“And then he swooped in and chopped the orc’s head off!”
Fili raised the victorious toy dwarf in his hand as Kili squealed in delight, clapping his hands together. The two were sprawled on the floor waiting for Dis to finish preparing supper. Fili had been entertaining himself and his brother by creating a mock city of Dale and using the two toy dwarves they had to fight off the evil dragon (a pillow) and his army of orcs (buttons). Kili didn’t quite understand what was going on, but he seemed to find his brother’s story entertaining enough.
“And then- what is it Kili?”
Kili reached out a hand for the toy, fingers opening and closing in that uncoordinated way all infants possess.
“No Kili, it’s mine. This one’s yours,” Fili tried to give his brother the second toy that was lying abandoned on the floor but Kili pushed it aside.
“No, it’s mine Kili.” Fili raised his own dwarf soldier above his head, frowning.
“You can’t have it, it’s mine!”
“Want!” Kili demanded.
Fili stood up, intending to go back to their bedroom and play soldiers by himself. To his horror, Kili’s face suddenly scrunched up as he let out a wail, fat tears leaking from his eyes and down his cheeks. Fili hesitated, unsure what to do. He eventually sat back down as Kili’s cried grew louder, biting his lip.
“No Kili, don’t- don’t cry,” he pleaded weakly, moving closer to his brother. “Look, you can play with him too, just don’t cry.” But Kili continued to wail, the tears falling faster as his cheeks grew red.
“Kili please, stop crying.” Fili moved until he was seated beside Kili, tentatively pulling him into his lap. He held the toy out in front of them, making sure it was in Kili’s line of vision.
“You can have him. See? He wants to play with you too.” He made the toy walk up Kili’s leg slowly, trying to gage his younger brothers reaction. The wailing had stopped but there were still tears trailing down Kili’s face as he sniffled, hand slowly reaching out to clutch the toy. Fili relinquished it easily, using the edge of his sleeve to wipe the tears from Kili’s face.
“Mine,” Kili said as he grabbed the toy. Fili sighed.
“Yes, it’s yours,” he acquiesced.
Kili grinned at him before shoving the toy into his mouth.
Fili was exhausted.
After several months of being cooped indoors due to a particularly harsh winter, Kili had finally managed, through much wheedling and pouting, to convince their mother to let them spend a day at the markets. The fresh air will do us good, he had told her reassuringly. And we’ll be ever so careful, we won’t knock over any stalls this time. Dis just stared at them both disbelievingly but eventually agreed on the condition that they returned home well before dark. Fili personally thought she was just happy to have the house to herself for a while.
They hadn’t actually bought much, just a few titbits their mother had requested. Kili had been eying several daggers but wasn’t able to afford them, and Fili refused to buy them from him. The further Kili stayed away from sharp things the better, in his opinion. After spending several hours on their feet though, the novelty of being outside again had worn off and more than anything Fili just wanted to go home and sleep.
“What?” Fili asked tiredly, not bothering to turn around.
“I’m tired.” Kili’s voice was quiet than normal, the hint of a whine barely audible.
“So am I.”
“Fili,” Kili drew out the last letter.
Fili couldn’t help but huff out a laugh.
“You’re five and twenty Kili, you are far too old to be carried,” he admonished lightly.
They continued in silence for several minutes, Kili’s footsteps becoming slower and heavier. The stick he’d been using to help him walk was being dragged uselessly at his side, the noise grating on Fili’s nerves. It was a stark contrast to the silence between them. Kili normally wouldn’t shut up, commenting on anything and everything he saw but for once he was oddly quiet. For some reason it saddened Fili more than he would want to admit.
“Fee, please?” Kili finally asked quietly, his voice wavering slightly. Fili came to a halt reluctantly, turning to face his brother. His scrawny dark haired brother who was currently staring up at him with large eyes and a half hopeful expression, fingers fiddling with his too-long sleeves. Fili sighed, shook his head, and then sighed again.
“This is the last time,” he warned even as he turned his back and bent slightly. Moments later Kili’s hands wrapped around his neck as he hopped onto Fili’s back, bony knees digging into Fili’s waist. Fili hooked his arms under Kili’s knees and straightened up, his back groaning slightly in protest.
“You said that last time,” Kili snickered as they continued along the path, Kili’s stick left behind in the dirt.
“Do you want me to drop you?”
Kili laughed delightedly, digging his nose through Fili’s hair to nuzzle against his neck.
“You wouldn’t,” he murmured contentedly.
“I wouldn’t,” Fili agreed, unable to contain his own smile.
It was over twenty minutes later when they could finally see their small house. By then Kili was half asleep, head tilted forward onto Fili’s shoulder. Hs grip on Fili’s neck had turned lax, forcing Fili to bend over slightly to ensure his brother didn’t fall backwards.
“Oh my, what happened?” Dis exclaimed as she came running out of the house.
“He felt tired,” Fili explained dryly. Kili stirred, once again tightening his hold on Fili’s neck.
“Five more minutes Fee,” he mumbled into Fili’s hair. Dis hid her smile as she rubbed Fili’s shoulder.
“There’s still a little while before supper,” she said quietly and Fili nodded, rolling his eyes.
“I’ll go put him to bed.”
He continued the trek towards the front door, barely able to hold in his smile as Kili mumbled something about losing his carrots to the Elves.
Fili flinched as the front door slammed loudly. Moments later, Kili came storming into the room, eyebrows furrowed and mouth pulled into a vicious scowl. Fili was about to reprimand his brother for his treatment of the door when Kili moved into a patch of light and the dark bruise marring his cheekbone grew visible.
“What happened?” Fili exclaimed as he dropped his book on the ground and rose to his feet. Kili flinched, apparently not noticing the room had been occupied.
“Fili? I thought you were out sparring.” Kili’s eyes darted nervously around the room as he tried to hide his face but Fili was having none of it.
“Who did this to you?” He demanded as he strode forward and grabbed Kili’s chin, turning his face to examine the bruise. Kili twisted out of Fili’s hold, once more scowling.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does, we have to show mother-”
“No!” Kili’s eyes flashed as he moved back. “No, don’t tell her.”
“Kili, she needs to treat your face-”
“No. I don’t need another lecture on how I’m an heir to the throne and I should learn to control my temper!”
Fili sighed, having been on the receiving end of that lecture himself.
“Okay then I’ll get Oin, he can-”
“He’ll just tell mother once he’s done. No, you and I can do it,” Kili replied, looking Fili directly in the eyes for the first time since he’d entered the room.
“Kili, I don’t know how to patch you up.”
“It’s just a bruise Fili, it’s not hard. Just rub some of that ointment stuff on it.” Kili rolled his eyes as he self consciously brushed a hand over the bruise, wincing slightly.
“It’s not just a bruise. You’ve got scratches on your arms and there’s something wrong with your side, I can tell,” Fili shot back. Kili scowled.
“Fine, it’s more than a bruise. Are you going to help me or not?”
“This is ridiculous-”
“If you don’t help me then I’ll just do it myself,” Kili shot back, eyes flashing dangerously.
“You are impossible” Fili growled as he pushed Kili towards the table, yanking out the creams and ointments he’d seen their mother use to treat cuts and bruises. He placed them roughly on the table to emphasise his displeasure in case Kili hadn’t already picked up on his tone. Kili didn’t even flinch, already pulling off his tunic to reveal a darkening bruise on his side and several deep scratches up his arm.
“What happened?” Fili asked after several moments of silence as he dabbed at a particularly deep gash on Kili’s arm.
“It was nothing,” Kili muttered and Fili paused his ministrations, looking hard at his brother.
“Stop lying Kili. This is the third time this week you’ve come home after a fight. I don’t know what’s going on but-”
“Do you want to know? Do you really want to know?” Kili asked harshly, and Fili blinked at his tone.
“I just told you I did, didn’t I?”
Kili pushed his chair back with a loud scrape and stood up, moving towards the window. In the light, it was clear that he was favouring one side
“There’s a group of dwarves. Three of them, not much older than me. They come to the training grounds when I’m practising archery.”
“Oh Kili,” Fili murmured, sensing where the story was going.
“They don’t like the fact that I’m good with a bow and arrow. Doesn’t sit well with them apparently. Neither does the fact that I haven’t grown a beard yet, or that my nose is too small.”
“They said I’m not a real dwarf.” Kili’s voice was wavering, and although Fili couldn’t see his face he could tell there were tears in Kili’s eyes. “They said my father was an elf, that I’m a half breed, that I don’t belong here. They said I’m not properly related to you, that you’re probably ashamed to have me for a brother.” Kili’s voice cracked and Fili couldn’t help but rush forward.
“Never think that,” he said tightly as he pulled Kili to his chest. “I would never- Kili you-”
“I know,” Kili rasped, burying his face into Fili’s shoulder. “I know but it still hurts. To hear them say that.”
“Who are they? What are their names?” Fili asked as he pulled back slightly, but Kili shook his head.
“I can’t tell you.”
“What do you mean? If they threatened you-” Fili’s pulse was racing in anger and it clearly showed on his face, if Kili’s placating hands on his shoulders were anything to go by.
“No, I mean I don’t want to tell you because you’ll just go and beat them up for me.”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
Kili huffed out a laugh. “I have to deal with this myself Fili,” he said quietly. “You can’t fight this one for me.”
“Yes I can.” Fili replied obstinately.
“Fee. You have to let me deal with this on my own.”
“Three on one isn’t a fair fight.”
“I can handle them Fee. Please.”
And as much as Fili wanted to deny his brother, he knew in his heart that this was something Kili had to do alone, to prove his worth not only to them, but to himself.
“Fine. But you come home straight after. And you don’t try and hide any bruises from me. And if this continues for more than a week, you have to tell me their names. No-one bullies my younger brother and gets away with it,” Fili said fiercely and Kili beamed at him.
“You’re the best Fee.”
Fili blinked up blearily at the shadow hovering above him.
“I’m cold Fili.”
“Go to sleep Kili.” Fili replied tiredly, rolling over to his other side. Unfortunately this didn’t deter Kili who merely walked around him and ducked down to peer at Fili’s face.
“Can I sleep with you?”
“It’ll be warmer.”
“Kili no, go to sleep,” Fili whined. It wasn’t unheard of, for dwarves to share a bed when the nights were particularly cold. Being brothers, he and Kili had often shared a bed as dwarrows and occasionally did so even now. If Fili was completely honest with himself, sleeping beside his brother was often more comfortable than sleeping alone; Kili whose body heat could almost be mistaken for a furnace, who slept with his limbs sprawled over his brother, ensuring Fili would be warm for the night. But here, surrounded by dwarves who were so much older and more mature than them, Fili couldn’t help but feel that sharing a bedroll would only belittle himself and his brother in their eyes.
“I can’t sleep, I’m too cold.”
“Come on Fee, I’m freezing. Please?”
Fili groaned but lifted up his blanket. Kili immediately crawled in, shuffling until his back was pressed firmly to Fili’s chest. And Kili had been right; it was much warmer. Kili let out a content sigh, reaching back to haul Fili’s arm over his chest, snuggling further into his brother.
“If you kick me, I’m tossing you out,” Fili warned.
“Who me?” Kili mumbled innocently.
Fili rolled his eyes and shifted to get more comfortable. He eventually dozed off to the sound of Kili’s even breathing and the feeling of soft, tangled hair beneath his cheek.
When he awoke the next morning, it was to find Kili half sprawled on top of him, drooling on his tunic and hoarding most of the blankets. Nearby, Thorin was giving them both a half affectionate, half appraising look.
“Kili, wake up,” Fili mumbled as he struggled to push his brother off him. He was rewarded with a loud snore and a snort of derision from a certain Hobbit seated nearby. Grumbling, Fili pushed harder until Kili rolled off him with a loud thump, jerking awake to the sound of the entire Company bursting out laughing.
Fili knew the battle was still going on. He could hear the sound of swords clanging in the distance, the fierce screams of victory and despair equally. He could see, in his periphery, dwarves, elves, men and orcs alike fighting for their lives, fighting to the death. But all that paled in comparison to the sight of his brother, his baby brother, lying before him with a broken arrow impaled in his chest.
He slid into the small hideout Kili was in and dropped to his knees, eyes frantically darting between the arrow and Kili’s pain filled face.
“Oh Mahal, Kili,” he breathed. Kili let out a shuddered breath, a shaky hand reaching out with minimum coordination. Fili took it wordlessly, clasping it between both of his own.
“You’re going to be fine Kili,” Fili murmured even as his eyes dropped back down to look at the arrow sticking out of his brother. But Kili was shaking his head, a sad smile gracing his lips.
“Not this time,” he replied quietly, eyes closing momentarily as pain flickered on his face. Fili swallowed, throat beyond dry.
“No, it’s- you’ll be fine. I’ll get you to Oin, he can help you-” Fili’s hands darted nervously around Kili’s wound, torn between trying to help and the fear of causing Kili more pain. Kili shook his head slowly.
“We’re too far from the healing tents,” he said quietly. “I can’t- I can’t move, and it’s too dangerous for him to come here.”
“Have you seen any of the others?” Kili interrupted, voice strained slightly. Fili shook his head.
“Everyone’s so spread out, I lost sight of most of them. I saw Dwalin and Uncle Thorin at one point, but then I got- distracted.”
Kili frowned as he took in Fili’s pale face beneath the blood stains, the way he moved gingerly.
“Fili are you-” Kili paused as his eyes moved across Fili’s form, taking in the blood, the bruises and-
“Fili, you- you’re bleeding,” came Kili’s horrified whisper and Fili flinched as he tried to block the sight of his wound from Kili but it was far too late. Kili’s hand moved to hover over the gash trailing from Fili’s armpit to his hip, his expression one of despair.
“It’s nothing Kili, don’t worry,” Fili tried to reassure him but Kili shook his head, eyes wide.
“No, you have to- you have to get it fixed,” he protested.
“It’s a little too late for that,” Fili admitted as he sat firmly on the ground, groaning slightly as his wound tugged painfully. Blood was still sluggishly staining his tunic, staining the ground beneath them and mixing with Kili’s to create a gory pattern between them.
“No, you can make it, you can get to Oin,” Kili objected, struggling to sit up.
“And leave you here?”
“Fili, please. You can- you have to get help, you have-” Kili broke off as he moaned involuntarily, hand moving towards his wound. Fili stopped him.
“I’m not leaving you,” he said firmly.
“Fee, you’re hurt,” Kili whispered brokenly, a tear slipping down his cheek.
“I’m not leaving you,” Fili repeated quietly as he brushed the tear away, struggling to hold himself together. He gently manoeuvred Kili’s head and upper body into his lap, carefully trying to avoid jostling Kili too much. His own wound protested but he ignored it, pushing the pain to aside. Kili groaned quietly but relaxed once he was in Fili’s arms, tilting his head so he could look at Fili.
“Do you- do you think mother would be proud of me?” He asked softly. Fili nodded, momentarily blinded as his eyes filled with tears.
“Yes Kili. She’d be ever so proud,” he managed to get out.
“And Uncle Thorin?”
Fili nodded again, smoothing back Kili’s hair with a trembling hand.
“Are- are you proud of me Fee?” Kili whispered, eyes uncertain.
Fili’s breath hitched in his throat as he lowered his forehead to rest against Kili’s.
“I’ve always been proud of you Kili,” he breathed. Kili sniffed, trying to maintain his composure but failing as his eyes filled with tears once more.
“I don’t- I don’t want to die Fee,” he choked out, voice cracking and Fili’s heart broke.
“You’re not going to. I won’t let you,” he replied fiercely, his free hand gripping Kili’s tunic firmly.
“I don’t want you to die for me,” Kili continued, voice more broken than ever.
“We’re not going to die Kili.”
“You’re lying,” Kili accused, his breaths coming out in short pants. Fili didn’t reply, focusing his attention on gently untangling Kili’s hair.
“Fee, please,” Kili whispered.
“I’m not leaving you,” Fili repeated once more and Kili let out a muffled sob, fingers moving to clamp on Fili’s blood soaked tunic tightly as he buried his face into Fili’s chest. Fili carded his hand through Kili’s hair reassuringly. The pain in his side was almost nonexistent now; a part of him knew that was a bad thing, that feeling pain had meant his body was still fighting. A larger part of him didn’t care.
“I’m scared,” Kili whispered into his tunic after several minutes of silence. His voice was softer, weaker, and Fili knew time was running out.
“I’ll protect you,” he replied and Kili lifted his head.
“From death?” He asked with a raised eyebrow and a tone that was so Kili.
“From anything.” Fili replied honestly, pressing a soft kiss to Kili’s hair.
And Kili smiled.