Fili didn’t like the Elf, but his brother was dying, lying there on the table with his pillow made of walnuts as his body spasmed and his lungs screeched out in pain and it was all Fili could do to keep him still against the now sweat-slick surface to keep him from harming himself. It hurt Fili deep inside to see him like this, but it was obviously nothing compared to how Kili must have been feeling if the way he screamed was any indication.
He held him while he writhed, with Kili’s head held in his arms, hand in hand, sharing each other’s panic and fear. Then the Elf had come, and all the Dwarves could do was hold Kili down while she chanted over them and pressed the weeds into his wound.
The Elf was getting much too close and clingy to Kili, but there was nothing Fili could really do because he recognised her as the one who not only saved Kili many times in a few short hours but the one that his brother had obviously taken a fancy to. Why she had followed them all the way there just to keep Kili alive was a mystery, but Fili, despite his mixed emotions, couldn’t say that he wasn’t glad she did it.
But soon, Kili’s breathing became less pained and more even, and every now and then his eyes would flutter open, unseeing but alive, and Fili had no choice but to thank her and stand back to let her complete her work.
Back when the Elves had locked them up in cages like vermin, Fili had herd what Kili had said to her, and the strange love that his words held for the Elf that he didn’t even know. Sure, she had saved him from the spiders, but that didn’t deserve love. Did it?
So maybe Fili shouldn’t have been so surprised when he heard what Kili said to her. About starlight and dreams and another world, and the phrase, “Do you think she could have loved me?” uttered on a delirious and desperate breath. He reached for her and she took his hand but nothing else came of it.
Fili watched at the back of the room with his arms crossed and his eyes firmly fixed on his twitching and exhausted brother. Behind him, Oin began putting away his supplies as Bofur entertained Bard’s worried children in the other room. “I’ve heard tell of the wonders of Elivish medicine. That was a privilege to witness."
“As long as she keeps my brother alive,” Fili began bitterly. Oin looked at him. “Then I will endure her presence.”
Sighing, Oin patted Fili on the shoulder, and he almost shrugged him off. “Don’t be angry at Thorin, lad. He left you behind because he thought he was right, and hell, maybe he was. But you shouldn’t be so angry. We’ll get there eventually.”
“He didn’t leave me behind,” Fili corrected. “He left Kili behind and acted as if it was of a surprise when I stayed with him. How could he do that to him? Kili’s only dream was to see the Lonely Mountain, and the man who told us all the stories and put the ideas into his head forced him to stay back like a ruined pet.”
Oin, despite it all, knew that Fili was not in the mood to argue. “He thought his decision was just,” he said. He glanced over at Fili again, who was looking at the Elf like he was about to vault over his brother lying prostrate on the table and drive Bard’s makeshift harpoon into her skull. “What have you got against the Elf, eh? So far, she’s been nothing but a blessing. Certainly, nothing to have deserved your wrath.”
It wasn’t wrath Fili was feeling deep in his chest- it was fear and apprehension. Fear for his brother, apprehension for his life ahead of him. “Because,” he began. “Kili is in love with her.”
The laugh that Oin spluttered was more of a snorting gag than it was a deep belly chuckle like he had intended, but he couldn’t be quite sure without his trumpet. “You’re joking,” he cackled. “There’s no way that he could actually love an Elf- thinking they’re pretty is different. Love is something so much stronger than you or he has ever known. I’m afraid that you’re mistaken.”
“I know my brother better than I know my own heartbeat and the hilt of my blades,” Fili said, eyes still on his delirious brother who was looking at the Elf and whispering her name under his breath. “We have always known that he has had a… preference for Elven-kind, even if it goes against every instinct we have. But I heard him in the cage- he loves her, and I think that she loves him the same.”
For the first time, Oin looked at the two of them in a different light and realized exactly what Fili was talking about. The Elf was looking at Kili with just as much love as Kili was looking at her. “Oh my…” Fili hummed his acknowledgement. “I can understand why you’re upset. That is a… disappointing development.”
Fili shook his head and sighed. “That is not at all why I’m unhappy.” Oin looked at him, confused. “Kili is allowed to love whoever it is that he wishes to, and I hope he knows that I am not the sort of brother who would judge him. Even him and this Elf… I am not sure I like her, but she has made him happy these last few days, so I am happy to indulge him. I just know that a relationship between an Elf and a Dwarf… it will not work. It is destined to fail and it pains me that one day I will have to hold together the pieces of my brother’s broken heart.”
Bofur took that moment to leisurely stroll into the room, the wide brim of his hat bouncing with every step. “Why the long faces?” He asked when he neared them. “As far as I’ve seen, the Elf has done a fantastic job of getting the poison out of him and an even better job at keeping him alive.”
“Kili’s in love,” Oin told him sadly, pleading him with his eyes to keep his mouth shut.
But instead, Bofur’s eyes widened in excitement and he whooped in joy as quietly as he could. “Oh, it’s about time! I always thought this day would come but I never could have anticipated how long it would take. So?” he rubbed his hands together. “Who’s the lucky lass?”
Oin wanted to reach out and strangle the other Dwarf. “The Elf.”
Like a stream, all of Bofur’s excitement ran out of him in a rush. “Oh,” he looked between Fili and the Elf leaning over his brother on the table. He gulped and reached into his bag. “Who wants a drink then?”
“You and your drinking,” Oin murmured, running a hand down his face. “If it weren’t for your drinking, you’d be on the boat headed for Erobore with the rest of our kin, but instead you’re here with us.”
“Now listen here, you,” Bofur started pointing an angry finger at Oin, who stood up to it with an almost angry hunger in his eyes. “Just because I like a little drink every now and again doesn’t mean that I’m at fault, and if at Dwarf can’t enjoy a little lick of something strong once and a while can he even call himself a Dwarf?”
“Every once in a while,” Oin replied, heated. “Not every god damn moment!”
Fili reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Can we get back to the matter at hand?” Both Bofur and Oin stopped arguing and stood beside Fili as they watched the scene before them unfold. “Right now, I’m going to have to figure out how I can let him down gently. He has to know that this is never going to work.”
“But you know your brother,” Bofur said. “He’s willing to try anything, and he probably does know that it won’t work, but he’s holding onto hope that it could. And you don’t know,” Bofur waved his hand at them. “It might work out for the better and then it’ll be egg on your face.”
“I have no problem with… the Elf,” Fili said haltingly, realizing for the first time that he didn’t really know her name. “I just do not want her to lead Kili on with a false idea of love and then break his heart the moment she bores of him.”
Oin shrugged. “Kili always has been the more adventurous one. Always wanted to know more about those who weren’t Dwarves. Even as a wee tot, he used to climb to the edge of the town and watch from the trees as the Elven armies and scouting parties galloped past on their high-horses. If nothing else comes from this, at least he’ll learn the truth about Elven-folk, and maybe he’ll stray from them a little bit.”
Seemingly in agreement, Bofur nodded eagerly. “Exactly! And you know that Kili has always liked the Elves for whatever strange reason. Maybe he likes their height or having to figure out how to bed them, but either way, maybe it’s not bad to broaden his horizons! Live a little! Maybe, if he does get with this Elf, and it works out poorly, then he’ll be more interested in Dwarven women, and if he does work out for the better, then your brother gets his happy ending with the girl of his dreams.”
Relaxing slightly, Fili nodded slowly as he took in their words. “Right, your right. I’m just being… overbearing. It’ll be fine. He’ll be fine.”
Smiling from under his beard, Oin patted him on the shoulder as he grabbed Bofur’s arm and pulled him away. “You’re just being a big brother, Fili. A big brother’s greatest strength is worrying about his siblings and doing everything in his power to protect them from all harm. Even if that harm is a broken heart.”
Left alone again, Fili watched as Kili smiled for the first time in a long time, and wondered if maybe his brother loving an Elf wasn’t such a bad thing. He could make it work. If it’s what Kili wanted, then it’s something that Fili would be happy to deal with. And maybe, over time, he could learn to love her too.
Kili moaned again in pain, and Fili was by his side before he had even processed that he had moved. And this time, he wasn’t mad about the Elf’s presence at his brother’s other side.