“Where is my nephew?” Thorin wondered aloud as the kitchen staff busied themselves around him, setting out trays of food upon the royal dining table, placing plates and cutlery at every seat, and making sure that the King’s goblet was never empty of ale.
“I believe I saw him going into the bath, mi’lord.” A young dwarf maid, an apprentice to the royal baker, informed the king. “Not but a few moments ago.”
“He’ll be late then.” Thorin muttered, sipping from his sapphire encrusted goblet.
“I’m not late!” Fili insisted, hurrying from the staircase that led up to his own royal apartments, where he lived with Kili and their mother. Ofcourse he looked awfully rushed for someone who was not late. His breath came in rather quick spurts as he pulled a chair out next to his uncle and he was desperately trying to fasten the left shoulder strap of his armor as he took his seat.
“Did I not tell you that we both must wake before the sun came into the sky this morning?” Thorin asked the prince pointedly, reaching over to grab a small loaf of rye and taking up his knife then to slather a scoop of jam over the bread.
“You did, Uncle.” Fili sighed, finally managing to right his armor before he too began to fill his plate. “Though you never told me why. Whichever one of your courtiers scheduled a council meeting or whatever else at such an early hour should be relieved of his office.”
“There is no council meeting.” Thorin told his heir, taking a massive bite out of the bread loaf he’d painted in thick blackberry jam. “I wanted to have a word with you before we began our rounds for the day.”
“A word?” Fili asked, picking out the thickest, juiciest sausage on a plate of many before him and biting the end off ravenously. “About what?”
Thorin looked to the master of the kitchen servants, who was, at the moment, refilling his goblet.
“Leave us, if you would.” He commanded the grey bearded dwarf, who promptly nodded and clapped at his lessers, beckoning them all from the dining hall.
Thorin waited until they had all gone before he said more.
“It has been three months to the day since you were wed, dear nephew.” He resumed once he and Fili were finally left in peace.
“It has.” Fili nodded, tearing another large bite off of the sausage in his hand and making work of chewing the bold mouthful. “What about it?” He asked then, his words barely audible as he continued to eat.
Thorin wasn’t bothered, of course. Dwarves were notoriously messy eaters and the King and his Prince were most certainly not exceptions to that standard.
Though even if Thorin had been bothered by his nephew’s despicable table manners, he surely would not have cared to correct him. After all there were far more important things to discuss this day.
“Kili’s waistline does not seem to be growing at any rate.” The King said sternly to the Golden Prince. “Am I correct to assume that you have yet to put a child in him?”
Fili nearly choked and quickly he spit half of his mouthful back onto his plate to make for easier swallowing of the rest. “Uncle!” He whined at Thorin once he could do so without strangling himself with a bite of pork. “What’s gotten into you to ask such a thing?”
“Is it such an unreasonable expectation?” Thorin asked then, raising his brow. “You are a prince. One day you will be King. Therefore, you must produce an heir to succeed you, and quickly. There will never be a guarantee that you and I will hold our bloodline secure on our own.”
“I don’t see why this has to be done so soon!” Fili argued.
“Do you not?” Thorin asked, only for his nephew to give him an irritated frown.
“No! I most certainly do not!” He restated with force. “Though I’m sure you’ll enlighten me as to why...”
“What would our people do, Fili, if a great host of orcs or goblins or feral men from the wilds came down upon our doors and slaughtered the both of us in battle?” Thorin questioned his nephew.
“That’s not going to happen!” Fili insisted.
“But it could!” Thorin assured him. “Anything could happen. In one mere blink, everything that could possibly go wrong could do just that and everything we know and hold dear would come crumbling down around us! Do you forget what happened when the dragon first came?”
Fili went silent then and looked down to his plate, not daring to look at Thorin.
“Fili...” The King sighed. “I’m sorry for my harsh words, but you must understand.”
“I do understand.” Fili muttered, stabbing at a slice of ham in the middle of his plate. “I’m just not ready...”
“You will be.” Thorin tried to reassure the younger dwarf. “Your mother will teach you both all that you need to know, and you’ll have plenty of time to learn. Dwarflings aren’t brought forth in a single night.”
Fili shook his head. “And if Kili refuses to bear me a child now?” He challenged his uncle.
“Send him to me and I’ll say to him exactly what I have said to you.” Thorin replied simply. “That you are princes of Erebor and that this is your duty to your house and to your people.”
Fili let go a heavy sigh, still refusing to meet his uncle’s eyes.
“You are familiar with the procedure intended to bring children, I gather?” Thorin asked then, causing Fili to finally raise his widened eyes.
“Of course I am!” He assured his uncle. “What a question, Uncle!”
“Good.” Thorin nodded. “Then it’s settled. Kili will refrain from drinking his tea and you will put a child in him as soon as possible.”
“Uncle...” Fili attempted to argue further.
“I will hear no more on the subject, Fili.” Thorin stopped the prince. “You are no longer a dwarfling and a prince must do his duty.”
“My prince, your presence here has been an honor indeed!” The head of the healing houses said to Kili as two guards escorted the prince from the halls deep within the mountain in which many of the wounded warriors now lay, still recovering from the Battle of the Five Armies.
“The honor is mine, to stand in the presence of so many brave souls.” Kili assured the old white bearded dwarf. “Each one of them risked everything for the sake of my house and our homeland. For that, I am eternally grateful, and so is the King.”
“Aye, King Thorin has been quite generous since the Battle was won, seeing that we have everything needed to tend the wounded.” The aging healer agreed. “His soldiers thank him daily for it.”
“Is there anything else the crown can do for your patients, Master Dedgrod?” Kili inquired then. “Have you plenty of hands, medicines? Beds?”
“Aye, most everything we’ve been given.” The elder dwarf said with a kind smile as they had reached the front doors to the healing houses. “All that might run short is the food, your majesty. I’m sure you understand. The soldiers in our care are regaining their strength after all. Hefty appetites are encouraged.”
Kili chuckled and nodded to the healer, extended a hand in parting. “I’ll see that the king sends an order to Ered Luin for an extra cut of their harvests.” He assured him. “I’ve been told they’ve had quite the plentiful year.”
“Thank you, your grace.” The elderly healer bowed then, taking Kili’s hand into his own. “May you and your kin be blessed.”
“Aye, and yours as well.” Kili nodded before leaving with the guards, sworn to protect him, at his side.
“Where to now?” He asked them as they walked through the vast stone halls of Erebor.
“You have an appointment to meet with the keepers of the children’s home, your grace.” One guard, nearly as big as Dwalin, replied to the prince.
Kili frowned. “Not something I wanted to do today.” He muttered.
“The king insists.” The second guard on his right pressed.
“Why doesn’t the King go himself?” Kili asked, giving the larger dwarf a sharp look for the demanding tone he had taken up against him.
“The King doesn’t believe himself to be the best at consoling the little ones, my prince.” The first guard interrupted, not at all eager for an argument to begin between his comrade and a member of the royal household. The captain would not be pleased at all to hear of such a treasonous act.
Kili sighed, the frown on his face remaining. “Fine.” He huffed. “But I don’t like going in there. It’s terrible to see them all, left without anyone else in the world, begging for me to help them bring their mothers and fathers back to them...”
“Just speaking to them is a great help, your grace.” The tall guard told Kili. “They only need to hear that someone cares for them still.”
“It’s not enough, though.” Kili muttered sadly. “I should know...I lost my father too. No child should ever have to be put through a pain so awful.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be home for supper, love.” Fili apologized when he finally returned from his own duties that he shared with their uncle. “Balin insisted that we all go over the royal accounts together. It took ages and I nearly fell asleep in my chair a few times.”
Kili lifted his eyes from the drafts of all the grants he’d been writing out for the healing houses and the orphanage. “I do hope the miners are managing well.” He muttered. “The crown does have plenty to care for these days.”
“Aye. The costs of rebuilding a city are greater than I ever imagined.” Fili agreed, stripping his armor off and placing it away carefully as he spoke. “But we’ll manage.”
“I’m sure we will.” Kili nodded slowly, signing off on the last document before he handed them over to his husband.
“What’s all this?” Fili asked, yanking his boots off one by one before standing again to take the decrees from Kili’s hand.
“Funding for the wounded and the children who lost their families to the battle our uncle caused with his recklessness.” The younger prince answered.
“Ah.” Fili nodded, looking over each of the grants carefully. “Should I remind him of that when I ask him to sign off on these?”
“No, but someone should.” Kili sighed, pulling the covers close to himself and lying down on his side in bed.
Fili frowned knowingly. “Did you visit the orphanage today?” He asked his brother.
“I did.” Kili grumbled.
“Kee...” Fili sighed, sitting down carefully on the edge of the mattress.
“Well why should the king get to decide when it will be that poor little dwarflings lose their mothers and fathers to war?” Kili began to argue straight away. “Our dear, loving great grandfather made short work of our own father, charging his armies into the orcs at Azanulbizar. Don’t you remember? And Thrain was no better, abandoning his own men to wander the wilds like a loon.”
“Mother would have struck you for saying such a thing.” Fili warned his beloved. “You don’t mean that, Kili.”
“I do!” The dark haired Durin insisted. “And our Uncle, who waited until the last bloody second to join the fray when Azog and his legions fell upon our very doorstep, he might be the worst of them!”
“Kili, please,” Fili begged, placing a hand gently against his husband’s shoulder. “You’re upset. I understand. It’s not an easy thing to see such darling little ones in pain...but you know that Uncle was not in his right mind.”
Kili was silent for a moment before he turned onto his back so that he could look up at Fili, his eyes red and wet with tears. “I’m sorry.” He said, swallowing a sob that nearly escaped him. “But you should have been there, Fee. The poor little things...They don’t deserve what’s happened to them. Not one of them.”
“I know, love.” Fili sighed, gently reaching to dry the tears on Kili’s cheeks with his thumb. “I’m sorry. If you’d like, we can send mother to visit the orphanage from now on? If it upsets you so.”
Kili shook his head. “It doesn’t matter which of us sees them and which doesn’t.” He continued to frown up at his husband. “We’ve taken everything from those children, and there’s no way we can give it all back to them. No charity we can afford can replace what they’ve lost...Sometimes I think our house is no longer fit to hold power.”
Fili frowned harshly again. “What do you mean?” He asked his brother.
“Dragon sickness lies over our bloodline.” Kili reminded the future king. “And if you should be tainted by it...”
“I won’t.” Fili promised, a sternness in his voice that hadn’t been there before.
“But what if you are? Uncle never thought that he would fall to the same fate at Thror but he did. I just...It makes me not want to bring any more children into this family. If their fate is to be losing their sanity and half of their kingdom with it to madness and greed...”
Fili’s expression became frightened at his brother’s words. Thorin would not be happy to hear such a prospect.
“Kee, I had a chat with Uncle today...about children.” He admitted to his consort then.
“And our Uncle wants an heir to YOUR throne?” Kili guessed. “As quickly as I can cook one up for him, I presume?”
“Kili, you must understand.”
“No. I won’t do it.” Kili proclaimed, rolling over again and turning his back to his elder brother, leaning to blow out the candle then on the night stand beside the bed. “If he wants another heir, he can put Frodo on the list next to you.”
“Frodo is a halfblood, my love...”
“Goodnight, Fili.” Kili growled, not wanting to discuss the matter any further.
Fili sighed heavily and laid down next to his husband without another word.
He knew that now was not the proper time to argue a prince’s unspoken duty to his lineage.
Kili needed time to cool off before the matter was pressed.