Once upon a time, which is all times and no times, but not the very best of times, there lived a little dwarf prince who was of the opinion that his baby brother was the most beautiful creature to ever grace the land. The baby dwarf had been born under the light of a full moon and he was quickly beloved of the entire kingdom of Erebor. So great was the child's beauty, his renown spread quickly mere months after his birth. His presentation ceremony was better attended than any dwarf prince who had come before him. The older prince didn't mind all the attention his little brother received, though, for he truly loved the dwarfling. He would often insist that no one in all the world loved his little brother better than he did.
Five-year-old Prince Fili smiled as he waved a toy over his baby brother's head. Two-month-old Kili cooed and reached for it with his tiny, pudgy fingers. Fili had never heard the phrase before, but what he experienced upon hearing his baby brother's bell-like laugh was the feeling of his heart melting. No one touched the prince's heart like his baby brother did.
"Guess this is all kinda boring for you," Fili said, briefly glancing away from his brother's cradle and looking around the throne room, at all the foreign royalty and dignitaries who had come to see his brother crowned as a royal prince. Everyone fell in love with Kili at first sight. It seemed to be almost inevitable…but Fili was quick to remind them all that he was Kili's favorite, always standing beside the cradle, glaring at anyone who lingered too long. "Well, don' worry," he continued, turning his attention back to his brother. "When they all leave, we'll go right back to havin' fun."
Fili tried to remain at his brother's side, but at some point during the afternoon's festivities, his mother dragged him away from the cradle, wanting to meet with a delegation from the Iron Hills. His uncle, Thorin, who was King Under the Mountain, was apparently looking to secure a stronger alliance with his cousin, Dain, who was Lord of the Iron Hills. Thorin had a nephew and Dain had a daughter. The only thing that remained to be seen was whether or not they could get on. It was how these things were done.
The other dwarfling was interesting, Fili supposed, but he was really only concerned with getting back to his brother…especially when a new and frightening voice reached his ears over the noise of the crowd.
"This child is much too lovely to be a dwarf's get," the voice announced for all to hear. "Has the young princess been lying with one of my knights?"
Fili looked up to see a tall, imposing figure standing over his brother's cradle. It was Thranduil, king of the fair folk…the elves…faeries. Everyone treated them with kindness and respect, but at the same time, everyone knew that elves were different…that it was not wise to upset them. But dwarves had never been known for being wise where the elves were concerned.
"I will thank you, Thranduil, to take back your insult. My sister has known no bed but her husband's," Thorin said, moving toward the elf king.
"You had best be careful, little king…lest one of my people come in the night and steal your precious princeling away. We make much of beautiful children, Thorin."
Upon hearing this, Fili darted through the crowd, throwing himself in front of the cradle and flinging his arms wide, making as much a shield of himself as he possibly could. He was still barely a dust mite compared to the elf king, but that mattered little to him. He was not going to let this faerie anywhere near his brother.
"Leave Kili alone!"
Thranduil chuckled at the sight of him, but he didn't back down even one inch. He continued to glare up at the king.
"Don' touch him! Don' even look at him!"
The elf king reached a hand down to stroke his blonde hair. Fili very seriously considered biting him.
"Well, little prince, I suppose you are brave," he said, leaning down and pressing a kiss to the top of his head. All of a sudden, Fili found he couldn't move. He was frozen where he stood. He couldn't even cry out in protest when Thranduil moved past him to reach down into the cradle. Kili gazed up at him in wonder as he reached a hand down to stroke his plump cheek. But then he bent over him and pressed a kiss to his forehead.
"Keep this kiss, my little one, until I lay eyes upon your lovely face again."
At this, Kili began to wail and Fili was driven even deeper into despair.
Kili's crying. He needs me! I have to help him!
Then, just as suddenly as he'd appeared, Thranduil was gone, and Fili was released from his enchantment. Immediately, he turned and reached into the cradle. He wasn't quite tall enough to lift Kili from the cradle, but he could at least offer him his hand, which Kili latched onto at once, snuggling as close as he could.
"Don' you be scared, Kili. I'm gonna protect you. I won' let him touch you," he vowed. It was a promise he intended to keep.
The young prince's heart was true when he made his vow, but the cunning of an elf who wants something is not to be trifled with. Several months later, after his threat had been forgotten, Thranduil made good his designs on the baby prince.
Fili was having trouble sleeping. Insomnia was not something he was used to dealing with. After a long day of playing with Kili, he was normally ready to pass out the moment he hit the sheets. Not so tonight. Something was bothering him…itching just at the back of his mind. Just as he was getting up to light a candle, perhaps read a book or talk to Kili, their bedroom window suddenly blew open, and in the glow of the full moon shining down, Fili beheld a tall, slender figure crouching on the windowsill.
Vaguely, it occurred to Fili there was something wrong with this situation…that this person shouldn't be here, but for some reason, he couldn't summon the words to protest. Something about this ethereal figure just stilled his tongue…and then he began to sing, leaving the young prince struck utterly dumb.
Come away, O mortal child,
To the waters and the wild,
With a faerie, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
You can understand.
For what felt like ages, Fili just sat, listening to the enchanting voice, and he felt that he could have gone on listening forever. He made not one sound of protest as the fey figure slipped down from the sill and glided across the floor toward Kili's cradle. He could find no argument in his head as his baby brother pulled himself to his feet in the cradle, reaching up toward the elf with enchanted wonder in his dark eyes.
Come away, O mortal child,
The moment the elf bent to take his sibling from the cradle, the spell was broken. Fili leapt from his bed and sprang to the cradle.
"Stay away!" he shouted, flinging himself between his brother and danger. As he gazed up into the elf's eyes, he realized he'd seen them before. Thranduil.
To the waters and the wild,
Fili tried to fight the enchantment, but the elf king was forcing layer upon layer of magic on his mind with his voice. Fili couldn't manage to do more than shake his head as Thranduil moved past him once again, lifting Kili from his cradle.
With a faerie, hand in hand,
The spell seemed to break for Kili when he realized that someone was taking him away from his brother. He began to scream and cry, reaching out for Fili. It helped to break the enchantment a little more, but Fili could still only manage to reach out a hand for Kili, reaching desperately across the ever-growing space between them.
For the world's more full of weeping than
You can understand.
"You have an overdeveloped sense of loyalty," Thranduil told him as he stepped up onto the sill with the wriggling Kili in his arms. "That just might get you into trouble someday. Only give your loyalty to another; forget about this one. The child is mine now."
Then, with one last wail from Kili, the elf king was gone, and Fili was throwing himself at the window, screaming.
"No! Don't! Please don't! My brother, he's…my baby brother! Oh, you can't take him!" he cried, reaching out into the night, grasping at empty air. That was how the guards and his mother found him, slumped half out of the open window and sobbing in despair.
For years and years, the dwarves of Erebor searched for their lost prince, none harder than the young heir to the throne. They searched, and they searched and searched, but they found no trace of the lovely, dark-haired princeling. No mortal creature ever found an elf unless he wanted to be found.
Almost before the young prince realized it, seven years had passed away in the blink of an eye. He was a very lonely child, purely by his own choice. After losing his brother, playing with other children brought him no joy. The only thing that would have made him happy would have been to find his baby brother…to be able to hold him again…except that after seven years, he had no idea what the dwarfling might look like.
When the prince was old enough to go out into the forest by himself, it was all his mother and uncle could do to get him to come inside at night. He never admitted it to anyone, but being outside made him feel somehow closer to his lost brother. The tiny baby had disappeared into the night, after all…out into the open air. It was well the young prince enjoyed the outdoors so much, for it happened one day he was out exploring a bit of forest he'd never encountered before when everything suddenly changed.
Fili was absolutely certain he'd heard giggling. He kept turning about, searching through the greenery, menacing his unseen opponent with the blunt blade Uncle Thorin allowed him to carry. His enemy didn't need to know his weapon wasn't much good, though.
"Where are you? Show yourself!" the twelve-year-old prince demanded of his plainly amused adversary.
Then he turned…and found a dwarfling standing behind him…or at least he was the proper size to be a dwarfling. There was something…off about him. There was something…other about this lad…like what Fili had felt in the presence of elves. His smile was like a hook in the young prince's heart, and his dark eyes pierced him like javelins. Despite everything about the boy that screamed elf, Fili's ultimate thought…was that this child was beautiful. He couldn't very well say that to him, though.
"You stink of elf," he muttered to the boy, who couldn't have been much more than seven or eight. Although, unlike most dwarflings that age, he didn't pout at indirectly being called an elf. His smile just grew even bigger…and his pull even stronger.
"Play with me," he said, giggling again.
"Who are you?" Fili asked, even though he knew his body had already consented to the boy's request, no matter what his mind tried to say.
"Play with me…Prince Fili," he practically sang, hopping from one foot to the other.
"Who are you and how do you know my name?" Fili demanded.
"You can know my name…if you play with me…Fili," he said, lingering over the prince's name like it was a sweet in his mouth. Fili couldn't help the way his body shuddered at the sound of it.
"Fine. What do I have to do?"
"Cover your eyes and count to one hundred…then come and find me…and no cheating," he added as Fili did what he asked and covered his eyes. Honestly, he hadn't played hide and seek since he was six. Who was this boy?
When the prince at last reached one hundred, he quickly went off in search of his quarry. Some part of him had secretly feared that if he broke the boy's rules, he would never be able to find him again…never be able to see him. All the same, he had a time of it finding the strange little boy. Just when he was starting to get frantic, thinking of calling for him, he heard a tiny giggle. Quickly, he reached into a seemingly undisturbed thicket of spring grass and pulled the boy out
"Found you," Fili gloated.
"Only 'cuz I let you," the little boy pointed out.
"No," Fili said seriously. "I will always find you."
The boy smirked at this, leaning in close to whisper in Fili's ear, "They call me Kir."
With that, little Kir disappeared into the gathering night, and Fili realized what had seemed so strange about him. In most respects, Kir looked like a young dwarf…except for the ears. Like an elf, those tiny ears swept back into points, rather than rounding off.
If the king and his sister had found keeping the young prince indoors difficult before, it became almost impossible after that chance encounter. Every chance he had, he would sneak away to be with the young boy, and in this way, they grew up together.
Fili had always thought of Kir as being beautiful, but it wasn't until the day of the boy's sixteenth birthday that the prince felt the first stirrings of sexual desire for him…the night Kir had first kissed him.
"It's my sixteenth birthday tonight," he said to Fili as he sauntered up to him, draping himself over the prince's body, leaving the older dwarf in shock, not over the intimate contact (Kir had no concept whatsoever of personal space), but that the other had shared something personal with him. They had gotten on for nearly ten years without sharing information like that. They just…loved being together. They didn't really need any more than that. But now…
"I want to play a different kind of game tonight," he said, his dark eyes fixed on Fili's lips as an almost delicate fingertip trailed along his jaw line. Then, almost before Fili realized what was happening, Kir was kissing him…and he was kissing back. Kir ground against him and his body reacted favorably to the contact, unleashing what must have been years of pent up, unrealized want. He wanted the warm body pressed against his as he had wanted nothing else in all his life.
Just as Fili was realizing he'd gone completely stiff in his trousers, though, the rest of him tensed up, as well, and he shoved Kir away.
"We can't…be doing this. We're…we're friends…"
"So?" Kir pressed, smiling lasciviously at him.
"So…it's…we just can't," he repeated, quickly fleeing the scene. He didn't even get back to the castle before collapsing against a tree and baring himself, so great was his need. He just stroked himself until he finally came, all over his hand and on the ground…but even his release did not bring him relief. He remained hard, and he just couldn't stop touching himself…couldn't stop until his thighs were slick with his release and he had groaned Kir's name a hundred times over…all while imagining himself thrusting between his friend's own quivering thighs.
What was this strange power Kir held over him?
The two danced around each other like that for four years: stealing secret kisses and furtive touches…gazing at each other until they just couldn't bear it anymore and had to make each other come undone with their hands. It was on the night of the prince's twenty-sixth birthday that the tension between them finally burst.
"Play with me, Fili," Kir nagged at him as he draped himself over Fili's back, nibbling at his ear as he covered his eyes with his hands.
"You want to play?" Fili asked. They hadn't done that in years. Though the shudders that traveled down his spine at the feel of Kir's teeth on his flesh were certainly game enough for him, Kir seemed to have more in mind.
"Of course. Hide and seek, just what we used to do…and when you find me, I'll give you your birthday present."
As usually happened whenever Kir got like this, Fili couldn't help the trembling that ran through his body. Everything about this situation was dangerous; everything about it made him want to ravish the elf-smelling dwarf senseless. At the same time, though, something in him was helpless to disobey Kir's whims. Prince though he was, he was like a dog at his master's feet where the younger one was concerned. He knew Kir could feel it the moment his eyes fluttered shut beneath his hands. The moment he began to count, Kir vanished into the forest. Then, the second he was able, Fili was off like a shot.
He had learned to track Kir by his elvin scent. It wasn't so much that he could still smell it when he was away from the younger dwarf. It was more that he had to force himself to follow the sense that something was wrong. An elf was such a contrary thing to a dwarf, it was a simple enough thing to do; it just grated on his nerves…and when his nerves couldn't possibly be anymore grated than they already were, Fili gazed into the branches overhead…only to find Kir smirking down at him.
The strange creature quickly leapt down on top of him and they wrestled each other to the ground, rolling around in the undergrowth with an abandon neither had ever known before.
"Mine!" Kir growled against his ear. "Fili is mine…and let no creature, mortal or otherwise, forget it."
"Huh…nngh…Kir…ah…Kir!" Fili moaned aloud, grinding furiously against the smaller body on top of his.
It briefly occurred to the prince to protest when Kir began to tear at his clothing, but he just didn't want to anymore. He could no longer fight what his body wanted: to have this dark, mysterious, beautiful creature, any way he possibly could. At this point, he no longer cared whether Kir topped…which he seemed to be aiming at, the way he was so aggressively stripping both of them of their clothing. Almost before Fili knew it, he was naked in Kir's arms.
"You cannot…imagine…how long I've…wanted this," Kir sighed against his skin, kissing everything he could get at. Fili made no argument, as he was too busy marking as much unblemished skin as he could reach with tiny love bites, decorating his neck and shoulders with them. Kir groaned with every bite, his pale skin flushing red with desire.
As the moon shone down on them, Fili found his back pinned against the trunk of an ancient oak. Pinned between the oak and Kir's body, he acutely felt the scrape of bark against his back as Kir lifted his hips, moving him to settle in his lap. Upon feeling the strength of his lover's desire pressed against him, Fili's breath hitched in both anticipation and a little fear. He had lain with both men and women, but this was still a position that was entirely new to him.
"Don't worry," Kir soothed, as if he'd read his mind. "It is strange to me, too."
The prince didn't have time to ponder the meaning of that statement, as Kir was suddenly pushing into him, hard and whole. Even though he'd braced himself for it, he felt no pain. He felt only veins of heat and pleasure undulate outward from the place where their bodies joined…as if his body were opening up for him…reclaiming something that had been lost.
In the light of day, Fili would have been ashamed of the sounds he made, but here, under the cloak of night, Kir made his body sing in ways no other lover before him ever had, and he gladly called out his name, crying his passion to the night. Kir worshipped him just as fully with his own voice as they rocked together…back and forth…up and down. It could have been an eternity or only a moment they hovered there, trapped on the edge of bliss.
Then, finally, frozen in a last moment of exquisite agony, Kir seized Fili's ear in his mouth and whispered harshly to him, "Come for me, my love. Let me see you spill!"
Fili obeyed unquestioningly, spilling his seed messily between them with a strangled cry. Only a few more hard thrusts and Kir was bursting with him, filling his body with his salty essence. Fili was nearly surprised to acknowledge he had not felt this complete in many years. Not since…since his brother was lost…
As Kir slowly extricated himself from him and leaned down over his belly, licking him clean with a mischievous glint in his eyes, Fili lay against the tree trunk, thoughts racing through his head at a mile a minute.
A dwarfling touched by elf magic…who had no ties to other dwarves…dark hair, dark eyes. His brother would be about the same age Kir was now. Could it be…could it really be that in his lover…he had also found the beloved baby brother he'd lost such a long time ago? It couldn't be…could it? How had he not noticed before now?
"Only give your loyalty to another; forget about this one. The child is mine now."
"Kir?" he whispered, running his fingers through his lover's dark hair as the younger lay down against him, pillowing his head against his chest. "Have…have you ever been known by any other name besides Kir?"
Kir looked up at him with an odd look in his eyes. Slowly, he nodded.
"Well…what I should say is that I know I was born with another name, but I don't know what it was. I was too young to remember. I suppose you know elves like to steal beautiful children. I'm probably the only dwarf child they've ever taken such a liking to. The point is they stole me from my cradle and raised me. I don't know who they stole me from. They give each child they steal a new name, though. When we…lose our names…we lose touch with who we were…who we might have been…and we belong to them…so long as they keep possession of our true names."
"Kili," Fili said softly, reaching down a hand to stroke his baby brother's cheek, for he was certain now. "Your true name is Kili."
"Kili," the younger one repeated, a look of wonder shining in his eyes as the name broke over him like a wave. He clung to it in the deluge of absolute rightness that flooded his heart…a heart that had so long been bereft of true feeling. His love spoke the truth. "My name…my…name. I've got my name back," he said, tears shining in his eyes as the elvin enchantment that had held sway for so long slowly started to release its grip on his soul.
"Yes…Kili…Kili," Fili repeated with him, pulling his brother in close for another kiss, for he felt no differently toward him than he had before he had realized the truth. If anything, this felt even more right. Without his brother, a part of him had been missing for a very long time. To realize he had been with him nearly all along…he had never expected to be able to feel this kind of happiness again. Kir…Kili…lover and brother…he could ask for nothing better. Kili had been his heart and soul from the very beginning, even if he'd been too small to understand what that meant.
"Kili…" his brother whispered yet again, but then he seemed to realize something and he looked up at Fili once again. "But…Fili…how could you know-"
Before Kili could finish the question, another voice sounded nearby, calling for Kir, echoing throughout the forest and sending a chill down Fili's spine. He had heard it before. Where?
"Oh, no," Kili hissed, leaping off of Fili and throwing his clothes on almost in the blink of an eye. Fili slowly got to his feet, pulling on his breeches and trousers.
"What's going on? Who is that?"
"Not now. Later," Kili insisted, frantically shoving Fili further back into the forest. "You're in danger here. Don't make a sound. No…better yet…" he started, and Fili suddenly felt the pull of branches at his limbs, reaching out to trap him.
"Wha- what are-"
Before he could protest any louder, Kili sealed his lips with a kiss. When he pulled away, a leaf slid over Fili's mouth, preventing further sound.
"Trust me, it's better this way. I'll be back to let you down soon, but if he finds you, he might kill you."
Fili tried to struggle, but the forest held him completely immobilized at his little brother's behest. He could only watch in frozen silence as Kili slipped back into the clearing where they'd so lately made love…only to come face to face with the elf king himself.
The years had not changed the ancient king even a little bit, Fili found himself thinking, his heart burning with rage as he gazed upon his enemy, the one who had stolen his brother in the first place.
"Ah, here you are, my little Kir. I thought I'd asked you to stay home tonight," the elf king said, a hint of warning in his voice.
"Yes, well, I took that as more of a request than a command," the young dwarf jibed, slipping into the mischievous, heartless persona Fili had grown familiar with. "It's so boring to stay in when the moon's out."
"But you know I'll be leaving at first light. I had hoped you'd be there to see me off," he said. The conversation was amiable, but Thranduil was circling Kili as a hunter circles its prey, and the two were eyeing each other in much the same way. "After all, my darling Kir, you know you're my favorite," he continued, finally coming to Kili and laying his hands on his hips in such a way as to make Fili's blood boil.
"I can see you off now," Kili suggested with a smirk, rolling his hips just slightly beneath the king's hands. Fili could see Thranduil shudder at the young dwarf's wanton display.
"Out here in the open? Without even any bed to lay your lovely body upon? How…exciting," he said, half-purring as his young charge writhed teasingly against him…but then his nose wrinkled slightly as he caught the scent coming off of him. "You stink of dwarf, my little one."
"Well, I am one, aren't I?" he teased.
"All right, fine. You caught me. I was having a dwarf lad, but he's gone now. I'm all yours."
"Kir, you know how I feel about that," Thranduil started, almost as if he actually cared for him.
"I know, I know…but one does like to see something of one's own kind on occasion."
"I suppose I cannot begrudge you that. In the meantime, though, might I be allowed to show you how a real lover gets things done?" he asked, slipping a hand between the young dwarf's legs. Kili's head fell slowly back and he groaned with want as his guardian rubbed and fondled the still-tender flesh.
"E-ever your servant…my king," Kili gasped, half-collapsing against the elf king's body as he continued to work between his thighs. It wasn't long at all before Thranduil had carried his favored paramour over to the giant tree the two brothers had so recently lain against, pushing him up against the bark and starting to strip him.
When he thought back on it, Fili decided it was best Kili had bound him, for he would have marched into the clearing there and then and throttled the king, magic or no magic. It tore at his basest instincts…to see Kili ravished this way…used. However, he was also horrified to acknowledge that the sight of his brother, naked and debauched like this, was a source of conflict for him. He shouldn't like seeing this…his lover with someone else…but the sight of Kili's body caught in the throes of passion…the sounds that issued from his lips as the elf king thrust into him over and over again…he couldn't help the way his body reacted.
When Thranduil had at last finished with Kili, he simply allowed his body to slide off of his, crumpling to the forest floor, completely spent. Honestly, he looked more like he'd just run a hundred miles than been fucked against a tree. Thranduil bent over the exhausted dwarf, running possessive fingers over the marks Fili had left on his body. "Before you let another being mark you, my little one, remember who it is that owns your body," he soothed, dropping a kiss on Kili's lips before vanishing back into the forest.
Once the elf king was gone, Fili renewed his struggle, desperate to get to his brother, who lay unmoving on the forest floor. After a time, he weakly raised a hand and his prison of foliage fell away, allowing him to scramble to Kili's side.
"Are you all right? Are you all right?" he asked several times, gathering Kili's wasted body in his arms.
"I'm fine," Kili whispered, offering up a weak smile, though his eyes remained closed. "Just tired. He likes it rough. I…I'm sorry."
"That you had to see that. We…belong…to the king…the stolen children," Kili said, a glazed and faraway look apparent in his eyes when he opened them.
"No," Fili said, gently kissing the bite marks Thranduil had left over his. The elf king had actually drawn blood. "You've nothing to be sorry for. I am the sorrier…for failing to protect you in the first place."
"What…what do you mean?" Kili asked, a note of confusion in his voice.
"Kili…my love…a long time ago…I had a baby brother…and I loved him more than words can say. He was the other half of my heart. But then…Thranduil came to our window…sang an enchantment…and stole my brother away. I couldn't stop him…couldn't save my brother. It broke my heart…and for so long, I thought him lost forever…until tonight."
"Oh…Fili…" the younger said softly, his eyes widening as realization blossomed behind them.
"The child Thranduil stole that night was you. You are my little brother…my Kili…and I will never let you go again," he said, pressing a tender kiss to his brother's forehead.
"Brother?" Kili whispered, slowly reaching up a hand to touch his blond locks. "I didn't…know I had one."
With that, the two long lost brothers burst into tears, weeping silently in joy as they fell into a fresh round of kissing. They might have gone right back to making love were Kili not so drained.
"Will you come home with me now, Kili? Everyone's been waiting for you to return. Mother will be so happy."
"I can't," Kili said sadly, looking away from his brother. "I told you before. I belong to Thranduil…I always have. To take me away from you again, all he would have to do is call…and I would obey. I would have no choice in the matter."
"There must be some way to break his hold over you," Fili insisted, twisting his fingers a little tighter in his brother's hair. Kili only shook his head.
"You would do better…to forget about me, my brother…my love. I'm already gone from this world," he said. If it was possible, his eyes went even sadder.
"What do you mean?"
Kili sighed. "Do you know…why the elves steal children?"
"Not…so much. I suppose everyone's just always assumed they have a taste for fair flesh."
"More like a need for it. You see…every seven years, they make a sacrifice to their gods. It preserves their youth and longevity. Only their laws state no elf may be given in tribute, so they steal the children of other races. The next sacrifice is in only a few weeks…when the moon is full again. Thranduil has told me…that my time to be given in tribute has come."
For a moment, it did not sink in…but the next, Fili heard himself shouting, without even really being aware he'd begun.
"You…you…NO! I won't let them take you from me again! Not when I've only just found you! They can't…I won't let them…I can't lose you again!"
"Fili…please…don't do this to yourself," Kili said, fresh tears squeezing from his eyes as he reached a hand up to touch his brother's face. "There's nothing to be done."
"But you can't…why can't you just run away?" Fili asked, tears beginning to gather in his own eyes once again.
"You know that wouldn't work. It doesn't matter how far I run. One word from his lips and I'd crawl back to him. I would even throw myself in the fire if he asked it of me. There's no way out of this, my love."
"No…there has to be. I will find a way to save you, Kili…even if it takes the very last breath from my body."
The prince was as good as his word. He poured through the libraries, through every book the royal historian had access to, everything dwarf kind knew or thought it knew about elves.
Many books spoke of the stealing of children, but none made mention of the ritual sacrifice. The only thing the books seemed to agree on was that the elves required a child with no heart, which made no sense to the prince. His brother most certainly had a heart. So…perhaps the cryptic lines had another meaning?
His answer came to him in the form of his uncle's consort…a hobbit from a land far away.
"Taken a sudden interest in elves, have we?" Bilbo's voice sounded in Fili's ear, snapping his attention up from the scroll he was currently pouring through.
"Bilbo, I…I apologize. I did not hear you."
"You've not heard much at all this last week. I think you're starting to worry Thorin and your mother. Years of having to tie you to a desk to get you to study and now suddenly the library is a temple. Why the curiosity?"
"I…I'm running out of time," was all he could manage to say.
Bilbo looked at him oddly for a moment before glancing down at the text he was studying.
"Stolen children? Like…like the baby prince?"
"Yes. I…I don't understand what it means…when it says elves need children without hearts."
"Oh, that's simple enough. It means they need children who are unloved."
Fili's eyes shot up to meet Bilbo's. "How do you know that?"
"My people were much friendlier with the elves in the elder days. Times have changed; elves and hobbits are friendly with no one now, but we still retain phrases such as that from our association with them. To be without a heart is to know no love…to be unloved. That's why they take them so young."
"Kili wasn't unloved," Fili snarled, his hands curling into fists. "He never has been. I adored him. I love him with everything I am."
"Did he know that? Can a babe understand such things? Even if he could, he wouldn't remember. Wherever Kili is, he has known nothing of love since he was taken."
"Why didn't you speak of this before?"
"It wouldn't have helped find him. Would it have made you feel better…to know that your brother would spend his life in a glass cage…that he would never be loved?"
Fili sighed heavily, his shoulders slumping in defeat as he looked away from his second uncle. At least the heartless, teasing behavior Kili had often displayed made a little more sense now. "No…though…do you think it might be possible to break the elves' hold on them…the stolen children?"
"Well…if they require unloved children…I would say it stands to reason that the only way to break the enchantment that binds them…is to prove that they are loved."
"And how does one prove a thing like that?" Fili asked, running his fingers through his hair in frustration.
"If you love…love truly…then you must be willing to sacrifice all that you are for that love," Bilbo said, laying a smaller hand atop Fili's larger one. He and Thorin had gone through their own trials for their love, and he could see that Fili was now standing on the verge of that same trial.
"I am," Fili said, meeting the hobbit's gaze head on, his voice fierce with conviction.
"Then you have your answer already, Fili."
There was only one way to save his brother's life…but there was also a very great possibility he might fail in his task. So, telling no one of his plans, the prince stole away from the castle, disappearing into the night, just as his brother had so many years before.
Kili opened his arms wide for Fili as he came running to him out of the trees. Fili swept him up and spun him around. The younger dwarf was nearly in tears as he pressed kiss after kiss to his older brother's face.
"You didn't come to me at all this week. I thought…I was afraid I'd never see you again."
"Oh, you won't be rid of me that easily. We'll be seeing a lot more of each other from now on. I have it, Kili…the answer. I know how to set you free."
Kili blinked in incomprehension. "How? How could you possibly-"
"Kili…I need to know…do you love me?"
For a moment, heart-stopping uncertainty shone in the younger dwarf's eyes. "I…I don't know. I mean…I think so…hope so. I just…what does it feel like…to love?" he finally asked him.
"When Thranduil took you away from me…I felt like a part of my own heart had been ripped away. It didn't feel right again until we were one. When I see your eyes, I lose my breath, and I dream of your kisses in my sleep. When I see you cry…I want to change the world so it doesn't hurt you anymore. To see your smile is my happiness. I would give my life to save yours," he said, reaching forward to touch Kili's face. Kili leaned gratefully into the touch.
"Is that…what it feels like? To be in love?"
"Then…then yes…I think that's what this is. I love you."
"And do you trust me?"
"Then I need you to do something for me."
"I need you to call Thranduil for me."
For a moment, Kili just stared at him, eyes widening in horror. "What?"
"I need to speak with him."
"Are you mad?" Kili asked, his voice little more than a whisper. "Thranduil will kill you."
"Maybe so…but if you are to die in two weeks' time, what difference does it make? Either my plan works or I die on this spot. I couldn't go on without you, Kili," he said, laying his hand on his brother's shoulders.
"And how would I live my last weeks…knowing I brought your death on you?" Kili returned, gazing back at him with a spark of anger in his eyes.
"With the knowledge that we will be together soon. We will live or die together. You said you trusted me. This is what trust is. My brother…my lover…will you do this for me?"
"But I…I don't know what will happen," Kili said, the fear beginning to return to his eyes.
"And that's why you trust me. This will work," Fili said, his voice filled with more conviction than he felt.
For a long while, Kili just stood there, worrying his bottom lip and struggling not to meet his brother's gaze. But when he finally did, he nodded once before closing his eyes and leaning his head back.
"I trust you, Fili."
"Thank you," Fili said softly, pulling him into his arms and kissing him.
"Oh, my. I'd say the little dwarf has a death wish. Wouldn't you agree?" the elvin king's voice sounded in their ears. Kili made to leap away from Fili, but his brother held tight to him, slowly turning to face the elf, who was accompanied by a small entourage.
"Thranduil," Kili murmured, his mouth dry.
"Why did you call me, Kir? Has this boy been harassing you?"
"No," he mumbled, not meeting the king's eyes.
"Thranduil, elf king, I am Fili, son of Vili, prince of Erebor," the young prince announced himself.
"Yes," Thranduil sneered. "I know who you are. I remember. Twenty-one years ago, it was. I told you the day would come your loyalty would get you into trouble. Was I right?"
"Let's find out," Fili said, replacing his arm around Kili's shoulders. "This dwarf is my brother, Kili. You stole him from me twenty-one years ago, and I now claim him."
"And what makes your claim over him any truer than ours?"
"I love him."
All of the elves visibly stiffened at this declaration and Thranduil's look of scorn quickly shifted to something chilling and dangerous.
"I see. And does our lamb return your love?" Thranduil asked, nearly snarling at Kili.
"He is…my life," Kili answered, finally looking up at Thranduil.
"Your life? Well, my little one, what's to stop me from ending your life right here?" Thranduil asked, a half-crazed look entering his eyes as he turned on Fili.
"It wouldn't make any difference," Fili warned him. "Even if you kill me tonight, it won't change the fact that…in life…I loved him. It won't change the fact that Kili was loved…and that he loved in return. He is not unloved. He's ruined for you."
Once again, the elf king's expression underwent a radical shift…this time from near feral to devious. He reached a hand forward to rest it on the prince's shoulder.
"You speak with the fire of one who is young, princeling. I would not so quickly give up my little treasure to your whims. After all, a quick fuck in the moonlight is hardly love. Yes, Kir, I do know who you were with that night, so don't look so shocked," he added before turning his attention back to Fili. "If you would have me believe that you love my little bird, you will have to prove it to me."
"What do I have to do?"
Leaning down close to Fili, Thranduil seized his shoulder, pressing in close to whisper in his ear, "Anything I demand of you. If you deny me, even once, I will take it as a sign that you do not really care for your dove and send you forth from my halls with no memory that he ever existed."
For a moment, Fili looked stricken. Even worse than to lose Kili to the elvin bonfires…would be to lose even the memory of him. To lose the image of his dark eyes and his smile, the gentle wave of his dark hair and the feel of his skin beneath his fingertips…the sound of his laugh and the feel of his name whispered between those full lips…to lose him…everything that he was…would be like dying. He might live for many hundreds more years, but if Thranduil stole even the memory of his baby brother, Fili knew he would live as if he had already died…without ever even knowing why. Wordlessly, he nodded. He could not lose Kili. Not again. Not like this.
"Good boy," Thranduil said, releasing him. All at once, the young dwarf's legs gave out beneath him and he fell to his knees, trembling. Immediately, Kili was beside him, holding him.
"Fili! Fili, are you all right?!"
"That's exactly where you belong, isn't it," the king admonished the two brothers. "On your knees before me."