. Behind him he heard his company begin to settle, dropping their heavy bags on the ground with soft thuds.
“I am glad to have that off my back.” Bofur groaned, he stretched his aching back then stretched his arms above him. He reached into his coat pocket to retrieve his pipe just as Kili came towards him, smiling broadly.
“Getting weak in your old age, Bofur?” He winked playfully, the ever-present mischievous glint in his brown eyes.
“I am not old!” Bofur said, sounding rather insulted. He crossed his arms over his chest.
“We will be carrying you on our backs before the journey ends.”
“I am not old.” Bofur repeated, “I could still give you a run for your money.” Kili’s eyebrows arched before he proceeded to grip him in a light headlock – light as it was Bofur couldn’t seem to shake the younger dwarf off. Kili lifted his hat and ruffled his hair.
“What was that you said?”
“Oi! Kili!” Bofur hit him on the shoulder, “I would appreciate it if you were to let me go.” With one last chuckle Kili released him. Bofur brushed his jacket.
“I am just playing with you friend!”
“Then stop playing,” came Thorin’s gruff and unimpressed voice. Kili turned to see his uncle marching towards him. His smile disappeared and the rest of the company fell silent at Thorin’s irritated expression. His eyes were dark with fatigue and frustration. “I did not bring you on this quest to play!” Thorin glared before snatching the hat from Kili’s grasp and pushing it into Bofur’s chest. Bofur let out a noise at the force Thorin used.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Kili said quietly. Beside him Bofur nodded.
“Ai, he was just …” But Thorin held up a hand for him to be quiet. He and Kili exchanged glances before he moved back a few steps and wrung his hat in his hands. Thorin’s eyes were fixed upon Kili who, feeling uncomfortable, shifted his weight under the icy stare.
“Is this whole journey a joke to you Kili?”
“You know it’s not.”
“No, I don’t.” Thorin sighed irritably. He pinched the bridge of his nose and there was silence for some moments. It was the loudest type of silence, it was awkward and as much as Kili wanted it to break – silence was unnatural – he didn’t know what his uncle would say. All he knew was that he was angered. Kili didn’t like it when Thorin was angry. “You are always making jokes or doing something stupid or reckless.” Kili opened his mouth to say something but then thought better of it and closed it again, instead he lowered his gaze.
“Uncle,” Fili said warmly, smiling, trying to relieve the tension. It didn’t work, as he now felt his uncle’s cold gaze upon him. He continued to walk forward to stand beside Kili, who didn’t look up at his approach. “You can’t blame him for wanting to bring a little relief to our travels.” It was true that the journey was tough and tiring, and when spirits were low the brothers, especially Kili, helped to lift them. Thorin paused for a moment.
“But that is not why he is here.” Thorin sighed, it was a sigh of someone who was losing patience. “Kili.” His youngest nephew looked at him, brows knitted together. “Do not make me regret bringing you along. Perhaps you are too young and irresponsible.” Regret bringing you Kili’s eyes widened. Did his uncle really think that? It didn’t matter, the words themselves hurt, whether they were true or not. “Make yourself useful and find us some firewood.” And with that Kili knew he was dismissed. Kili began to walk away but then stopped and approached Thorin, he didn’t stop until there was mere inches between them. He straightened his shoulders looked at him with boldness.
“I take this quest as seriously as the rest. You don’t need to question my dedication.” He said quietly but with conviction. And with that he turned and headed towards the woods. Fili made to follow him but Thorin placed a hand on his chest.
“Not you.” He said sternly. Fili went to question but decided against it, Thorin was not in the best of moods, and instead he watched Kili disappear into the trees.