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Forty lives old

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Great aunt's beard, not again!

Kili let out a huge sigh from his very lungs, quickly interrupted by an elbow in the ribbs from his loving brother Fili, as the door opened to the figure of a very disappointed hobbit. Said hobbit was wearing a night robe and looked utterly pissed.

- Fili..., began his brother.

 His reluctance to introduce himself granted him another kick in the ribbs and Kili gave a quick yapping.

- ... Kili, did he finally muttered.
- At your service, bowed them in unison under their host flabbergasted gaze.

The youngest slightly tilted his head before he grinned at Bilbo.

- No, no! You picked the wrong house! replied the reluctant hobbit trying to close the door, only refrained to do so by Kili's foot in the corner.
- Come on, Mister Baggins, of course we didn't, this is the place, he insisted and opened the door wide trying not to make the poor hobbit stumble.

Of course, he wouldn't call him 'Mister Boggins' ever again, the joke was long since used on him. He slinked into Bag-End and gently praised its beauty to his owner while his brother Fili entered swaggering as usual. Before Fili could give away all his weaponry to Bilbo, Kili took off his muddy boots and placed them near the door. When his brother finished bothering the dazed hobbit with his hidden blades, the younger dwarf came to his aid and retrieved the weapons from his arms to put them aside on the nearest table...

- This is my mother's glory box, please don't do that!

... just to glance at his brother wiping his muddy boots on Belladonna's hope chest. He hurried up to him with a snarl and slapped him in the shoulder quite hard, making indignantly squeal his older brother.

- Kili! What's for?!
- You heard Mister Baggins, don't ya? It's his mother's box! I'd like to see you try and do that with Ma's things just for the way she would carve your ears, Fili!

Bilbo blinked at them when Dwalin came by and wrapped a solid arm around Fili's shoulders and asked for help. Yes of course, they had to make place for the nine incoming dwarves and the magician, but there was no way for Bilbo to know that as he stared at Kili with dangling arms. The hobbit mumbled something in the range of a thank you before rushing towards the kitchen with a very undignified squeak.

- B... but... how many are you? Is there more coming?

Kili already got back to the door for the incoming dwarves. They didn't wait longer before ringing the bell and Kili just step aside before pulling the door wide open, giggling maddly at the flow of falling dwarves. He laughed a little louder at their mumbling and rumblings while Bilbo rushed to them, rumbling as well, before stopping in front of them incredulously staring at them as they seem like a bunch of fallen nuts in the ground. Gandalf was standing behind them with a tired look. Kili was roaring with laughter and had to brace himself not to stumble. This scene, if he ever had to choose one, was probably the only one worth the coming back, he thought with a teary eye before helping his friends to stand. If he really had to pick one scene, just one, to live forever and ever without never growing bored, it would be that one.

As soon as they were on their feet again, the dwarves got to the kitchen, leaving a shy muttering hobbit and Gandalf behind. And Kili, who gently patted Bilbo's shoulder before joining the rest of the company, very busy emptying his pantry. He already knew how little time they got for feast and laughter before the arrival of his uncle Thorin. Uncle Thorin who, with all his majestic tortured dwarrow's soul -Kili rolled his eyes at the thought-, would ruin the party once again.

The flip side to live the same story again and again from the same point was, whatever you were doing, you always had enough at some point. And even if Kili seemed to have achieved some kind of immortality reviving forever this stupid quest -yes, stupid- for Erebor conquest, he wasn't as thrilled as he was the first day. Dying thirty nine manners, and stupid manners with that, could do that to the most cheerful dwarf.

A slight sigh passed his lips when he glanced at the cheerful assembly and most especially Fili. Oh Fili... it all began at this very moment he saw him fall in the Battle of the Five Armies.

A despicable cold reached their chest and squeezed their hearts until they stopped, before... nothingness. Nothingness, emptiness, and the feeling to fall into nothing but fall to the top, if it makes any sense. Then, the unspeakable terror seizing his mind when he searched for his brother into the darkness...

- No please, I'm begging you! No, no, I can do that myself! Please stop that, you will blunt the knives!

Kili gently nodded at Mister Baggins' pleases. The hobbit was pale with terror to see his china fly into the air at the rythm of a cheerful song.

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates—
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat! 
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you've finished if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!

Kili caught and trowed the plates out of habit but it sincerely wasn't as amusing as it used to. Tormenting the young hobbit wasn't half as fun now, in fact, it became slightly ridiculous with time. And where everyone roared with laughter at poor Bilbo's pale figure, Kili just felt his heart sink, clicked his tongue and turned away.

This time ought to be the last. Too much was... well, too much. Thirty-nine lives, as many attempts to try and not even once he could save Thorin, Fili and Bilbo at the same time. First, he was giddy and full of hope. Try new things and walk new paths had sounded exciting.
To have the ability to know the story by heart and be able to rewrite some lines was a powerful gift as a double-edged blade; for every change in the history, he would pay a price. Sometimes, the price was nearly nothing but sometimes, the cost was just too high to afford.

- Kili, what's wrong?

Fili was staring at him near the hearth with his concerned looked of his.

- Nothin', nothin', everythin's fine.
- Kili...
- I said fine, dammit, mind your own business! snapped Kili before drawning into regrets at the pitiful sight of Fili's hurt expression.

This was the moment Thorin chose to finally knock on the door with his distinguised knock of his, so 'sullen and tormented soul' Thorin. Kili rolled his eyes and got the door again even if everyone else got quiet and assembled a little further away to observe. The little hobbit took what was left of his courage and composure -there wasn't much left- before opening, Kili at his side despite Fili's calls to retreat back with him. He didn't care about retreating. He knew what his uncle would say to Mister Baggins and he would be damned if he let the King Under the Mounting have his way with the hobbit and insult him again.

- So, this is the hobbit, began Thorin, seeping into the house.

Bilbo stayed in shock, like he always did, trying to form words but only gasping instead like a fish out of its pond. Oh yes, Thorin was ever so impressive to Bilbo. Kili knew just how much he was, he saw it so many times, it couldn't be mistaken for anything else. A slight crack in the tiny hobbit shell and Thorin didn't leave him the slightest chance before unconsciously seeping in and make it explode with sarcasms and dry humour. An idiot. His uncle was an idiot. He couldn't recognize Bilbo's admiration from the moment he set his eyes on him. Even after the fight with Azog, the dwarf only saw loyal friendship in the heart of the hobbit. Anybody would have to be blind -or have the name Thorin Oakenshield- not to see just how infatuated with him the hobbit was.
Bilbo followed every step of his uncle in awe... not that he could really blame him, for as stubborn and grumpy as he was, Thorin truly was majestic and forced respect... well... unless you were named Kili and you saw through Thorin's idiocy so many times you couldn't take him seriously afterwards.

He was already complaining to Gandalf of Bag-End whereabout and the fact he lost himself twice. Yes, blame the Shire and not yourself for your being late, Thorin - can't you read a map or at least ask your way like any sensible dwarrow? No, put on a scene is always preferable, of course.

As he was turning around the hobbit with calculating eyes, just before he could begin to belittle him, Kili stepped forward and grinned.

- Uncle Thorin! Here you are! he cheered with faint joy before pulling Thorin into a crushing embrace. The older dwarf returned the embrace, surprised, but firm in his grip.

It was distraction enough for his uncle to forget about anything unpleasant he could have wanted to say and let the other dwarves come around to welcome him. The company disappeared to the kitchen again and Kili tiredly sighed once more.

Mahal... how tiring it was to put on an act like this... especially since it was the same scene over and over...

He didn't miss Bilbo's curious glance at him and smiled again, maybe now a little more sincerely.

- What is it, Mister Baggins?
- Hm... no... I... nothing.

Then the hobbit turned away trottling with a gentle smile on his face. Now, that was good.

Chapter Text

Fíli.  Fíli... Tauriel, Thorin, Bilbo! Legolas? Where are you all? I can't see you... where are you gone?

Kíli wanted to shout but no sound could pass his lips as he was yelling into his own mind. There was nothing around him except far cries of pain, hatred and agony. Clash of swords and whistling arrows under the mountain. So far, far away beneath him...

He couldn't see the slightest thing though, for around him only reigned darkness as he was falling up.

Fíli!

Fíli should have been here. He was holding his hand tight just a few minutes ago, just before he... he... no, it was just a nightmare and he would wake up into his bed, trembling and sweating and would beg for a place into his brother's bed and fall back to sleep...

- It is not over yet.

Kíli shivered and looked for the source of the voice but he found nothing more than the same darkness he was still falling into.
Battle sounds were very far beneath him now, slowly replaced by a high-pitched whistling piercing through his brain as he continued to fall, higher and higher. Far ahead, he finally distinguished a spot of light. Or maybe was it some cold solitary star, too tiny to shine? As far as he knew what was happening, he was falling towards it, faster and faster.

- Kíli, heir of Durin.

He remembered the melee, Thorin's charge towards Bolg and his brother and himself, right behind him, covering his steps. They had advanced well through the ennemy's lines but it wasn't enough, it would never be enough. One of Bolg's bodyguard hit Thorin right in the chest and the king had fallen, taking them to the ground with him. Their uncle was unconscious and badly injured, so they standed bravely one more time to defend their kin... but very soon... Fíli's hand was cold in his own.

The voice was deep and full of authority. Kíli didn't know whose voice it was but he somehow knew he would discover it soon. He had to resign to it now. He was dead.
To fall upwards was a strange feeling for sure but it was nothing painful, not like the orc mace that crushed his knees and probably smashed his head in the row. 
The light ahead was too pale to be a star. Was some kind of hearth? No, it was ridiculous.

Fíli... if they were both dead, why wasn't he by his side right now? 
Suddenly the fall sped up. He didn't know how long he stayed in darkness with that disheartening sound ringing in his ears but he felt like he stayed there until the end of Arda and, at the same time, it just lasted one second to reach the strange glow. He stopped right there, his nose almost brushing... a stone. A very pretty one at that, but still, just a glowing stone. It was at this very moment that he realised what was floating in front of him.

- The Arkenstone, Kíli.

Oh, that was some irony. Kíli didn't know if he wanted to laugh or to cry about it... after all, they all fell because of that stupid glittering trinket! Of course, he too was charmed by it once, as well as his brothter or Thorin. Even Bard and the Elven King had had this spark in the eye looking at the jewel of Erebor, the heart of the mountain! Now, all of this was futile; he was stone dead. What worth was a stone compared to his brother's or uncle's lives? Compared to dwarves, elves and men fallen during battle because they were too busy fighting over that rock like dogs running after a bone to take note of the army marching towards them?

- Don't you wish to hold it?

He was now so close to it that he knew he could touch it. The question was absurd and the answer obvious. He cracked a pained laughter.

- Not for all the gold and jewels of Erebor! he snapped.

His voice, that he thought gone, crashed against the precious stone that began to crack before his stunned eyes. The long high-pitched noise suddenly ceased and the Arkenstone broke in glistening pieces. He immediately closed his eyes and held his breath. Or he thought he did, but because he was dead, it probably wasn't the case.

A big heavy hand then touched his head and he opened his eyes again. In front of him stood a gigantique figure. His skin was like polished stone and his shaggy hair and beard looked like fire. His eyes were like obsidians and glanced at him with an unexpected tenderness.

- Mahal...
- It is indeed the name my children gave to me, dear child.
- I am not a child anymore...
- No, you speak truth.

The hand on his sticky hair began to gently rub his scalp. Never before had he imagined their Creator as a fatherly being. So tender. A silent eternity passed between them before Aüle spoke again.

- Why did you throw the Arkenstone away, Kíli?
- This stone only brings misery...
- Really?
- If only... if only I had done something instead of letting them fight over that damn stone, then maybe... maybe things would have been different...
- A damn stone did you say?
- Yes! A freacking ass damn stone! What is the Arkenstone worth compared to the lives lost because of it?

Aüle smiled; a warm benevolent smile, marked with compassion and understanding. After all, he was the husband of Yavanna, there was no doubt.

- What a good Dwarrow you are, brave Kíli. Perhaps is it not over yet, indeed.
- What do you mean Mahal? I'm afraid that I don't understand...

But the hand left him to be replaced by a blinding light assaulting his eyes and piercing his skin with a thousand pins. He briskly closed his eyes again and began to shout out. Then, suddenly, nothing.


 

When he opened his eyes, it was dark and he could hear giddy grasshoppers in the evening heat of the Shire. He blinked quickly but the sight before him didn't change; it still was the closed door of a hobbit hole. Oh, not any door of any hobbit hole, no! It was round like a porthole, painted green with a glistening copper knob in the middle. Bag-End.

The sound of crumpled clothed on his right catched his ear and he quickly turned his head. Fíli was dusting off his knees before knocking on the door.

- Fíli! exclaimed Kíli, throwing his arms around his older brother's neck.
- Wha... what?!

Startled, the dwarf hugged his younger brother back before gently taking him off him and raising an eyebrow.
Fíli was alive! Warm and alive!

- Kíli, in spite of how much  I love your enthusiasm, I have to tell you that this is not a very good time for...
- Bilbo! recalled the youngest, turning briskly his head to the door with a flabbergasted look.

Had it all been a dream? A dreadful nightmare, of course, it ought to be that. He took some acorn on the head or something and passed out.
Yet the dream felt so real and so long... pains and sorrows but also the joys of the journey seemed so vivid! But, if it had just been a dream, it also meant he didn't know Biblo yet, for he had never seen him. What if he really was an old fat hobbit?

Please, Mahal, make it be...

Fíli rolled his eyes seeing how dazed and thoughtful his brother was before finally knocking. They waited a couple of minutes before the door was opened by a petite being in a nightgown, not fat at all, with soft honey curls surrounding an annoyed faced with a slightly turned-up nose.

Kíli's heart then broke. For it was really Bilbo, their Bilbo. And it was utterly impossible he could have dream of him so exactly without knowing him. No, he hadn't dream... it had never been a dream.

- Fíli, began his brother.

But, instead of introducing himself, Kíli stepped forward and pulled the hobbit into an embrace. Their host squeaked from surprise and outrage and his brother Fíli glared at him increduously.

- What... but... let me go, please!
- Ah... Mister Baggins, please excuse my brother's poor manners, he doesn't feel well tonight!

Fíli caught his younger brother by the hood and pulled him back off the hobbit before hissing at him in Khuzdul.

- What do you think you are doing?!

Kíli didn't know what he could answer to him. He couldn't explain what he hadn't understood yet, no. He had to make up something, anything, to justify his strange behaviour or... stay silent.

- Erm... well it's... Mister Baggins is so adorable I couldn't help myself?

He probably had served worse excuses before but Fíli's and Bilbo's faces were astonishingly confused and he felt proud of it.

- Er... I... hm... nice to meet you... at your service... mumbled Bilbo, slightly red-eared, then let them pass.

Fíli snorted and shrugged then entered, muttering about his brother's strange behaviour and how he must have received a knock in the head recently. Kíli chuckled lightly and followed after him, leaving a trail of mud on Bilbo's perfectly clean floor.

The hobbit squealed following after them; and, when Fíli took his blades off to throw them nonchalantly on Bilbo's mother's hope chest, Kíli wondered how things could be that different from his memories.

- Oh no, please! Not on my mother's glory box, I beg of you!

The hobbit rushed to save the piece of furniture by taking any sharp object off it, getting himself cut doing so. Poor Bilbo... at least, Fíli didn't use poison on his knives like some other dwarves...

- Do you need help, Mister Baggins?
- What? Oh! No, no, thank you, it is very fine, thank you again!

The hobbit blinked fast and trottled with his burden to another room as Dwalin came by.

- Mister Dwalin!
- Fíli, Kíli! Come by lads and give us a hand, would'ya! the warrior cheered, placing a solid arm around Kíli's shoulder to push him to the kitchen.

Oh, right... make seats in the kitchen for the incoming dwarves... just a detail he forgot. If his memory was correct, the hobbit hadn't been informed of their arrival. Gandalf had played a nasty trick on him, poor hobbit...

Dwalin, Balin and Fíli were too busy collecting food and cutlery to pay attention to him and, somehow, the young dwarf was grateful. He didn't doubt his brother will ask questions soon but for now... he would only observe his friend's house. He didn't really care last time. Of course, he served the customary platitudes such as "it's a nice house" or "did you build it yourself?"... but he hadn't noticed at first how warm and quiet a house it was, just like their host.

- Mister Kíli, can I help you?

Kíli jumped , pulled off his mind by Bilbo's reassuring tone. He smiled at him but shook his head.

- No, I'll be fine, don't worry... and please, just Kíli will enough.
- Oh... well, alright... In that case, just call me Bilbo, then...

It was the moment the next dwarves chose to knock at the door and startle Bilbo whose eyes grew as wide as saucers. With a quick and skillfull move, he turned on his heels and ran to the doorway to open to Bofur, Bifur, Bombur, Oïn, Gloïn, Dori, Nori, Ori and... Gandalf. The chorus of growling and japping following their fall in the doorway reached his ears and he couldn't stop himself from giggling, imagining the scene he just missed.

Soon enough, poor helpless Bilbo didn't know what to do with his guests anymore. They were inviding his humble home and pillaging his pantry. The sympathy he felt for the hobbit made Kíli approach him to reassure the little lad.

- Don't worry Bilbo, everything will be fine.
- But I... ah! Stop! You will blunt the knives!
- Did ya hear that lads? teased Bofur. Says we're gonna blunt the knives!

Gandalf rolled his eyes when dwarves began to improvise a mocking ditty to tease Mister Baggins. The hobbit nearly fainted more than once as he saw his china flying around. A feverish sigh passed his lips when he realised the dishes were safe and correctly arranged around the sink. His cheek went pink again... at least until Thorin knocked at the door and a reverent silence fell on the company.

- It's him.

Kíli watched the hobbit as he nervously opened the door and found himself face to face with Kíli's uncle, as impressive as he remembered him. There was a brief glance between the two of them and he almost could swear he saw Thorin smirk.

- So, this is the hobbit... Thorin began.
- How many are following you? Do I have to wake the grocer up or you're the last of them?! snapped Bilbo with an infuriated glare.

Oh, that was new...
His uncle incredulously blinked then growled some swearing. Kíli raised his eyebrows then decided to come to their help.

- Ah! Uncle Thorin, here you are! he exclaimed with a grin, placing a reassuring hand on Bilbo's shoulder.
- Kíli... this place is very difficult to find, I got lost twice and if it wasn't for the sign on the door, I would still be out there!
- Oh uncle... you should have asked your way! I am sure one of those agreable hobbits would have been glad to help you!
- Erm... actually... probably not so much... temptatively tried Bilbo, swallowing. I am sorry, I failed you as an host... please come on in...

Something had changed, he was sure of it. He didn't know how he had achieved that but it was a fact... now, the change was very small, true, but he still could move things around. Perhaps... yes, perhaps he could... no, that was ridiculous! How could HE change the course of history? Of their story? You would better ask a warg to learn to fly with better success! Still, without any notice, he just did that... and maybe it wasn't for the best... but only future could tell him that in the end...

 

Chapter Text

Thorin’s party was now seated in silence in the kitchen around the prince who was quietly eating soup. Why was it soup, you’d ask? Simply because some dwarves ate more than trolls and soup was all that was left. Kíli forgot about it then, but he forgot most of the evening they spent at Bilbo’s home if he had to be honest, not that this evening ever mattered during the journey at all the first time… now that he rediscovered it, he realized how this single event should have mattered after all.

Dwarves became inquisitive about their Blue Mountains cousins but there was a collective deception around their defection from their quest to Erebor. Bilbo wasn’t really listening, exactly like that previous evening, as if he never were to be part of it all. Now that he thought about it, Kíli wasn’t really surprised: Gandalf hadn’t informed the hobbit about his role yet.

- But, if there is a key, there is a door! Fíli suddenly exclaimed seeing the key of the secret door.

Once Kíli had nodded with enthusiasm at this “very clever” remark, but here, he just giggled at his brother’s face that was now pouting while his uncle raised a perplexed eyebrow. Bilbo smirked at him and looked amused. That was new.

When he got his contract from Balin, the hobbit didn’t go to the next room but read it with them instead. Of course, Bofur couldn’t help but tease him about it, resulting on a hobbit collapsing on a dwarf prince. The soup was gone now and furious Thorin was swearing in aggressive Khuzdul about hats and asses –apparently. The poor hobbit was very pale but he would live, even if Fíli and Kíli were making fun of him.

Bofur and Gandalf sat Bilbo in his armchair and the dwarves banded together for the rest of the evening. Kíli was the only one to notice the small silhouette in the corner of the door while Thorin was singing near the fireplace.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.

Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.

The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.

The bells were ringing in the dale
And men they looked up with faces pale;
The dragon’s ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.


The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!

Bilbo’s silhouette trembled slightly against the door at the mention of the dragon but not for very long. He left as subtly as he came and, once again, nobody noticed but Kíli. Born to be a burglar, definitely. Still, it was the very first time the dwarf saw it in Bilbo Baggins.

***

- I bet our burglar won’t even pass the door to join us! It was Balin muttering vehemently and packing his last belongings.

It wasn’t dawn yet but every dwarf was awake, checking and packing, making sure not to forget anything at Bilbo’s house. Soon the dishes would be done and the floor would be clean. Not a sound would betray their activities while the hobbit was asleep and his home would be left as if no dwarf ever came by.

Balin’s muttering made Bofur laugh, tough. And it’s with a bright smile that he answered:

- I bet he will!

He seemed to trust Bilbo entirely -and he was right-. At least, it was Kíli’s thought. It was soon enough that the entire company wagered on Biblo’s presence –or not. This time, Kíli bet on him instead of against. He would have his share with Bofur and Gandalf today, ha!

The sun was already high when the hobbit ran towards them, panting, making him smile like a mad dwarf. The look his brother gave him let him perplexed for a little while but he didn’t really pay attention.

- What a bright smile, brother! Is it the burglar who makes you so beaming?
- I won our bet, this is all! Of course I would be beaming with all that money, Fíli, don’t be stupid!

And Kíli really laughed like a mad dwarf.

Mahal forgive him, he might have done something stupid but it could certainly not hurt! If their creator had some sense of humour –and he probably had-, he wouldn’t be mad at the young prince for using some of his prescience for petty games like this one.

Right ahead, Thorin didn’t seem to realize. The only dwarf who hadn’t bet at all but ordered them to move faster instead. Of course, his uncle didn’t hope for the hobbit to join them at all while the wizard accompanying them didn’t doubt at all. No wonder why those two would never get along or agree on anything; they were like a cat and a dog.

- Everything’s in order, said Balin. Welcome to Thorin Oakenshield’s company, Mister Baggins!
- Give him a pony, mumbled Thorin before he pressed his pony forward.

The hobbit had thus been lifted and sit on a mount despite Bilbo’s many protests. He didn’t seem at ease on Mirty at all, reason why Kíli decided to let half the dwarves past him to join the little burglar.

- Hello there, Bilbo.
- Oh… hello Kíli.

It was obvious to see how concentrated and perplexed the hobbit was. Besides, he had no idea what to do with Mirty’s reins.

- I think you’d want to put your hands down, just like that, gently stated Kíli pointing Bilbo’s hands then his own, just before being interrupted by the hell of a sneeze.
- I… think… I might be… allergic… sobbed Bilbo, looking for an handkerchief he forgot once again.

Panic was easy to read in Bilbo’s eyes who seemed ready to go back home fetch some handkerchief, making Kíli laugh again.

- Com’on! Don’t worry so much about it!
- But I… without my handkerchief, I…
- You will have to do without your handkerchief and many other things before we get there! Claimed Dwalin.
- Who needs an handkerchief? Asked Bofur.

Two seconds later, Bofur’s pocket was thrown to Bilbo for him to catch.

- Use this then! Cheerfully offered the toymaker.

Bilbo’s look was definitely sweet and made Kíli smile while he friendly pat his shoulder

- Everything will be fine, you’ll see!

Then he pressed his pony to go back to his brother. Said brother who had juicy remarks to make about his new friendship apparently. Nevermind that.
One look behind him assured Kíli that he was in good hands and probably liked Bofur’s company, like he always had. After all, Bofur was everybody’s friend, right?

***

They rode for a long time and may was long began when they had to endure the same storm than the last time, soaken wet for days and Gandalf who could do nothing about it despite the party’s protests.
Their packs were as wet as they did and Kíli knew how problematic it would prove to be now: they wouldn’t eat anything good or warm before the end of the heavy rain. Unless he figured something out.

Bilbo’s spirit was deep down, as well as the other’s. Considering it was only the beginning of their quest and considering what was coming a little further, it was a pity. After all, the trolls were only a few days onward; he didn’t know how many days exactly though, Balin and Orí were better with numbers that he would ever be.

Thus, Kíli began to hum a giddy old tune to pass the time and, just maybe, lift their spirits up. Fíli quieted down to listen, glancing at him, and Dwalin’s shoulder stretched a little. Kíli sang a little higher.

Who cares about the rain?
Just to think of you,
Your smile and your lips,
Warm me enough for two.

Who cares about the rain?
The sun will shine soon,
With your lips against mine,
Your skin fair as the moon.

Dibble dibble dopp dopp
Come back in my arms,
Your smile and your lips,
Warm me enough for two.

- If I were you, I wouldn’t just kiss her! Glóin roared, making everybody laugh in the company.

Kíli laughed as well, content enough to have succeeded on lifting everyone’s spirits up. You didn’t need much to comfort dwarves. It was harder to comfort a lonely hobbit, though, he politely smiled behind the troops and that was it. The fact his clothes were thinner wasn’t helping. The poor Bilbo must have been cold.

At some point, night fell on them. This is when they decided to set camp under a set of trees and rounded up together. Óin and Glóin tempted to light a fire camp but you can’t say they were successful since every branch was wet to the core.

Bilbo sat alone, squeezing his legs against his torso and shivering violently. He was desperately trying to make himself warmer but his chattering teeth fooled no one. Kíli rolled his eyes and left his spot between Fíli and Thorin to go get him.

- Bilbo, you’d be warmer if you would join us…
- It’s… I… I don’t want to bother you!

Bilbo’s shaking was alarming.

- You wouldn’t bother! You’d be most welcome even! Now, come on!

The dwarf grabbed Bilbo’s arm and brought him to their circle, making him sit at his previous spot between his brother and his uncle and shoved gently Fíli aside so he could sit as well. The hobbit’s face was deep red despite his freezing. He looked so brave, trying not to show his shaking hands and knees… except he was failing at it. Miserably. Bofur looked at him with empathy; Thorin’s look was full of disdain.

- The little one is freezing! Give him a blanket!

It was the toymaker, glancing at Nori and Dori near the packages with a gentle smile. Nori clattered his tongue but they agreed to look for something warm in the bags however, to no avail.

- It’s no use, Bofur! Everything’s soaked… what we need is a bonfire to make it dry and warm us up!
- Doesn’t seem even near… sighed Bombur.

He was dreaming of roasted chicken or sausages or anything… just any warm meal would do! Unfortunately, the wood was too wet and not even fire specialists could do more than some black foul smoke out of it.

- Don’t worry about me… I am perfectly… fine! Was trying Bilbo before squeaking in an unusual tone when a heavy cloak fell around his shoulders.

Kíli gave his uncle, apparently too busy trying to light his pipe to look back, a sidelong glance. Fíli nudged his brother with a smirk and the youngest tried to ignore it, making everything more suspicious. Bilbo seemed petrified, tiny and lost inside all that fur but at least, he wasn’t shaking anymore.

They wouldn’t be able to light any fire that night but they made a joke contest to cheer themselves up. Bilbo didn’t understand half of the dwarves jokes but that left him slightly happier before they squeezed together like puppies to sleep, the hobbit still tangled up in their leader’s cloak, his nose subtly hidden in the black fur. Tomorrow, the sun would shine.

***

When they reached the old broken-down farm, Kíli already knew what was waiting for them.

The young dwarf didn’t think he would enjoy to be captured by the trolls again, tossed into one of those ill-scented bag and wait to be roasted… oh no, he wouldn’t.

Of course, he could have try to reason his uncle to go on but he would have more chance to reason a mule, more now that Gandalf left them furious, again.
So, to the trolls they were going again… but maybe this time, he could try not to spend all night being captured?

It was still day for a few hours, so maybe he could surprise them in their cave while they were sleeping and then…

***

… and then, Mahal! It was the worst idea in the family of bad ideas!

This was Kili’s last thought before Bert rolled on him with a sneeze so loud that it could probably shake the entire forest…