Actions

Work Header

Illusion of Progress

Chapter Text

Fili lay on his back in the darkness of the room that he shared with his brother. His thoughts were reeling and sleep eluded him. He thought back on how Kili had kissed him the night before, which led them to confess their feelings for each other and changed their relationship forever. Just thinking about it made his stomach twist. He doubted he’d get any sleep that night.

They’d spent the whole day in Thorin’s rooms, postponing the return home for as long as they could. Alone in those rooms, it felt like being in a universe of their own, where rules didn’t apply, where they didn’t have to hide, or explain themselves to anyone. Most of all, they’d feared facing their mother, because they thought that, being their mother, she would somehow know. So, once they had returned, they spent as little time with her as possible. After a quick dinner, they eagerly withdraw from her company.

Even in the privacy of their room, they hadn’t dared do much. They’d exchanged a few touches and a single lingering kiss before readying themselves for bed and attempting to sleep.

That is how Fili found himself in this moment, lying on his back and gazing, unseeing, up at the ceiling obscured by darkness, thinking back on the day behind him. He could hear his brother’s breathing from across the room, calling out to him. He wanted nothing more than to walk over there and touch him, yet he didn’t dare.

Even knowing that their mother was probably asleep, he felt it was too risky to and do anything under her roof, especially since their door didn’t even have a lock. Growing up together and sharing a room, they’d never had much privacy and until now, they’d never needed any, so there was no lock. Fili cursed the fact now, for in that moment, he really longed for one. A locked door would have given him the courage to walk across the room and take what he wanted.

As it was, he lay there, and thought, and longed.

Some time later, Fili heard a shuffle of sheets from across the room and the soft creaking of floorboards. It took a few moments to register, and by then, a hand was already pulling the covers away from him.

“What are you doing?” Fili asked in a disbelieving whisper.

“Shh, just scoot over,” his brother replied.

Without even giving him a moment to think, Kili was already nudging him to move over. Too shocked to argue, Fili did. As soon as he was under the covers, Kili moulded himself against his brother, wrapping his arms around him.

“We cannot do this here!” Fili whispered urgently.

Kili was always the more reckless of the two, always focused on the things he wanted, rather than what he should do. In response, he simply wrapped his arms tighter around the blond and pulled him closer.

After a few moments of just lying there, Fili returned the embrace and buried his nose in Kili’s hair.

“Kee,” he sighed. “We really cannot risk this.”

Kili hid his face in the crook of his brother’s neck and mumbled, “I know. I just need this tonight.”

Fili sighed and held him. He started running his hands over his brother’s back and rubbing his cheek on the top of his head. Kili relaxed against him and practically purred happily. Fili, on the other hand, was still on edge.

“We must be very careful,” Fili said. “If someone were to find out—“

“No one will find out,” Kili interrupted him.

He was always so certain that everything would go his way. Fili knew his brother well and knew how stubborn he could get, but he also knew that just believing nothing bad could happen would not keep the danger away.

“If we’re really serious about this—” he started. The moment the words left his mouth, Kili’s head snapped back and he looked at Fili, hurt.

“If?” he asked.

Fili paused and gave him an exasperated look. “If we mean to protect this, we must be careful, Kee. People will not understand. Imagine telling our mother!”

The thought obviously made Kili pause.

“She will not find out,” he said after a moment, but he didn’t sound as certain anymore. “We will be careful,” he agreed, at length. He went quiet for a few moments and then reached out his hand, running the back of his fingers across his brother’s cheek and lifting Fili’s head to look at him. “I can’t lose this,” he finished.

“Neither can I,” Fili replied, and pulled him back against him in a tight hug.

They held each other for a few long moments, until Fili pulled away and cupped Kili’s face in his hands, caressing him tenderly. He explored the face he knew so well, the short stubble that always drove his brother crazy, thumbs tracing the corners of his mouth. As he touched there, Kili’s tongue flicked out to meet him, desire clear in his eyes.

With a choked moan, Fili pulled him in for a searing kiss. It seemed to go on forever, but still ended too soon, and Kili made a noise of protest, following Fili’s lips in an attempt to reclaim them. The hands on his cheeks held him back.

“We have uncle’s rooms,” Fili suggested and, as the thought registered, a huge smile spread across Kili’s face. “But you’ll have to climb in and let me through the door, cause I don’t really fancy trying to climb in on my own again.”

They both laughed at that, their chests touching as the laugher shook them.

“No one will look for us there.”

Kili grinned mischievously. “I like how you think.”

“Is that all you like about me, brother?” Fili asked teasingly, making the brunet laugh.

“I should think the answer to that is pretty clear!”

Kili ran a hand across Fili’s chest suggestively, heading lower. When he reached his lower abdomen, Fili’s hand snapped up and grabbed his, holding it in place.

“Not here,” he growled, voice thick with desire.

Instead of stopping, Kili pressed up against him and leaned over to lick the side of his neck. “Then let’s go to uncle’s rooms.” The wet trail led upwards, to Fili’s ear, fingers sneaking up to tangle in the blond curls. In a hot puff he breathed, “I need you. Now.”

Fili choked a moan and pushed him off. In one smooth move, he had Kili pinned against the bed, his full weight pressing into the body beneath him. He kissed him savagely, all tongue and teeth. Kili’s hands dug into his hair, tugging even closer. The brunet was making small sounds deep in his throat, eagerly responding to Fili’s touches. Long moments later, but much sooner than either of them would have liked, Fili pulled away.

“We cannot do this here,” he panted desperately, repeating it again.

Whether he was saying it to Kili, or convincing himself, he did not know. 

He rested his forehead against Kili’s, breathing deeply and closing his eyes. “I wish we could go now, but it’s late and if mother saw us leaving—“

Kili nodded, a reassuring hand setting on Fili’s lower back.

“Tomorrow.” The word held a promise.

“Tomorrow,” Fili echoed.

They lay together for a while longer, kissing lazily, before Kili got up and walked back to his bed. It took a long time for either of them to fall asleep that night.

 


 

As they got dressed the following morning, Fili realised with a mixture of horror and smug pride that there was a large purple bruise forming on Kili’s neck, just over his collarbone. Knowing that he was the one who put it there drove a surge of arousal through him.

Just before Kili closed the last couple of buttons and covered it, Fili came up to him and turned him around. Without saying a word and ignoring Kili’s questioning look, he leaned down and kissed the spot where the bruise was forming. He sucked on it, making Kili gasp. It only lasted a moment and already Fili was backing away, his eyes holding a promise of more to come.

“Let’s have some quick breakfast and go,” he said.

Kili could only nod, his heart pounding in his chest.

When they got down for breakfast, Dis had already set the table. It was covered with food; a big loaf of freshly baked home-made bread sat at the centre of the table and the smell of fried bacon and eggs filled the kitchen.

“Morning,” they both said at once, taking their usual seats at the table, opposite each other. Their mother always sat at the head of the table, because she was, after all, the head of their household.

When she heard them walk in, she turned around and smiled.

“Good morning to you, too,” Dis replied. She gave them a sideways glance. “All sorted now?”

“Yeah,” Kili mumbled awkwardly, while Fili only nodded, looked down at his plate. She gave them a long look, noting the strange behaviour, but dismissed it as a consequence of their fight and joined them at the table.

Once the subject was changed, both of them managed to act normally, or at least seemingly so.

Under the table, Fili could feel Kili’s knee bumping against his leg and nudging at him playfully. He gave him a warning look, but Kili grinned mischievously and continued what he was doing. It was difficult for Fili to concentrate on the conversation, especially when Kili got increasingly bold and started running his knee along the inside of Fili’s thigh. His breathing sped up and he gripped the fork painfully hard.

“Are you alright?” Dis asked, concerned.

Fili practically jumped, head snapping up to look at her. “What?” he gasped.

“You’re all red. Are you running a fever?” She pressed a hand to his forehead and he tried to squirm away, swatting at her hand. It didn’t help that he could hear Kili sniggering from across the table.

“I’m fine! It’s just this heat.”  Luckily for him, it was a rather hot morning. Dis gave him another long look, but left it at that.

Still feeling flustered, Fili quickly finished his breakfast and excused himself. He announced that he had to run an errand for Balin and hurriedly left the house.

In truth, he stood on a side street a few houses down and waited for Kili to join him, like they planned. It didn’t take long before Kili got there, still grinning like a lunatic. Fili just gave him a dirty look.

“Oh, don’t be mad. That was fun!” the brunet laughed.

“For you, maybe,” Fili replied sullenly, before sobering up and adding, “That was a very stupid risk to take.”

Kili frowned.

“It’s fine, she didn’t see anything!” he said dismissively. He moved closer to Fili, crowding his personal space. “And if you want me to be careful, we’d better hurry, or I’ll do something reckless right here,” he said in a whisper, fingers tracing the collar of his brother’s shirt.

They held each other’s eyes until Fili growled, pushing away from the wall he’d been leaning against. He grabbed the hand touching him and tugged. “Let’s go.”

 


 

It was more difficult to sneak into Thorin’s rooms during the day. They were lucky that Kili was very good at climbing and could do it quickly. It only took him a few seconds to get up into the tree, a few more and he’d already reached the top branches, all without making a sound. In a graceful move, he easily jumped across and landed on the window ledge.

When he did it, it seemed like the easiest thing in the world. Fili stood some distance away, looking at him, and shook his head, a small smile tugging at his lips. Just last night he almost broke his neck trying to do this, yet it was so simple for Kili.

It took a few moments for Kili to open the latch on the window, using a pocket knife. Once he was inside, he hurried down and opened the door for his brother.

“Damn window,” he grumbled. “I’ll just leave it open next time. I don’t want someone to see me up there.”

Fili nodded, agreeing. “At least the door is easy to open once you’re inside.”

Thorin had a special door which was impossible to open without a key from the outside, but inside, a simple latch held the mechanism in place, so that a key wasn’t needed to open the door at all. It did, however lead to a couple of rather funny situations when Thorin managed to lock himself out, one time in nothing but his underclothes. He’d had to walk all across Ered Luin, practically naked, and get Kili to climb in through the window, much like he did now, and open the door for him. In Fili’s mind, that proved just how secure that door was; if their uncle hadn’t managed to bring it down that day, no one could.

They walked in and as soon as the door was closed, Fili was pressing Kili into it, kissing him with everything he had. It was messy and urgent, their hands trying to touch everywhere at once. Fili’s thigh settled in between Kili’s and he moved his hips in a way that made his brother moan into the kiss. Kili’s hips jerked in turn, following the rhythm, his hands sliding over Fili’s back and settling on his ass, squeezing and drawing him closer, crushing them together. Fili panted and broke the kiss, while Kili moaned and leaned his head back against the wood of the door.

“Let’s go upstairs.” Surprisingly, Kili was the one sensible enough to suggest this.

They started moving up, not letting go of each other, kissing all the way up the stairs. When they reached the top, Kili backed Fili into a wall, taking control. The blond smirked, liking the role reversal.

Kili latched onto his brother’s neck, sucking at the delicate flesh there, hands leaving lingering touches all over Fili’s chest, making him shiver. He used his height advantage to loosely pin Fili’s wrists above their heads, pressing him into the wall using the full length of his body.

As he did that, Fili raised an eyebrow and smirked. They both knew he was the stronger one and that he could easily dislodge Kili if he wanted to, but if the tightness in his breeches was anything to go by, he enjoyed this more than a little.

Kili started unbuttoning Fili’s shirt, kissing every inch of skin that presented itself to him. The action was more than a little clumsy, since he was doing it with one hand, the other still holding his brother’s hands in place, and Fili couldn’t help the breathless laugh that escaped his lips.

“Don’t laugh!” Kili whined, making Fili laugh even more.

“Sorry, sorr—“

Kili ground his hips upwards, driving his hardness into Fili’s, effectively choking the laughter in his throat and making him moan. He continued to rock against him, adding to the sensation by running his free hand over Fili’s thigh, moving inward, painfully slowly, sliding up inch by inch and, finally, taking hold of his cock.

Even through the clothes, Kili’s touch made Fili buck up, his knees almost giving out. They were both new to this, their touches inexperienced and clumsy, but the mere thought that they were doing this together, after repressing their desire for so long, added to the excitement.

Kili grinned devilishly at him. “Was something funny?”

Fili had finally had enough and broke Kili’s hold on his wrists. “Bed, now,” he growled, but instead of doing as he said, he pulled Kili back against him, rocking their lower bodies together. He kissed him deeply, biting his bottom lip, keeping it between his teeth and tugging playfully, as he pulled back.

His pupils were blown, only a small ring of blue visible around the black, and he didn’t remember ever feeling so out of control in his life. He was a being driven by desire and he only wanted, only needed more, more, more.

Still kissing, Fili moved away from the wall and started to steer Kili towards the bedroom. They kept stumbling, clawing at each other’s clothes in an effort to remove them, too aroused and focused on each other to navigate the furniture in a house they didn’t know very well. Finally, Fili had had enough. He lifted Kili off the floor and, despite a rather undignified gasp, the brunet’s legs automatically wound themselves around Fili’s waist.

“What are you doing?” Kili asked, breaking the kiss.

“It’s faster.”

And Fili was kissing him again, strong arms holding him in place. Kili’s hands buried themselves in Fili’s hair, nails scraping against his scalp. The bedroom wasn’t far and now that Fili was carrying him, they reached it quickly. He deposited Kili on the foot of the bed, but the younger dwarf held on and pulled Fili down with him.

They landed in a tangle of limbs, pulling at the clothes, all but ripping them apart. Fili was straddling Kili whose legs dangled off the edge of the bed. He’d finally unbuttoned Kili’s shirt and carelessly tossed it to the side. Immediately, his lips latched onto Kili’s collar bone, teasing the sensitive spot already there.

He continued moving downward, mapping out Kili’s body with his mouth, as he writhed underneath him. Fili’s talented mouth was driving the brunet crazy; he was nipping and licking, leaving wet trails all over his torso. Even more tantalising was the feel of his brother’s moustache braids retracing the steps his mouth had taken. Kili’s body was on fire.

“Fi—Fili!” he gasped and Fili’s eyes snapped up to look at him. “Please, I need—“

At the word, the blue orbs glazed over as another wave of desire washed over him.

“What do you need?” he asked, mouth brushing over Kili’s skin.

“I—I need—“ He groped for Fili’s hand blindly, and once he found it, guided it towards the straining bulge in his breeches. “Touch me!”

Fili ran the tips of his fingers over the clad erection, serving only to tease even more, instead of giving any sort of release.

“Be patient,” was all he said and silenced Kili with a kiss.

He continued his exploration of his brother’s chest, swirling his tongue around his right nipple, biting hard enough to make him gasp. He didn’t linger there too long, moving his exploration lower. When he reached Kili’s navel, his tongue flicked inside, causing the brunet to buck off the bed in surprise. Making use of this distraction, Fili’s deft hands took that moment to untie Kili’s breeches.

Fili’s palms splayed across Kili’s lower abdomen, pulling the trousers low on his hips, exposing a patch of coarse dark hair. As his mouth continued to leave wet kisses and bites over Kili’s stomach, his fingers carded through the dark curls. He then moved even lower, mouth following where his fingers had been, while his hands moved to Kili’s hips to pull his trousers all the way down and off.

As he moved down along Kili’s body, Fili had reached the end of the bed, so instead of looming over him he settled on his knees at the foot of the bed. He took in the sight before him – Kili, lying completely naked in front of him, hard and flushed, panting with need – it took his breath away.

Kili must have sensed the pause and the absence of the body pinning him down, and he opened his eyes, searching for Fili.

“What are you doing all the way there?”

Fili smiled complacently. “You’ll see.”

He hooked his arms around Kili’s knees and pulled him closer, so that his hips were resting at the very edge of the bed. He ran his hands slowly, teasingly, along inside of Kili’s thighs and Kili’s head dropped back on the mattress, his eyes falling closed. Fili pried his legs apart and settled between them.

He leaned down and left butterfly kisses over the inside of Kili’s thighs, gently sucking at times, turning the brunet’s breathing increasingly more laboured and heavy. Moving up, but still not where he was wanted, Fili’s lips latched onto the joint between Kili’s thigh and his hip, sucking hard. Kili let out a loud moan and his cock twitched where it rested against his stomach, still untouched.

“Fili, please!” he said brokenly.

“Mm,” Fili hummed against the tender flesh, sending tremors over Kili’s whole body. “Where do you want me to touch you?” he asked innocently.

“Is it here?” He stood up and leaned over Kili to give him an all-consuming, dizzying kiss.

“Or here?” This time he pinched the nipple he’d already made sensitive before, using his mouth. Kili could only gasp.

“Or, maybe...” he moved back to where he’d been kneeling, “here.”

He took Kili’s cock in his hand and deliberately ran his tongue from the base to the tip.

It was a good thing that he’d had the foresight to hold down Kili’s hips as he did that, because he the brunet let out a broken sob and his hips jerked forward. Fili grinned smugly and secured his brother’s hips with his elbows. He then leaned forward and repeated the action, lingering at the tip and twirling his tongue over the slit, teasing. He could hardly believe the keening sounds escaping Kili’s mouth. Some of them sounded like yes and more, so he did just that.

The next time his tongue reached the tip, he stayed there, wrapping his lips around the head and sucking. Kili’s hands snapped up and clutched at Fili’s hair, tugging painfully. Fili sucked harder, before moving his head down, experimentally running his tongue along the length, adding to the sensation.

Taking cue from the loud moan escaping Kili’s mouth, he did it again, and again, each time trying to take more of the length inside his mouth. The hands in his hair gripped even tighter and tried to guide his head down, moving it faster and meeting it with shallow thrusts. The very idea of Kili practically fucking his mouth made Fili moan, sending vibrations up Kili’s length and nearly making him come.

Fili wrapped his hand around the base of Kili’s cock, because he couldn’t swallow it whole, pumping in time to meet the movement of his head. The pleasure was almost overwhelming.

It took extraordinary effort, but Kili leaned up on his elbows, wanting to see. The sight of his cock disappearing into Fili’s swollen mouth, the usually tidy blond hair dishevelled and cheeks flushed, made his eyes roll into his head with arousal, a whimper escaping his lips.

“Look at me,” Kili moaned, and Fili’s eyes locked on to his. “I want you to look at me as you take my cock inside your mouth.”

Fili’s eyes darkened, closing for a second as he moaned around Kili’s cock again. Kili’s nails dug into his scalp and Fili’s hand sped up. They held each other’s eyes as Fili worked him. He could tell that Kili was very close, because he could taste precome on his tongue. He sucked in time with his thrusts, bringing Kili even closer to release.

“I—I’m going to—“ Kili was tugging at his hair, trying to pull him away, but Fili would have none of that.

The blond just sucked harder, using his free hand to cup Kili’s balls, kneading and squeezing. In a moment of inspiration, his fingers moved lower, circling the puckered entrance.

The feeling was so intimate and unexpected that it completely overwhelmed Kili. He let out a loud cry, eyes going wide and breath hitching in his throat. His hips jerked up helplessly, burying him deep into Fili’s mouth, as a blinding orgasm crashed over him.

Fili’s hand kept pumping him, mouth sucking and swallowing around his release. Despite his best effort, Fili was new to this, and the sensation so foreign and strange, that he couldn’t swallow it all. He pulled back a little, hand never pausing in its movement, most of the come escaping his mouth and trickling down his chin. He was still sucking, trying to swallow as much as he could, because according to all the books he’d read, it was something he should do. So, he kept stroking and sucking until Kili was well and fully spent.

Once Kili had finished riding out what was probably his longest and most intense orgasm so far, Fili let his softened cock drop from his mouth, still tasting him on his tongue.

Kili stretched out lazily, letting out a long, sated hum. He opened his eyes and looked at Fili, who was trying to remove the excess come from his beard by wiping it on the back of his sleeve. His moustache still glistened wetly. Kili made a face at that.

“Why didn’t you move away? Did you really just swallow that?” Kili asked in disbelief, clearly disliking the idea.

“Mm. You taste nice,” Fili replied licking his lips.

Nevertheless, that wasn’t entirely true. More than anything, it tasted strange, but since it proved beyond any doubt what intense pleasure he’d given to the one he loved, it was the most amazing taste in the world.

Kili swatted at him.

“Liar!” he giggled. “Come, let me see,” he pulled at Fili’s shoulders until the blond came over and lay beside him on the bed. Kili kissed him, tasting himself in Fili’s mouth.

“Doesn’t taste very nice to me,” he said, making a face.

Fili threw his head back and laughed. “Well, it tastes wonderful to me. It tastes like you,” he said and pushed a strand of hair behind Kili’s ear.

“Shut up,” Kili grumbled and pushed at him playfully, cheeks reddening a little. “I don’t see how it could taste nice.” He paused, a mischievous glint appearing in his eyes. “But, I guess there’s only one way to find out.”

As he said it, his hands were already reaching for Fili, moving down his chest and starting to remove his clothes.

 


 

The next few weeks were spent in a haze. Looking back, they were probably some of the happiest weeks of their lives. They were enjoying their newfound love and happiness and used every opportunity to escape to their safe haven and be alone.

There they would become completely wrapped up in each other, in touches and feelings, losing all track of time and everything else around them. When they were together, everything else faded into insignificance.

They were learning each other’s bodies and after a few mishaps (Kili hadn’t had the foresight to hold Fili down the first time he took him into his mouth, which led to a rather uncomfortable choking incident), they were getting quite good at knowing what the other liked and what pleased him most. They were content.

At home, they tried their best not to let anything show and after the first couple of days, when Fili was unbearably awkward every time their mother was around, they got a lot better at it. Their relationship had changed, though, that much was undeniable. To anyone who knew them, it was obvious. Especially to Dis, attentive as she was.

She looked at them at every opportunity, trying to understand what was different. However, it was difficult to pinpoint just what had changed and since the direction their relationship had taken was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind, the stalemate continued and the boys continued to be blissfully ignorant that they were even being watched.

Kili tried to heed Fili’s warnings and be more careful at times when someone else might see them, but he was young and reckless and continued to take chances whenever opportunity presented itself. He would drive Fili crazy by giving him a quick kiss in the kitchen, while Dis was out of the room, or running a possessive hand down Fili’s waist as they descended the stairs in the morning, or even sneaking into Fili’s bed some nights, when he felt particularly daring. Fili tried to talk him out of it, but it was difficult, when it was obvious how much he wanted and enjoyed it too. At least Kili didn’t try to tease him over breakfast, directly in front of their mother, ever again, for which Fili was grateful.

They were truly happy, enjoying their life and getting used to their new routine. Things were going so well that they started to believe that maybe, just maybe, they could make this work. So, of course, that was when everything took a turn for the worse.

One morning, seemingly like any other, they came down for breakfast, playful and laughing, without a care in the world. As they reached the kitchen, they stopped dead in their tracks, the laughter dying in their throats. There, sitting at the head of the table, in their mother’s usual place, was their uncle Thorin.

Their hands itched to reach out for the other, seeking comfort and reassurance, but knowing they couldn’t do that now. So Fili balled his hands into fists instead and forced a smile to his lips.

“Morning, uncle. Welcome back!”

He couldn’t hear Thorin’s reply over the roaring screams in his head, knowing without a doubt that this would change everything.

Chapter Text

It was a beautiful early morning in Ered Luin. The light breeze was coming through the open windows and the smell of freshly made tea spread through the small kitchen. Looking across the room at his uncle, Fili found it strange that such an ordinary, sun-filled morning could come with such suffocating atmosphere.

Thorin was lost in thought, looking sombre, the exhaustion and tiredness evident in the dark circles under his eyes. He was leaning over the table, where his hands cradled a steaming mug of morning brew, a deep frown etched upon his face. Dis was nowhere to be seen.

Fili wondered what weighed on him. His own mind was racing, frantically thinking about the state in which they’d left Thorin’s room. The bed was unmade and obviously slept in. Thorin hadn’t been due back for several more weeks, at least, so they hadn’t bothered to be careful. As it was, there really wasn’t any doubt as to what had happened in that bed.

Had Thorin been home yet, Fili wondered in terror. Maybe he’d come to see them straight away. Perhaps there was still a chance to distract him and take care of things before he saw anything. Maybe there was still hope! Fili’s hands shook slightly.

Taking a deep breath and balling his hands into fists, Fili summoned his courage and wished Thorin a good morning. It was only then that he looked up and realised that his nephews had come into the room. He gave them a small smile.

“Boys,” he said, inclining his head.

Fili held his breath, trying to decipher Thorin’s expression. He didn’t look murderous so maybe, just maybe, there was a chance.

Realising they were still standing in the door awkwardly, and that it would soon start to look strange, Fili started to move, hearing Kili follow behind. They went up to the table and Thorin stood to greet them. He placed a hand on each of his nephews’ shoulders, squeezing firmly and looking at them with pride. They nodded at him and gripped his arms in return. It was the same way they always greeted each other.

Fili’s stomach was still tied in knots and he worried, but as he saw Thorin treat them no different than usual, he slowly began to relax. All he could see in Thorin was approval and pride, shown in his particular reserved kind of way. In fact, the only thing that seemed different was Kili’s behaviour. He was usually ecstatic whenever Thorin returned, turning into a bundle of energy, laughing and asking all sorts of questions about their uncle’s trip. Now he seemed unusually quiet.

“How was your trip uncle? Where was it to this time,” Kili asked, at last. Even then, the question lacked its usual enthusiasm and there was a peculiar edge to his voice.

It made Thorin pause and both he and Fili turned to focus their attention on Kili. He had a huge smile on his face, but Fili saw that it was forced, slightly cracking around the edges.

 “You must tell us everything!” he tried to sound excited.

Thorin gave a sigh and rubbed a hand across his eyes. “I was in a small township of Men in Emyn Beraid. So many of our people need work these days, and I had no choice but to seek work there,” he answered.

That explained his foul mood. Being anywhere near Emyn Beraid meant that there were plenty of Elves around, even in a town governed by Men. Silently, Fili wondered what the White Towers must be like, but he dared not ask.

Instead, he and Kili moved around the kitchen, preparing their food, as they listened to Thorin recount stories from his trip. Unsurprisingly, most of his memories involved the arrogance of Elves and how Men held them in much higher regard than the mighty race of Dwarves. After a while, Fili tuned him out, still too shaken after the initial fright to focus on his stories.

Once their food was ready, Fili and Kili sat in their usual seats at the table and started to eat. They slowly got drawn into Thorin’s story and started to relax, forgetting for a while that this changed everything and that Thorin’s return would cost them the only privacy they had. They even laughed at his outraged account of the time when an Elf came into his smithy, asking Thorin to make him a specially designed necklace.

“I’m a smith, not a bloody jeweller! Besides, I would rather starve than take money from an Elf,” he growled heatedly, both of his nephews nodding in agreement. The dark mood had dissipated and everything seemed back to normal. Fili found himself enjoying the company of their uncle, along with the feeling of his full belly, as he wiped his plate clean.

After he’d finished his story, without preamble, Thorin suddenly said, “I found my room in a quite a state when I returned.”

Fili and Kili immediately froze and went stonily silent. Kili stared wide-eyed at Thorin, while Fili looked at anything but him. As the eldest, he knew he was the responsible one. He knew blame would fall on him.

The Dwarven society was liberal in many aspects. Since there weren’t many Dwarf women, it wasn’t unusual for two male Dwarves to lie together. But to be with one’s brother was considered unforgivable and wrong. The Dwarves had the same view of incest as the race of Men.

In their particular case, as the heirs to the line of Durin, it was even worse. They were supposed to lead by example, be better than common Dwarves and, of course, produce an heir. All of which was impossible now.

Fili knew how much the throne, and the line, meant to their uncle, so he expected the worst.

Fili steeled himself and forced himself to face Thorin. Let him be damned. He loved Kili and whatever suffering came as a consequence of that, he would gladly accept it. Kili was his One, he had no doubt about that, and any Dwarf would gladly and willingly sacrifice anything for his One.

As he looked up, he was shocked to see a knowing smile on Thorin’s face. It made his mind go blank, not comprehending what was happening. Fili could distantly feel his mouth drop open, gaping at Thorin.

When Thorin saw his terrified expression, his smile went wider, eyes twinkling. For a bizarre moment, Fili considered the possibility that their uncle knewand approved.

Thorin covered Fili’s hand on the table with his own and gripped it firmly, followed by several quick pats.

“My boy, you have grown.” There was pride in his voice and Fili’s head was spinning because this wasn’t how he’d imagined this going at all and how could Thorin be ok with this. There had to be an explanation.

Dis chose that moment to walk into the room.

“Who’s grown?” she asked, curious. “My little Fili? You weren’t gone that long!”

All three turned to face her and Fili used that moment to chance a glance at his brother. Kili looked as bewildered as Fili felt. When Dis saw their matching expressions, she paused, her attempt at a joke falling flat.

“Am I interrupting a bonding moment?”

“No, dear sister, I was just trying to sort out a rather alarming intruder situation that I had while I was away.”

“Oh,” Dis said knowingly, making the two young dwarves look even more lost.

They looked from her to Thorin, trying to understand.

“But that was a while ago. I’m surprised you could still see consequences of it now. What did you do to that room, Kili?”

“Kili?”

For the first time, Thorin sounded confused, eyes fixing on his younger nephew. Kili looked from Dis to Thorin and finally to Fili, eyes wide, not knowing what to say.

“Aye, Kili. He ran off one day and spent the night there. But that was several weeks ago,” Dis explained, placing a basket of dry laundry on the far edge of the table, taking some of it out and starting to fold it. She was only half paying attention to the conversation.

After a moment of initial surprise, a smirk returned to Thorin’s lips. “I’m quite certain that is not what this was. The bed looks thoroughly slept in, and a lot more recently, too!” He fixed a pointed look at Fili, whose breath caught in his throat.

“And judging by my nephew’s reaction,” Thorin continued, raising his eyebrows at Fili and chuckling slightly, “I’d say I’m quite right in my assumption. So, tell us, boy, who is she?”

For a terrible moment, the whole room went completely and absolutely silent.

Fili blinked.

She.

And the pin dropped.

Of course Thorin would misunderstand. Of course he wouldn’t assume the truth. Not in a million years, and possibly not even when confronted with evidence, would he believe that his nephews would do such a thing. He should not have hoped for acceptance. Fili knew. He should not have expected the impossible.

But still it hurt. It hurt to think he’d found approval, only to be reminded what was expected of him.

Fili felt like walking underwater; everything was in slow motion and his ears were humming. He turned to look at Dis who’d stopped folding the laundry and was looking at him. Her eyes were blank and her face expressionless.

Fili’s eyes moved to Kili who was clenching his fists so hard that they start shaking. Quickly, he hid them under the table, before anyone saw. But Fili did. The brunet’s eyes were fixed on his plate with a lost and angry expression.

Finally, Fili looked at Thorin, who was still looking at him expectantly.

Mustering up every ounce of strength he possessed, Fili looked his uncle in the eye and gave a bashful, lopsided grin. “Ah, but uncle, that would be telling!”

Thorin chuckled and patted Fili’s hand again, before taking a large gulp of his tea.

“You’re a well mannered young Dwarf! Your mother raised you well!” he boomed in approval and lifted his mug in salute to Dis.

Dis had a slightly wild look in her eyes, focused on her younger son, and it took her a moment to notice she was being addressed. When she did, she gave a loud huff.

“Well, of course! I may be younger, but you know full well who taught you all the manners you have, Thorin Oakenshield!” She looked at him pointedly and he chuckled again.

“Aye, aye, that is true.” He looked at her fondly.

He continued drinking tea in silence for a few moments, Dis resuming the folding, while Fili and Kili tried to calm their racing hearts. Fili looked at his brother and saw that he was still staring at the table despondently. In an effort to cheer him up, Fili nudged him with his knee under the table. Kili jumped in his seat, startling everyone into looking at him.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I think I dozed off for a second.”

Dis gave him a long look, but returned to what she was doing. Thorin continued to watch him and Kili gave a small self deprecating laugh, before shovelling some food into his mouth to create a distraction. Thorin eventually went back to his tea.

Fili wanted nothing more than to reach across the table and hold his brother, because it was obvious how much Kili needed it right now. Doing so for no apparent reason, however, would raise too many questions and that was the last thing they needed. So, instead, he bumped their knees under the table again, since that was the best he could do.

This time, Kili lifted his eyes and looked at him under his bangs, still not raising his head. He looked so vulnerable and lost, but when his eyes locked on Fili’s, he gave a small, reassuring smile and it made Fili’s heart swell. They still had this. Whatever came their way, they would always support each other; they’d lend some strength even when they themselves were weak. And as long as this was true, they would be alright.

Fili returned Kili’s smile and continued to rub his knee against his brother’s leg in a reassuring way. It was a mockery of Kili’s teasing touches, from what seemed like lifetimes ago, after they’d just confessed their feelings to each other. Unlike then, the mood was far gloomier now.

Also unlike then, when they’d jokingly avoided their mother’s attention, they failed to realise that, as she moved to place the empty laundry basket back in the pantry, Dis had a clear view of everything happening under the table.

 


 

After finishing their breakfast, Fili and Kili withdrew to their room. They climbed the stairs in silence, keeping a distance between them. As soon as the door to their room was closed, however, they crashed together, sharing a series of desperate, reassuring kisses and clinging on to each other.

After a while, when they calmed somewhat and their kisses became less needy and tender, Fili realised that Kili was shaking against him. He broke the kiss and leaned back to look at him.

“You’re shivering! Are you alright?” he asked, worried.

Kili shook his head and wrapped his arms even tighter around Fili. When he lifted his eyes and met the blue ones, there was anger there, and agitation.

“I hated that, Fee. I hated sitting there, like a lamb waiting for the slaughter, praying we don’t lose this! I hated feeling helpless like that!” he said heatedly. “And then having to listen to uncle talk about you and a girl...” Kili’s eyes darkened.

“You know that would never happen,” Fili said reasonably. “There could be no one else.”

Kili’s eyes softened and he gave a small smile. “I know.” He nodded to himself. “I know. Same for me. And that’s why it makes me even angrier that we have to hide. That I have to listen to uncle be so proud at the mere thought of you finding a girl, while I have to pretend not to care!”

Kili’s voice grew more heated and angrier as he spoke. Fili placed a hand on the back of his neck and Kili paused, taking a deep breath to calm down.

“We’re not doing anything wrong. I wish we could show them that,” he finished despondently.

Fili gave him a small, sad smile.

“I don’t think they would see it that way, Kee.”

He cupped his brother’s cheek and caressed it tenderly. He leaned up and gave him a tender kiss on the lips.

The relief of not getting caught was surging through them, setting their bodies on fire. Fili wanted nothing more than to spend the day in bed with Kili reassuring each other and enjoying this perfect and wonderful thing they had. It also reminded him that they had a very big problem still to solve. As if reading his mind, Kili spoke up.

“What are we to do now that uncle is back?”

“We’ll have to find a way.” He pulled Kili against him. “But it can’t be here.”

“I know.”

 


 

As Fili and Kili left the kitchen, Thorin watched them go. Their behaviour that morning had been unusual in so many ways, and he didn’t know what to make of it. He’d expected Fili to be flustered, even embarrassed, when he mentioned his nightly escapades, but the blind terror he’d seen in his nephew’s eyes was something he could not explain. What could have made him react like that?

At that moment, Dis joined him at the table, holding a steaming mug of tea of her own. She seemed deep in thought and startled slightly as he began to speak.

“Do you think the boys were acting strangely this morning?” he asked.

She gave him a quizzical look. “What do you mean?”

“They seemed...” He shook his head. “They seemed to be hiding something.”

Dis felt her stomach clench. She was certain they were.

“Don’t be ridiculous. What would they be hiding?” She waved her hand dismissively. “Wouldn’t you act strange if someone brought up your nightly activities in front of your mother?” she asked teasingly.

Thorin made a noncommittal noise. “Perhaps.”

“I know for a fact you would.” She smirked at him. “But, enough about that. Tell me what brings you back so soon.”

“I needed some supplies that Men couldn’t provide. I must return to Emyn Beraid soon.”

“How long will you be here?”

“For a week, not more.”

Dis hummed and nodded. “It’s good to see you back, brother, if only for a little while.”

They shared a smile and continued drinking their tea in companionable silence. Not long after, Thorin left, needing to settle his affairs and eager to rest after the long trip he’d taken.

Alone, at last, Dis was able to focus on her thoughts.

She may have denied it, but she knew that Thorin was right. The boys were acting very suspiciously, and not just that morning. She’d been watching them over the past few weeks, her instincts telling her that something was not right.

She cradled the mug between her fingers absent-mindedly, despite the fact that it was long since empty, and glanced upwards, towards the stairs that led to her sons’ room.  She’d seen them touching under the table, there was no denying that. She’d also seen Kili’s expression when Thorin mentioned Fili being with a girl. She’d seen him stiffen and shake. That wasn’t a normal reaction.

And as for what Thorin had said... She’d noticed them become even more inseparable recently, so she couldn’t imagine that Fili could have found himself a girl.  She also knew that Fili couldn’t have been the one in Thorin’s rooms, because he never could have climbed up there on his own. At least, not without his brother. Thorin seemed to have overlooked this, but then again, he did have a problem with mixing them up at times. Dis, however, knew better.

On top of that, she’d noticed the changes in their behaviour. They’d always been close, but the looks they’d been exchanging lately, the way they gravitated into each other’s personal space, the intimate touches she saw them exchange once or twice when they thought they were alone... The overwhelming amount of evidence all pointing in the same direction made Dis consider the unthinkable. Her stomach clenched and she tasted bile in her throat. She leaned on her elbows, hiding her face in her hands.

Dis, daughter of Thrain, did not cry.

 


 

The following day over lunch, Fili and Kili announced they were going on a hunting trip. Dis suspected that wasn’t their real reason for going, but since she had no proper excuse to stop them, she didn’t argue. Besides, they needed food and having furs to sell and make some coin would always come in handy. So, she simply told them to be careful and ushered them out of the door.

When they reached the forest, the sun was already low on the horizon. They walked close to each other, their shoulders bumping as they moved, lost in conversation. Kili carried his bow strapped across his shoulders, while Fili carried the supplies they’d need in a backpack. They were both giddy with excitement. It had only been a day since they’d touched each other, but it felt like an eternity.

They walked along the forest path, lit by the sun breaking through the trees, and turning everything green and gold. Kili turned to look at his brother and in this dusk, he was more golden than ever before. He took Kili’s breath away.

Unable to resist, Kili grabbed Fili’s shoulders and turned him around to face him. He leaned in quickly, planting a loud, wet kiss directly on Fili’s lips. As he moved away, he grinned widely, before bolting and disappearing between the trees.

It took Fili a moment to process what had just happened and call out after him.

“Kili! What are you—“

He sighed and set off in the direction Kili had taken.

Kili was always the faster of the two, and it didn’t help that Fili was the one lugging all of their supplies. Still, he gave it his all and ran as fast as he could. He followed the trail of broken branches and crushed grass and soon enough he could see dark hair disappearing between the trees, just out of reach.

“What are you doing?” he gasped, breathless. “Wait!”

He could hear Kili chuckle, but the brunet didn’t stop, so Fili did his best to follow him. He kept running into low branches and tripping over roots and bushes, cursing under his breath. Just as his muscles were starting to protest painfully and his feet started to slow, he realised that he was closing the distance between Kili and himself. That could mean only one thing – Kili was slowing down, ready to be caught.

Using his last reserves of strength, Fili forced his legs to move even faster. In a few moments, he was upon Kili and without really thinking, he threw himself forward and grabbed his brother from the back, wrapping his arms around him.

Kili let out a sound of surprise and stumbled forward, barely managing to keep his footing. They stood like that for a few moments, Fili holding him, while they regained their breaths.

“You got me,” Kili whispered into Fili’s arms, half turning his head to look at his brother. He had a big smile plastered on his face.

“What was that about? We just scared off any game we could have caught tonight!” But instead of sounding angry, Fili shook his head fondly and buried his face in Kili’s hair.

“You were moving too slow,” Kili said simply, as if that explained everything. And maybe it did.

Turning in Fili’s arms, Kili ran his hands up his brother’s chest and leaned down to kiss him. The simple press of lips quickly became heated, both of them craving more. In moments, the supply pack and Kili’s bow ended up on the ground, already forgotten.

Taking a few steps back, Kili rested his back against a nearby tree, Fili pressing him into the bark. They were kissing and moving against each other, eager for more, but when Fili started reaching for Kili’s breeches, Kili stopped him.

“Get down,” he ordered, pushing at Fili’s shoulders.

The blond obeyed and Kili moved him into a sitting position with his back against the tree. Without hesitating, he straddled Fili’s knees and resumed kissing him. His hand found its way down and started rubbing Fili through his breeches, making him moan into the kiss.

In the past weeks, they’d done this so many times, that they both got increasingly good at it. Now it was with no trouble at all that Kili managed to unlace Fili’s breeches without looking, or breaking the kiss.

Fili hissed at being exposed to the cooling evening air, the sound turning into a moan as Kili wrapped his long fingers around him. Kili’s hand moved in a slow rhythm, Fili’s hips thrusting up to meet him and encouraging him to move faster.

Unable to wait any longer, Kili stood up and started to remove his trousers. Fili’s fingers covered his, pausing them, and drew him closer. Fili was the one who unlaced his breeches and pulled them down to Kili’s thighs, his hands gripping the soft skin. In one smooth motion, Fili tugged him closer and without any warning, pulled Kili into the wet heat of his mouth.

Kili gripped the tree bark with both hands, trying to keep upright, and moaned loudly, his head falling forward.  Fili’s hands moved up to Kili’s buttocks, kneading and squeezing, pulling him even closer. Kili really enjoyed being touched there, so Fili made sure to pay special attention to the sensitive skin, dragging his nails across it slowly. Kili made a keening sound as Fili accompanied his touches with light sucking.

It was quickly becoming too much for Kili, so he started to pull back.

“Hold on. Not like this,” he said breathlessly. “I want to see you.”

Kili sat back on his heels, returning to his previous position. Fili’s lips were wet, glistening in the sun, so Kili reached out to touch them, pulling at the braids framing his mouth. Kili smiled before leaning down and claiming the blond’s lips, moaning as he tasted himself on Fili’s tongue.

As they kissed, Kili’s hands quickly unbuttoned Fili’s shirt and let it fall open. Clumsy in his rush, Fili did the same. Kili moved closer, pressing up against Fili and aligning them together. He started rocking his hips forward, clutching at Fili’s shoulders.

The movement made their erections rub together, where they were pressed up between their bodies, and they set up a steady rhythm. Broken gasps escaped Fili’s lips, his nails digging into Kili’s hips, urging him on.

It wasn’t long before they were both panting and gasping, Kili leaning forward to rest his forehead on Fili’s, refusing to break eye contact even at that proximity. Their movements were becoming faster, slicker, and more erratic, as they grew closer to release.

As wonderful as it felt, the friction wasn’t enough to bring them to completion, so Kili took them in his hand and started pumping. The added stimulation was setting their bodies on fire. Fili’s hands moved lower to grip Kili’s buttocks again and the brunet leant down, buried his teeth in Fili’s throat and groaned. It made Fili’s hips jerk desperately upwards, a sob escaping his lips.

“I’m really close,” Fili moaned.

Kili choked a broken moan, closing his eyes for a moment, his hand moving even faster.

As he felt the beginnings of an orgasm pool in his stomach, Fili held Kili’s eyes and whispered, “Come with me, sanâzyung.”

Kili’s eyes widened, a gasp escaping him. The words and the sight of Fili arching up, his mouth falling open in a soundless scream, body shaken by an orgasm, brought Kili over the edge.  He held himself propped up with one hand against Fili’s shoulder, while the other dragged out their release for as long as possible. When it was done, he collapsed bonelessly against Fili’s chest.

When he managed to catch his breath again, Fili grabbed a rag from his backpack and wiped them clean, before wrapping his arms around Kili, hands tangling in his hair and caressing softly. Kili hummed gently. They lay in silence for some time.

“Did you really mean that,” Kili asked, later, barely audible.

“Hm? What?”

Kili was quiet for a moment, as if wondering whether to reply or not. When he did, he sounded uncharacteristically unsure.

“You called me sanâzyung.”

Fili gently pushed him away to look at him. “What else would I call you?”

Realising that Fili was waiting for a response, Kili simply gave a small shrug and looked away.

“Kili...” he sighed, forcing the brunet to meet his eyes again. “You are my One.”

There wasn’t any hint of doubt or hesitation in his voice.

Kili’s eyes widened, heart thundering in his chest, and in a split second, Fili found himself with an armful of Kili, who was kissing him with everything he had. When their kisses slowed and they finally parted, Kili looked at him, his hands holding onto the blond braids and drawing them away from Fili’s face. His eyes were bright and smiling.

“Just a few weeks ago, I never would have dared hope to hear those words from you!”

Fili smiled a little sadly. “Forgive me for being so stupid.”

Kili shook his head and lay back against Fili’s chest, listening to his heartbeat. “We were both stupid and afraid. But we’re here now, that’s all that matters.”

As he said that, he reached for Fili’s hand and entwined their fingers.

They stayed like that together, as the sun slowly set behind the trees.

 


 

When they came home that night, Kili and Fili brought back a doe, a boar and two decent sized rabbits. All in all, an impressive catch, considering how much time they actually spent hunting, and the amount of noise they’d made right before.

Dis seemed pleased with what they brought and after a light supper, all three of them set to work on skinning the animals and removing the meat from bones. They would use the meat to feed themselves, while the skins and furs would be sold.

Dis worked as a furrier and owned a small shop, not far from their house. Her sons often went hunting, and she thought it made more sense to prepare the furs herself and sell them, since she could make a lot more money selling clothes, than raw furs.

Over the next few days, she would spend most of her time at the shop, drying and preparing the pelts for use, as was the case every time after Fili and Kili returned from a hunting trip.

They spent several hours skinning the animals, and retired very late that night, rousing later than usual the following morning. As they descended the stairs, they met their mother on her way out of the door. She had her arms full of pelts.

“I’m going to the shop now,” she said, explaining the obvious. “I made some rabbit stew that you can eat, since I will be gone for most of the day.”

“Thank you, Mom,” they both said gratefully.

“Do you need help carrying that,” Fili asked, nodding at the pelts she was holding.

“No need, kidhuzel. You know it’s not far.” She smiled at him and patted his cheek. “I will see you tonight.”

And with that, she was gone.

Kili immediately turned to Fili, a happy grin on his face. He leapt forward, grabbing Fili’s hands and leaning to whisper in his ear, “We’ll have the house to ourselves today!”

He leaned back and looked at Fili excitedly, clutching his hands in emphasis. When Fili didn’t join his enthusiasm, Kili looked at him pointedly and wiggled his eyebrows.

“Kili...” he sighed, “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

“Ah, don’t be like that! You know how it is when she has work! She’s never home before nightfall. Never! And it’s not even midday yet!”

Kili moved forward and stepped into Fili’s personal space, carding his finders through Fili’s sleep-tussled hair. He pressed his lips against Fili’s ear and said, “Let’s go back to bed. It would be stupid to waste this chance.”

His lips moved to Fili’s neck and he started kissing lower, nibbling on his sensitive spots. It was impossible for Fili to refuse him anything, especially when he did things like this. So, of course, he agreed. He turned his head and claimed Kili’s lips in a passionate kiss, pulling him closer, before a loud rumble coming from Fili’s stomach interrupted them.

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly. “I guess I’m hungrier than I thought.”

Kili chucked and gave him a quick peck on the lips.

“You should have said. Come on, let’s have some breakfast.” He took Fili’s hand and led him into the kitchen.

The stew Dis had made was still warm, so they poured themselves two large bowls and sat at the table to eat. They ate in silence, glancing at each other every once in a while. Whenever Fili looked at him, Kili would eat deliberately slowly, licking the spoon clean with every mouthful and looking at Fili suggestively.

“Kili,” the blond groaned. “Do you want me to choke on my food?”

“Sorry, sorry,” Kili said, lifting his hands in apology, but he didn’t seem remorseful at all.

He continued staring at Fili hungrily, while he quickly finished his meal. Once he did, he reached across the table and started tracing meaningless patterns on the back of Fili’s free hand, distracting him even more. All of that probably made breakfast take even longer than it had to.

As soon as Fili too had finished eating, he stood up. After all of Kili’s teasing, he was just about ready to jump him right there, consequences be damned. He looked at the dirty bowls on the table and back at Kili, who had also started to stand, a smirk gracing his face, and he sighed.

“We can clean up later. Let’s just go to our room,” he said.

Kili nodded, grinning, and they quickly climbed the stairs and moved into their room. Kili was already starting to remove his clothes as Fili closed the door behind them. When Kili saw that, he rolled his eyes at him and shook his head.

“We’re alone. Stop worrying!”

Fili did feel a bit sheepish for being so paranoid, but somehow he felt safer with the door closed, so he left it like that. Even now, he wished that he could lock it.

Seeing Kili remove the last of his clothes erased any thoughts of locks or doors from his mind and he scrambled to undress as quickly as he could. When he did, he climbed into the bed, crawling on top of Kili, who was reaching for him eagerly.

They kissed, holding each other close, hands leaving arousing touches everywhere they could reach, their bodies moving together, rubbing together in just the right way. Without breaking the kiss, Fili reached down and took Kili in his hand, eliciting a loud gasp.

Only, the gasp did not come from beneath him; it came from behind him.

Fili’s head snapped back, hoping against hope that he’d misheard. But he did not. There, in the door, stood Dis, her mouth hanging open and her eyes wide. Her face showed horror, shame and disgust.

Fili moved as fast as he could. He jumped away from his brother, as if burnt, and quickly pulled a sheet to cover them. She didn’t seem to notice, her blank stare lost somewhere in their general direction.

Moments passed and none of them moved.

Then, trying to make things better, Kili tentatively said, “Mom—“

Dis fixed him with a look full of agony. Her eyes moved to Fili and then to the thin sheet covering them, taking in the whole picture. A tear escaped her, slowly rolling down her cheek and disappearing in her beard. Closing her eyes tightly, as if hoping it would make the scene before her disappear, Dis turned on her heel and exited the room, closing the door behind her.

The soft click of the door was louder than thunder.

Chapter Text

Dis sat in her armchair by the hearth. It was late morning, so the fire wasn’t burning. She was looking at burnt up coals, her mind elsewhere. Despite the room being sufficiently warm, her hands were shaking slightly where she pressed them together in her lap. She wasn’t crying; she’d managed to stop the tears, but she felt numb instead. The whole morning seemed like a dream, a terrible nightmare that she’d wished to wake from.

After leaving her sons’ room, she’d rushed down the stairs, tears threatening to overwhelm her. She’d gone into the kitchen and taken a glass of cold water, trying to slow her breathing. It had calmed her somewhat, so she’d moved to the living room, trying to decide what to do next.

Dis had suspected her sons were hiding something. She’d even considered the horrible possibility that there was something between them.  When she’d decided to return home that morning and check on them, however, she’d honestly expected her fears would be disproved. Instead, they were confirmed in the worst possible way.

She shuddered, leaning forward and rubbing her hands over her eyes and face, as if that would help erase the images from her mind. Even in her darkest fears, she hadn’t imagined that they could have taken it so far. It was clear they were staring to develop an unhealthy attachment, even some attraction as a result of that, but to think they were actually acting on it...

She pressed her hands together again, digging the nails of her right hand into the soft flesh of her left palm, using the pain to calm and ground herself.

Something had to be done. She had to stop this. Just thinking about them being alone at that very moment made her stomach turn and bile rise to her throat. She had to make sure this never happened again.

 


 

Long after Dis had left the room, Fili and Kili remained frozen on the bed. They couldn’t believe what had just happened. They were caught in the act by their mother, of all people. There was no way to justify or deny what she’d seen. Worst of all, they had no idea what she might do now that she knew.

Kili was the first to collect himself and he turned to his brother, trying to embrace him. However, as he touched him, Fili flinched away, leaving him empty handed and unmoving. His eyes flashed with hurt, but he wouldn’t be dissuaded.

“Don’t do this,” he said. “Don’t you dare do this.”

Fili looked sideways at him, but said nothing.

“I won’t let you shut me out. We’ll get through this together,” Kili insisted.

He tried to reach for his brother again, and this time Fili let him. He allowed himself to be pulled into Kili’s arms and rested his head on Kili’s chest. They stayed like that for a long time, until finally, after what seemed like a long internal struggle, Fili wrapped his arms around Kili in return.

“What if she comes back in?” he wondered quietly.

“It’s just a hug, Fee,” Kili answered offhandedly, but there was an underlying sadness to his voice.

They were quiet for some time, just holding each other, before Fili whispered back, “What she saw changes everything.”

“I know,” Kili replied, just as quietly.

They sat in silence, borrowing strength from one another for the rest of the morning, before they decided it was time to face their mother and whatever consequences awaited them.

Just before leaving the room, Kili moved to Fili and stepped into his personal space. They fit together so easily, so perfectly. Fili’s hands rested on Kili’s hips, sliding around his waist and drawing him near, his own snaking around Fili’s neck, as the blond lifted his head and claimed his brother’s lips in a tender, lingering kiss.

When he pulled back, Kili gave Fili a small smile and squeezed his hand.

“We deal with this together, yeah?” he asked, hopeful.

Fili nodded, reaching out a hand to cup Kili’s cheek.

“Just try not to do anything that would make things even worse,” Fili warned him.

“I would not!” Kili raised his voice indignantly. When Fili continued to look at him unfazed, he sighed and grumbled out, “Fine, fine.”

With that, Fili turned around and opened the door, heading for the stairs first, Kili right at his heels.

The stairs led down to the foyer, which connected to the kitchen, the living room, and Dis’ bedroom. Once he was down, Fili glanced into the kitchen and found it empty, so he headed for the living room, hoping she hadn’t withdrawn to her own room.

They found her sitting by the hearth, facing away from the door. Fili paused, waiting for Kili to catch up to him and unsure of what to say. What could one say in such a situation anyway? How could he make her understand this? He wondered if there were others like them and wished that he could ask them for advice.

As Fili hesitated, Dis broke the silence instead. “How long?”

Startled out of his thoughts, all Fili could say was, “What?”

“How long?” she asked again, trying to keep her voice devoid of emotion, but failing as it cracked at the last word.

“A month, give or take.”

It was Kili who answered. It was obvious he was uncomfortable and worried, but a lot more collected and in control than Fili.

Dis was quiet for a few moments, connecting the pieces in her head.

“Was that the reason you ran off that day?” she asked.

“Yes,” Kili said and her head snapped back to look and him and then Fili, her eyes wide and disbelieving. Realising how she might have misunderstood, Kili quickly continued, “No! Not like that! Don’t even think that! I ran off because Fili said ‘no’ when I—“

Fili grabbed his arm, cutting him off, because this was really not something they should be telling their mother. The look of shocked revulsion on her face showed that she agreed. She sat back in her chair, looking away from them once more and ran her hands over her face for what felt like the millionth time that morning.

Everyone considered her strong, smart and resourceful and yet she had no idea what to do. She’d never felt this helpless in her life. How could this have happened? How could she have allowed it to happen? She felt like she’d failed them in the worst possible way, and she didn’t know what she’d done wrong or how she could have prevented it.

Dis forced herself to turn around and look at them. She couldn’t keep pretending this didn’t happen. It had to be dealt with. As she tuned, the two of them walked farther into the room and sat on the chairs at the living room table, right next to each other. Kili reached for Fili’s hand where it rested on the table, but Fili took it for only a second, squeezed it, and shook his head minutely. They both needed support, but displays like that could only make things worse.

“Did you even try being with anyone else?” The question made them look up sharply at her, their matching expressions of shock an answer in itself. “Was that it? You couldn’t find anyone else?”

“No!” Kili yelled immediately, while Fili continued to look on in shock. He couldn’t believe their own mother would ask them such questions and think so little of them.

“Was it curiosity? You wanted to see what,” she paused, grasping find words, “those things felt like?”

“It wasn’t like that at all!” Kili said angrily. Judging by his voice, he was at the end of his patience.

The way he was talking back to her seemed to drive her over the precipice she was already tethering on and she yelled back, “Well what was it, then? Are you punishing me for something by trying to bring shame on the whole family?”

Fili flinched back in his seat as if struck, while Kili jumped out of his chair, making it topple over behind him.

“We are not doing anything shameful!” he yelled back, his fist colliding with the table.

There was no hesitation in his voice. He sounded absolutely certain. In stark contrast, sitting next to him, Fili looked like an image of guilt. Not paying him any mind, Kili ploughed on.

“Why do you insist on making it into something malicious or evil? It’s really simple! Fili is my One and I’ve loved him for as long as I can remember!”

Fili turned and looked at him with sad eyes, but gave him a small smile just the same. Dis on the other hand gripped the sides of her armchair and shook her head. “Stop!”

“And after years of hiding and being scared, it turns out he loves me too—“ Kili continued.

“Stop it!”

“—so why can’t you see it’s a good thing and just accept it?”

“Enough!” she screamed. “I will hear no more of this! Kili, go to your room.”

“No.”

“You will go right now, or Mahal help me, I don’t know what I’ll do,” she growled through her teeth.

Realising they’d pushed their mother to the end of her patience, Fili turned to his brother and took one of his hands in his.

“Go, I’ll be up in a minute,” he whispered reassuringly.

Kili looked at him, his eyes heated, obviously at war with himself. He didn’t want to leave Fili alone with their mother. He didn’t want him to get blamed for everything, but he also feared how Fili would react to being attacked. Fili ran a comforting thumb across his palm, squeezing his hand again. He searched Fili’s eyes and after what seemed like a wordless conversation between the two, Kili nodded and left without another word. He climbed the stairs to their room and left the two of them alone.

With Kili gone, the atmosphere got even more tense. It was obvious that Fili felt guilty and Dis didn’t hesitate to use it to her advantage.

“He is your little brother,” she said quietly.

He looked at her pleadingly, desperately, vulnerability and pain obvious in every move. “Do you think I don’t know that?”

“So how could you? You must realise how wrong that is.” Her voice was even. She was no longer yelling and making a scene, she was simply stating the truth.

Fili closed his eyes and turned away.

“You cannot understand.”

There was no way Fili could explain it. If it hadn’t happened to him, he wouldn’t have understood it either. Because, Fili knew it was wrong. He knew it was forbidden. And yet, when they were together, it was the only right thing in the world, the only thing that had meaning and made him happy. As wrong as it may be, Fili couldn’t make himself regret what had happened.

When it became obvious he would say no more, she just shook her head and sighed.

“You must stop this, Fili. You are the older one, so be responsible and end it.”

He looked at her in horror.

“I cannot. Do not ask that of me.”

“It can’t go on, you must realise that. You are both so young, especially Kili! He’s too young to know what he wants. And if others found out about this, they wouldn’t understand! You would be ostracised for life!”

Fili paled, his lips pressing in a tight line, but stood his ground. “We need each other.”

“Yes... I can see that. And that is my fault, for allowing you to become so attached. But you’re not children anymore and I never expected it to turn to this.”

The blatant disgust on her face as she said it felt like a knife to Fili’s gut. Unable to take any more, he stood up and faced her.

“I know this is a lot to take in. I don’t expect you to understand, but I hope you will at least try to accept it.”

Accept it? How could I? No, I won’t let this go on under my roof!”

He looked at her sadly, but nodded. “I see. We will be respectful of you and your wishes.”

She looked at him, nodding back, thinking she’d finally made him see sense, before he continued.

“I will try to find work and a place for us to live in the next few days.”

As soon as he said that, he turned around and left the room, without giving her a chance to reply.

 


 

When Fili returned to their room, he found his brother sitting on the edge of his bed, gnawing on his thumb in frustration. As soon as he saw him, Kili jumped up and approached him.

“What happened? What did she say?” he asked, searching Fili’s eyes.

Fili just shook his head and embraced him, burying his face in the crook of Kili’s neck and breathing him in.

“Fee?” Kili asked, unsure.

The blond just held on in silence, trying to stop his mind from analysing everything their mother had said.

“Fili, you’re scaring me! What did she say?”

“Can we talk about it later?” Fili mumbled against his neck, the warm breath creating goose bumps on his skin. “I need a moment to not think about it. Can we just...” he paused and rubbed his nose along the side of Kili’s neck gently, “can we just stay like this for a while?”

As much as he wanted to know what had happened, especially considering Fili’s strange behaviour, it was obvious how much Fili needed this right now, so Kili couldn’t help but agree.

“Sure,” he whispered and pulled his brother closer, rubbing his back soothingly.

They stayed like that for some time, leaning on each other and breathing in each other’s scent, seeking comfort. Kili was the first to break the silence.

“Whatever she said, whatever comes next, remember that I love you, âzyungel,” he whispered, kissing the top of Fili’s head.

As he said it, Fili inhaled audibly and his arms tightened around Kili, clutching desperately.

“I know, sanâzyung,” he breathed.

As he held Kili, Fili vowed to find a way to make this work.

 


 

The next couple of days were tense, a looming sense of dread hanging over them, but despite it, things mostly stayed the same. Life went on. The boys kept avoiding Dis, but she had to work in her shop and spent a lot of time out of the house anyway, which made it a lot easier to accomplish.

After Fili had told Kili what had happened, he insisted on finding work too, so they went searching together. They visited forges all over Ered Luin, making the owners more than a little surprised to see the heirs of Durin looking for work at their shop. Even so, none of them had anything to offer, so Fili and Kili went on in search of other things. They even considered doing manual labour and picking crops, but there was no work to be found. It shouldn’t have surprised them as much as it did, for even Thorin had had to travel for miles and put up with Elves to find work.

After three days of endless searching, they felt dispirited and utterly hopeless. The only positive thing was that their mother had mostly left them alone in all that time. She never invaded their privacy or tried to keep them apart, so they started hoping things might go back to how they were. It seemed that Dis was more than happy to pretend she’d never seen anything, and they didn’t mind going along with it.

On the third day, as they sat alone in the kitchen having lunch, they got a surprise visit from Thorin. He let himself in and greeted them from the door.

“Boys,” he said, inclining his head.

They lifted their heads in unison, surprised. “Thorin!” they chorused.

“Is your mother home?” he asked, craning his neck and peering into the living room.

“She’s at the shop,” Fili answered. He felt uneasy just thinking about Dis meeting up with Thorin. “We brought back some pelts a couple of days ago and she’s been working on them.”

“Mm,” Thorin said in recognition. He pulled up a chair and joined them at the table. “That smells really good. Do you mind if I join you?” he asked.

Fili smiled and Kili grinned, jumping out of his seat and going to grab a plate for Thorin.

“It’s roasted venison that I made!” he sounded incredibly proud and Fili chuckled under his breath. “Shut up!” Kili smacked his brother on the shoulder, but laughed himself.

“It looks tasty, but will I live to tell the tale?” Thorin asked, lifting an eyebrow, a small smile tugging at his lips.

Fili clutched his chest melodramatically. “Oh, the pain! My lungs hurt, it must be poison! Be careful, Uncle, the venison kills!” He made terrible choking noises and ended with his head on the table, tongue hanging out, playing dead.

“Oi, I’m right here!” Kili said in mock-offense.

Thorin laughed at their antics, shaking his head. As soon as Kili gave him the plate, he took a large slice of venison to put on it. As he tasted it, Kili looked at him expectantly, waiting to hear his verdict. Thorin chewed slowly, making thoughtful faces, keeping Kili waiting until he started to squirm. When he swallowed, he smiled and said, “It’s very good, Kili.”

Kili grinned widely, lighting up the room in the way that only he could. He quickly sat back down and they continued to eat together, talking about trivial things, forgetting about their worries for a little while.

 


 

After lunch, Thorin went to find Dis at the shop. When he saw her, he immediately knew something was wrong.

She had dark circles under her eyes, her face drawn and dark. It looked as if she hadn’t slept properly in days, or that she was very sick indeed.

Seeing the state of her, the first words that slipped his mouth, instead of a greeting were, “By Durin, are you alright?”

She looked up from the coat she’d been working on, her face impassive.

“Hello to you too, brother. What do you mean?”

“You look terrible,” he said, sounding deeply worried.

She fixed him with a level look. “Well, thank you very much.”

He frowned at her. “You know that isn’t what I mean,” he said impatiently. “I just want to know if you’re ill. But if your attitude is anything to go by, you’re perfectly fine.”

Of course she knew exactly what he meant. She was aware of how she looked. And she was even more aware of how she felt. She hadn’t slept properly since she’d found her sons in bed together. Even now, when they were tiptoeing around her and avoiding her, she couldn’t get the image from her mind. At night, when they retreated to their room, she made herself sick with thoughts and fears about what they were doing in there. She had to find a way to stop them and yet she couldn’t tell anyone about what she knew. The shame was too great and saying it out loud would somehow make it a lot more real.

“I’m not sick, I’m simply tired. I’ve been working a lot and I’m not as young as I once was. Working without sleeping took its toll on me.”

“Why not ask the boys to help you?” Thorin asked reasonably.

She paused for a second, not having an immediate excuse for his question; then inspiration struck.

“Fili has been searching for a job of his own. Since he is of age, he should become more independent.”

“I see.”

“Yes, except, there is no work to be found here,” she lamented.

She knew that. She’d known long before her sons started looking for work that there was none to be found in Ered Luin, but even if she hadn’t, the whispers around town and the fact that Fili still hadn’t approached her about moving out confirmed it.

Thorin realised she was looking at him expectantly, so he asked, “Is there something you’d like me to do about that?”

“I would like you to take Fili with you.”

Thorin seemed taken aback by the unexpected suggestion. They never spoke of it before and while he knew that a time would come when he would need to take Fili with him to teach and guide him as his future heir, he didn’t expect it to happen so suddenly.

“Would he agree to that? His life is here,” Thorin said doubtfully.

“Leave that to me. I think he will understand why he must go. He needs to grow into the dwarf he is meant to be, and staying here and having me and Kili hold him back will never allow that to happen.”

“You mean to separate them?” he asked, surprised even more. “Kili will not take that well. Nor will Fili, for that matter.”

“As I said, leave that to me. They’ve been too co-dependent for far too long. They must learn to live apart.” Her voice left no room for argument.

Thorin seemed unconvinced, but he could see sense in what she was saying.

“Alright. I leave in two days. That was what I came to tell you in the first place. Fili will need to be ready to leave by then if he is to come with me.”

She nodded. “He will be.”

 


 

When Dis came home, she decided to talk to Fili immediately and get the uncomfortable confrontation out of the way. However, the lights in the kitchen and living room were off, and the whole house was quiet.

She decided to climb the stairs and check in the boys’ room too, her stomach clenching as she approached the door, remembering what she’d found the last time she did this. She took a deep breath and, dismissing the idea of knocking, pulled the door open.

They were on the bed together and, as the door opened, they jumped apart, almost falling out of it. Dis gripped the door handle and growled, “Again?” Except, thankfully, they were both dressed this time.

Kili stood up from the bed, blushing and eyes glowing angrily, hands crossed over his chest. “We weren’t even doing anything! It was just a hug!”

“Kili, let me talk to your brother for a minute,” she ordered, ignoring what he’d said.

“Not again! Why not talk to me? This isn’t Fili’s doing! If anything, I’m the one who started it, so blame me!” he yelled angrily. He hated being dismissed like that.

Kili!” she said warningly. She took a deep breath and continued in a calmer voice. “I’m not blaming anyone. I just need to talk to your brother, alright?”

Kili bit his lip and looked at Fili, who nodded at him that he should go. He sent Dis another angry, defiant look before leaving the room.

Fili sighed and flopped back against the headboard as Kili left. He couldn’t believe that they ended up getting caught again. The worst thing was that it was actually true that they weren’t doing anything. They were just lying down, holding each other. It made him sick to think that now even an innocent hug between them was seen as something wicked and wrong, when they used to do such things all their life. It made him realise just how much everyone’s perception of them would change if they were to find out the truth. And it would probably be so much worse with other people, since this was their own mother.

“I spoke to Thorin today,” Dis said, snapping him out of his thoughts.

“So he knows now?” Fili asked bitterly.

“What? Of course not! I would never have anyone else know.” She made it sound like the very idea was outrageous.

He didn’t know whether to feel relieved that she’d kept their secret or sad that she felt their love was so shameful that she wouldn’t even let Thorin know. In the end, this was probably for the best, because dealing with Thorin would be far more difficult than dealing with Dis.

“As I was saying, I spoke to Thorin today and he leaves Ered Luin in two days,” Dis informed him.

Fili nodded, not seeing what this had to do with him.

“And you are to go with him.”

“What? No!” he protested, bolting upright.

“You will go,” she said with certainty. “As you’ve probably realised by now, there is no work here, so you can’t move to a place of your own. And I won’t allow you both to stay here.”

 He was shocked into silence for a few moments, looking at her incredulously.

“You are forcing me out of your house?” he asked, the pain making his voice crack at the end.

Her eyes softened and she approached him, placing a gentle hand on his arm. “No, Fili. I could never do that. But you need to put some distance between you and your brother.”

“Do you honestly believe that will change anything?” he asked sadly. “We were trying to run from it for years, and it didn’t work.”

“But you’ve always been too close. Having some time apart could make you see things more clearly.”

“I won’t go. I can’t go.” He shook his head. “Do you even realise what you’re asking me to do? I won’t hurt Kili in this way!” he said resolutely.

“It is because of Kili that I’m asking you to go!” she insisted pleadingly. Those words made him pause and look at her. “I know you love him... Mahal, I know, but this is wrong, my love. And Kili is only 39. Don’t mark him with this for the rest of his days. Give him a chance of a normal life!”

She probably knew it was the only reason that could get him to even consider doing such a thing. Because there was nothing, no sacrifice he wouldn’t be willing to commit for the sake of his brother.  It didn’t help that he’d been having such thoughts and fears himself lately.

He feared that he could ruin Kili’s life, turn him into an outcast, without even giving him a chance to choose someone else. Seeing how their mother reacted when she saw them together made him realise the kind of condemnation they would have to face.  He also feared that this intense, all consuming love they had could be co-dependency and obsession, rather than true love, on Kili’s part. He worried that, without even realising it, his own feelings had influenced Kili over the years and made him feel what he did.

Fili was quiet and thoughtful for a long while. He considered all the things Dis had said and all of the worries plaguing his mind. His eyes fell closed and a silent tear ran down his cheek. When he opened them and looked at his mother, Dis almost staggered at the amount of pain she saw there.

His voice was quiet and raspy as he said, “Alright, I will go.”

Chapter Text

After agreeing to leave with Thorin, Fili spent the next two days avoiding his brother. Kili noticed something was wrong and asked him about it, but Fili always had an excuse ready. He was worried about the situation with their mother, stressed about the lack of work, or he’d had little sleep the night before. Kili didn’t believe him, but even his best efforts to make his brother open up were in vain.

It was Fili’s decision not to tell Kili about leaving. Dis tried to argue, thinking it would only make the situation worse, but Fili was adamant. He explained that if he had to confront Kili about it, he would never leave at all, so she let him be.

Fili knew that his departure would hurt Kili as much as it was hurting him, but he had to do what he thought was best for Kili – his brother, his love – even if it meant sacrificing everything. Still, if he had to look at Kili and see the pain in his eyes, Fili knew that he would never be strong enough to go through with his plan.

He packed and prepared for the trip in secret. It was incredibly difficult to accomplish, since he and Kili normally spent all of their days together. Dis did her best to help him and distracted Kili by asking him to help around the house and sending him on errands as often as she could.

The night before Thorin and Fili were supposed to leave for Emyn Beraid, Fili could not sleep at all.

Each night, before falling asleep, he and Kili would spend some time kissing on Fili’s bed, before Kili would retire to his own. They always slept separately. That night, exhausted from all the housework Dis had made him do, Kili fell asleep on Fili’s bed, his arms still wrapped around his brother.  Fili held him as he slept, his heart heavy. He breathed him in; the scent of his hair and skin, embedding it into his memory. Mahal, he would miss this. He closed his eyes and willed the morning to stay away.

Time had no such compassion, however, and too soon, the sky started to lighten. Knowing that Thorin would be there to pick him up at first light, Fili let out a quiet sigh and carefully extracted himself from Kili’s hold. Luckily, Kili was a deep sleeper and he simply mumbled in his sleep, before turning the other way and continuing his slumber.

Quickly and silently, Fili dressed. He retrieved his backpack from the closet and slung it over one shoulder, standing at the foot of the bed. He took a long look at Kili’s sleeping form and steeled his heart. He wanted to go to him and kiss him goodbye, but he feared he’d wake him. So, he settled for looking. Fili wondered if Kili would ever forgive him for doing this. He clenched his jaw. Maybe it was for the best, if he didn’t. 

With that thought, Fili turned around and walked out of the room.

When he reached the bottom of the stairs, Dis and Thorin were already waiting for him, engrossed in a quiet conversation. When they saw him, they stopped talking and focused on him.

“Good morning. Are you ready to go?” Thorin asked.

“Yes,” Fili forced himself to say.

Thorin looked at him for a long moment, perhaps noticing his stony bearing, or the way his voice wavered. His eyes moved behind Fili, searching the stairs.

“Have you said goodbye to Kili? Isn’t he going to send you off?” he wondered.

A dark look crossed Fili’s eyes and he adjusted the backpack on his shoulder, looking away.

“No.”

Thorin frowned, obviously about to question him further, so Dis decided to cut in.

“I think you should leave now. The sun has risen and you have a long road ahead of you. Did you bring everything you’ll need?” she asked, turning to Fili, sounding every bit the fretting mother she’d always been. He simply nodded, anger and bitterness stilling his tongue. He still blamed her for being pressured into leaving.

“I prepared some food for your trip,” Dis said, moving into the kitchen to procure a small parcel filled with smoked fish and venison that she’d made for them. She gave it to Thorin, who took it gratefully and put it in his pack. He still had questions, but he knew Dis was right; they needed to get going, so he decided not to press the issue. It was a long walk to Emyn Beraid, there would be time to talk.

“Shall we go, then?” he turned to Fili, who simply nodded.

Thorin and Dis hugged, saying their goodbyes. It wasn’t too emotional, since they were already used to Thorin leaving. He never stayed away for more than a few weeks at a time, so there was no need for long goodbyes.

It was different with Fili, however. This was the first time he’d be away from home for an extended period of time and his departure was made even more significant by the truth of the reason behind it.

Dis moved to hug him, embracing him tightly, her eyes bright with emotion.

“Make me proud, kidhuzel,” she whispered into his hair.

Fili stood, letting her hold him, but not moving to hug her back. He bit his lips, either to keep back words or tears, and stepped back the moment she let him go. He quietly said, “Goodbye,” and moved past his confused uncle and out the door.

Thorin looked at Dis questioningly, not knowing what to make of Fili’s behaviour, but she just shook her head.

“Look out for him,” she said, her words carrying a lot of gravity.

“Is he alright?” Thorin asked, searching his sister’s eyes, hoping to find some answers there, since it was obvious no one was going to give him any.

“Just keep him safe.”

Thorin nodded. “You know I will.”

He turned and followed Fili out the door.

 


 

 

Kili woke when the room was bright, rays of sun falling on his face and stirring him from sleep. He opened his eyes blearily and stretched. He blinked, trying to make sense of where he was and why the room looked strange. His sleep addled brain slowly caught up with him and he realised he wasn’t in his bed.

He smiled as he remembered the night before and reached behind him, grasping for Fili. His hand found nothing but empty sheets and he turned, seeing the other side of the bed was empty. He made a small sound of protest and buried his face in the other side of the pillow, which still smelled of his brother.

Kili wasn’t a morning person and it always took him a while to force himself to leave the bed in the morning. Now that he was in Fili’s bed, he was even more reluctant to leave it. But, after a few minutes of light dozing, the rumbling of his stomach forced him to rise, get dressed and go down for breakfast.

He expected to find Fili in the kitchen, but there was no one there. He frowned, the good mood that held him since waking up in his brother’s bed starting to diminish. He headed into the living room, hoping he’d find Fili there, but there was only Dis. She was sitting in her armchair, reading a book.

She looked up as Kili walked in. He felt a sense of foreboding when he noticed her fix her jaw, in the way she would during an argument, as soon as she saw him.

“Where is Fili?” he blurted immediately, even if that wasn’t what he’d planned to say at all.

Dis slowly closed her book and put it away.

“He’s with Thorin.”

“Oh,” Kili said, relaxing a bit. “Is he helping him with something? Is Thorin making him clean up the mess in his room all on his own? That’s really not fa—“ The words died in his throat when he realised Dis was looking at him stonily silent.

When he stopped talking, she continued.

“Fili is with your uncle, in Emyn Beraid.” She looked him in the eye, unfaltering.

The room went absolutely silent as they looked at each other.

“No,” Kili whispered.

Dis’ eyes turned sad, but remained steely and determined. After a few moments, she looked away.

“No!” he repeated, yelling now. He ran to her and gripped her shoulders tightly, shaking her. “How could you do this? You forced him to leave!”

She was too shocked to stop him at first, looking at him wide-eyed as he shook her, but then she took hold of his upper arms and stopped him.

“Kili—“

“How could you do this to us?” he asked accusingly.

She tried to hold his eyes, but the look of utter devastation she found there was too much and she had to look away again. He seemed so young and lost and she tried to remind herself that this was precisely why she had to do what she’d done.

She cupped his cheek gently, but he flung his head away, shaking her off. Her hand dropped to her lap and she looked at him sadly.

“One day you’ll see this was for the best, my love.”

He glared at her and stood, moving a few paces away.

“No,” he spat out, shaking his head. “This will change nothing. One day you’ll understand what a terrible thing you’ve done.”

He moved out of the room quickly, slamming the door as he left the house.

 


 

The following weeks were almost unbearable for Dis. Kili refused to speak to her and avoided her as much as he could. At first, she tried to keep out of his way, but when she realised he wasn’t about to let things go, she tried to approach him and lighten his mood. Nothing she did worked, however, and she soon gave up trying, hoping he would forgive her in time.

Instead, things only got worse when Kili took up drinking. Each night, he would go to a nearby tavern and stay there until early hours of the morning, stumbling back drunkenly. Dis would hear him bang the doors and trample up the stairs, stumbling and running into things. He would sleep through the day, staying cooped up in his room until it was time to go drinking again.

He also started getting into fights. More often than not, when he got home drunk, he would also be covered in bruises, cuts and blood – usually not his own. It was a way of distraction, all of it. The drinking, the fighting, even the pain. Kili felt angry and betrayed. He mostly blamed their mother for what had happened, but he felt deeply betrayed by Fili himself. And yet, despite it all, Kili just wanted his brother back. To berate him, kiss him, or punch him, he didn’t know. Probably all three.

Every time such thoughts grew to be too much, he’d go out and stir things up again. He’d start a fight for no reason, he’d drink until he ended up spilling the contents of his stomach in some dark alley, or break things in his and Fili’s room.

When the situation became serious, Dis tried to stop him. She tried reasoning with him, arguing with him and even threatening to kick him out of the house, but no matter what she did, it didn’t work. After a fortnight, however, as abruptly as it had started, Kili’s behaviour suddenly stopped. He started acting like he had before. He was still quiet around Dis, still avoided her and was clearly still sad and subdued, but at least he wasn’t out drinking every night.

Several days later, Kili walked into the kitchen as Dis was eating, on his way to leave some things in the pantry. She used the opportunity to speak to him.

“Thank you for helping around the house again.”

He paused and turned to look at her. He shrugged by way of response.

“I’m glad you’re around more,” she said, obviously talking about the nights he was now spending at home again.

He frowned, narrowing his eyes at her. “I didn’t do it for you.”

She sighed. “No, I don’t imagine you did. Nothing I said could get you to stop. Whatever it was, I’m just glad it’s over.”

He looked at her, still angry, obviously weighing whether to say anything more or not.

“It’s been three weeks since Fili left,” he said, at last.

She didn’t seem to understand where he was going with that, so he rolled his eyes and continued.

“Thorin never leaves for more than a month or two. They should be back soon,” he said, sounding certain. “I don’t want Fili to see me like that when he comes back.”

Her eyes widened, then softened sadly.

“Kili...” she breathed.

“Don’t,” he cut her off, silencing her.

He continued about his business, while Dis remained at the table, thinking about what he’d said for a long time after.

 


 

The walk to Emyn Beraid took two days. It was a long way to walk in silence and after a while, Thorin was starting to tire of it. He tried to start up a conversation several times, but Fili would only reply politely and say as much as was absolutely necessary, before falling silent again. Ever since he saw him that morning, it was clear to Thorin that something was very wrong, but his nephew clearly wasn’t going to talk about it.

Fili concentrated on walking. One foot in front of the other. He tried to keep up with his uncle’s steady pace, despite the scorching sun high in the sky, the heavy load on his back and the heavy thoughts plaguing his heart and mind. Try as he might, he couldn’t find enough strength to talk. He could see that Thorin was really trying, in his own way, to cheer him up and get him to open up, but Fili simply couldn’t do it.

By the end of the second day, Fili had managed to force himself to speak a bit more and placate his uncle, but it was still far from his normal behaviour. Thorin hoped that things would change once they arrived, but he was soon proven wrong. Fili was much the same.

They were staying in a small room above the forge they were working in. It was cramped and untidy and barely habitable, but they had to make do. Since Thorin was supposed to be living alone, there was no extra bed. He had offered to share, but Fili declined, opting to sleep on the floor. He’d taken his sleeping bag with him and found an empty spot in the corner of the room, where he would sleep. Thorin felt guilty about it, but Fili insisted he didn’t mind. In fact, it seemed that Fili couldn’t care less if he slept or did anything at all.

Over the next few weeks, Fili would wake before sunrise, head down to the forge and work well into the night. He never complained and, despite the long hours he put in every day, the quality of his work never faltered. The customers were happy and word soon spread around town about the two Dwarves who could produce high quality metalwork seemingly overnight.

Thorin was pleased about the sudden influx of customers and about the positive things said about them. He’d worried when he took Fili along that, in his mood, he wouldn’t be fit to work at all, but it turned out quite the opposite. He didn’t seem to care about anything but the work.

One afternoon, a month after they’d come to Emyn Beraid, Thorin thought it would be a good idea to close the forge early and go to a tavern, since they’d fulfilled nearly all of their outstanding orders. He found Fili working on a decorative dagger and paused a moment to marvel at the details he was putting in. Fili noticed him watching and looked up, giving Thorin an opening to speak.

“Good work, Fili,” he said proudly, tapping his nephew on the back.

“Thank you,” Fili replied, a small smile gracing his lips. It was the best Thorin could hope for these days. He missed his nephew’s loud laugher and obnoxious mischief. Fili seemed like a completely different person. Gone was the playful Dwarf, always ready to have fun, and instead here was a shell that only resembled him in appearance.

“I think we should go celebrate,” Thorin announced loudly, snapping from his gloomy thoughts.

Fili looked at him, mildly curious. “Celebrate what?”

“Our success! We have more customers than ever, everyone is pleased with our work and you, my dear nephew,” he said pressing a finger square into Fili’s chest, “you need to let off some steam!”

Thorin tried to sound light-hearted and teasing, but it was so unlike him that all he managed to do was make both of them feel uncomfortable. Fili scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, trying to think of something to say. Thorin sighed and tried again.

“All I mean is that you’ve done nothing but overwork yourself since we got here. It’s alright to rest and take some time to yourself. You can go to the tavern on your own, if you’d prefer not to keep me company.”

Hearing that made Fili feel guilty. He didn’t want Thorin to think he was avoiding him. He just wanted to work until his body couldn’t take it anymore, because it meant that exhaustion would help him sleep at night. Not wanting to insult his uncle, he reluctantly agreed to come.

They closed up the forge soon after and went to a tavern that Thorin had been frequenting on his own over the previous month. It was a nice, cosy place. The whole interior was made up of wood, with shields and swords on the walls instead of paintings. It was a tavern of Men, so everything was unusually tall. This was Fili’s first time in such a place, so he looked around curiously.

Thorin walked straight up to the bar, while Fili lingered back, still taking in the surroundings. Once he realised he stood alone in the doorway, he quickly moved to follow his uncle.  It took a few moments for them to get noticed, so Thorin coughed impatiently, trying to get the waiter’s attention.

As the man turned, he first looked at the empty space above their heads and then noticed Thorin, whose head was just high enough to allow him to see above the bar. When he saw Thorin, the man’s lips split into a crooked smile that missed several teeth and he beamed happily.

“Welcome back, Master Dwarf! What can we do for you today? The usual?”

Thorin nodded and turned to Fili. “I’m having a large pint of ale. Do you want one as well?”

Fili still seemed fascinated by the warm welcome they’d received and it took him a moment to register the question. “Um, yeah,” he agreed.

“Two pints, then,” Thorin told the waiter who nodded and got to work.

They moved to a nearby table and it took a few moments for Fili to climb into his chair. He was shorter than Thorin, but not by that much, he remarked bitterly, as he watched his uncle take a seat gracefully, with seemingly no effort at all.

They fell silent for a few moments, but thankfully the waiter got there, placing the drinks on the table and distracting them. Fili immediately reached for his tankard, taking a long gulp, still looking around.

The tavern was mostly empty, save for them, but it wasn’t surprising since it was still early evening. As the time went on, when Fili was on his third pint of ale, the place became loud and merry, with drunken men singing, dancing and roaring in laughter. The drink helped Fili loosen up a bit too and he grew more talkative than he’d been all month, much to Thorin’s satisfaction. They made fun of other patrons and discussed some of the outrageous orders they’d received over the past month. For a little while, Fili forgot about the pain.

“It’s good to see you smiling again, Fili,” Thorin remarked, leaning closer, so his nephew could hear him in the loud room. He smiled, pleasantly warm and tipsy himself. Wanting to further improve Fili’s mood, he continued, “In a few weeks we’ll go back to Ered Luin. I hope that will have you smiling again as you used to.”

Before he was even done speaking, Fili tensed, his smile dropping, sobering up immediately. He grew silent and Thorin frowned, trying to understand what he’d done wrong.

“I won’t be going,” Fili said at last, fixing Thorin with a determined look.

“What do you me—“ Thorin spluttered, completely bewildered.

“I mean, I’m staying here.” Fili grabbed his tankard and downed the rest of it in one go, scrambling out of his chair and stumbling a little as he stood. “It’s late now and I need to wake up early to finish the order I was working on.”

“Hold up, Fili, you can’t just—“

“Good night, uncle,” Fili said, interrupting him. He left before Thorin could reply.

Thorin sat there thinking for a long while. No one had ever dismissed him like that before, but the anger was completely overtaken by shock and worry. What could have made Fili say that? Why wouldn’t he want to go home?

By the time Thorin got back, Fili was already in his makeshift bed, facing the wall. Whether he was asleep, or pretending to be to avoid a conversation, Thorin didn’t know, but decided to leave him be.

Thorin never suggested going out for drinks again after that night.

 


 

One morning, almost two months after Fili had left, Kili woke up from another dream about his brother. He groaned loudly, rubbing his hands harshly over his face and digging his nails into his scalp. Those dreams were torture. As wonderful as it was to have Fili’s kisses and caresses back, even for a little while, waking up to cold reality was much harder on those days.

Kili slowly dragged himself out of bed, got dressed and headed down, as he would on any other morning. When he was halfway down the stairs, he heard voices coming from the kitchen and he nearly stumbled in his rush to reach the room as quickly as he could. His heart was pounding and his cheeks hurt from the huge grin threatening to split his face. He burst into the kitchen full of wide-eyed excitement—only to stop dead in his tracks and deflate when he saw that Thorin and Dis were alone.

They heard him come in, it was impossible not to, and Thorin stopped speaking upon seeing the expression on Kili’s face. “What is the matter?”

Kili realised that the pain he felt must have shown on his face, but he found he didn’t care.

“Where is Fili?” he asked. In the back of his mind, he knew it was extremely rude not to greet his uncle after not seeing him for so long, but again, all that mattered was Fili.

Thorin didn’t seem offended, however. He just frowned and looked at him sadly. “He did not come.”

When Kili didn’t react, just kept staring at him, he continued by way of explanation, “Fili decided to stay in Emyn Beraid for now.”

“I see,” Kili said softly, after a few more moments of silence. He squared his shoulders and Thorin could have sworn he saw him direct an accusatory look at Dis, but then Kili was looking back at him saying, “It’s good to have you back, uncle.”

Thorin was about to nod and say it was good to be back, but Kili had already turned around. With a rushed, “I have some errands I must get to now,” thrown over his shoulder, he was gone.

Thorin looked at Dis, raising an eyebrow. “What was that about?”

“How should I know,” she snapped defensively, then sighed. “It hasn’t been easy. He’s been very upset that Fili left. And we both expected you to return together.”

“So did I. But, as I was telling you, he didn’t wish to come.”

Dis nodded, frowning. “Did he say why?”

“No,” Thorin said, shaking his head. “In fact, he hardly spoke to me at all, over all this time.”

Dis made a non-committal sound.

“Do you know what is going on?”

“He’s been well, though, I hope? Is he eating and keeping healthy?” she asked instead, ignoring his question.

“Yes, he just works too much,” Thorin replied, none too pleased about the brush off. He was about to repeat his question when Dis rose from the table.

“Good. That is the most important thing. And speaking of work, I must get to mine.” She looked at Thorin as she spoke and it was a clear dismissal if he ever saw one. “You should get some rest and come have supper with us tonight,” she added.

Reasoning that he could always press her for answers that night, Thorin agreed and they left together. He walked Dis to her shop, before heading off home.

 


 

Supper that night was a tense affair. Or, at least, for Kili it was. Thorin seemed to be having fun, drinking ale and eating delicacies Dis had prepared. He told stories of his time away, as he usually would, except that this time, Fili wasn’t at Kili’s side, laughing along at the jokes and stories of Elves and Men. Instead, he was part of Thorin’s stories and every time his name was mentioned felt like a knife twisting deeper and deeper inside Kili’s gut.

Kili gritted his teeth and tried to keep quiet. He tried to tune out Thorin’s voice and concentrate on something, anything else. But, like a moth drawn to a flame, each time he heard his brother’s name, a small electric shock went through him and his ears strained to hear more, despite his will. Mahal, he missed him. Even angry as he was, more than anything, Kili wanted to know what Fili was up to. Even if it meant listening to stories about him living his life happily, miles away from Kili.

Thorin was telling a story about an intricate dagger Fili had made; one with custom designs on the handle that took hours of careful dedication to make. The customer had been so pleased that he’d praised Fili for solid ten minutes, before insisting he call the owner (Thorin), so he could tell him how satisfied he was, too. In the end, he paid them extra and said he would highly recommend their services to anyone that might be in need of them.

There was nothing particularly upsetting about that story, but after hearing Fili’s name for what felt like the millionth time that evening, after listening to yet another story that showed how well Fili was doing on his own, Kili could take no more. He remembered all the lonely nights he’d spent waiting for his brother to come back, sometimes even sprawling on Fili’s bed and clutching his pillow, despite the fact that any lingering scent had long been gone, only to be betrayed and left alone again. So, finally, he snapped.

Kili stood abruptly, slamming his hands on the table and spilling his drink, the glass falling on the floor and breaking, stunning Thorin into silence. Dis and Thorin both looked at him in shock, but Kili just stood there, shaking, his head bowed.

“I can’t take this charade any longer!” he growled.

Dis paled, knowing exactly what he meant, and immediately tried to quiet him.

“Kili, stop this right now!”

Thorin looked between them in confusion, which changed to complete bewilderment when Kili lifted his head and Thorin realised he was crying.

Kili’s face was contorted by rage, angry tears rolling down his cheeks.

“You took him away, this is all your fault!” he yelled at Thorin. “You all conspired against me! What lies did you tell him to make him leave?” he turned on his mother.

“Kili—“ Dis tried to interrupt him again, but it didn’t work.

“No! I know he wouldn’t leave on his own! What we had—“ he choked, more tears trailing down his cheeks. He took several loud breaths, trying to regain his composure.

Thorin looked at him, taking in the tears, the quaver and pain in his voice, the betrayal he could see in his eyes, and finally, the true meaning of Kili’s words started to sink in. Thorin’s eyes went impossibly wide, as the last two months finally started to make sense. But Kili was speaking again.

“What we have can’t be taken away so easily! You can send him away, try to brainwash him, but it will never go away!”

Kili glared at them both, obviously holding them equally responsible. When neither of them found words to respond, he let out a snarl and left the room, not bothering to clean up the mess he’d made.

After he’d gone, Thorin turned to Dis, who was studiously ignoring him. She was pushing the food around her plate, but it was obvious her hand was shaking.

“How long have you known?” he asked.

“Known what?” she asks, still looking at the food instead of him.

“Let’s not do this anymore. I think you owe me some answers.”

Dis sighed, dropping all pretence. She put her head in her hands, slumping on the table. “Mahal help them.”

“So... how long?” he asked again.

“A couple of months.”

“How could you hide such a thing from me?” He tried not to sound accusing, but failed.

“It was of no consequence—“ she said dismissively, but he wouldn’t even let her finish.

No consequence? You are aware of the ramifications of this, are you not?” he asked, disbelieving.

“They’re just children, Thorin. They will grow out of it.”

“How can you be so certain?” he wondered, looking at the shattered glass and the stairs Kili had taken to his room. It didn’t seem like it at all.

“I have to be. It’s what keeps me going,” she said tightly. She seemed frayed around the edges, completely torn and he decided not to press her.

They lapsed into silence for a while, until she said, “So, Fili told you nothing.”

Thorin shook his head. “He barely spoke to me. He’s like an empty shell, working day in and day out. And now I understand why.”

They fell silent again.

“Is that why you sent him away?” Thorin asked.

“Yes, I thought the distance would do them both good,” she said, sounding uncertain.

Wordlessly, they both focused on Kili’s broken glass on the floor, his words replaying in their minds. Thorin then reached across the table and covered Dis’ hand with his.

“It was the right decision,” he said solemnly and she gave him a small, tight smile.

 


 

Kili managed to avoid Thorin and Dis for a whole week after the incident. Once again, he started keeping to himself and spending days outside the house. He would go for long walks in the forest, or around the outskirts of the city, or simply stay holed up in his room, passing the time.

Dis and Thorin gave Kili some time, unsure of what they would say even if he’d wanted to talk, so they let it go on. But, finally, enough was enough. One evening, when they knew Kili was home, Thorin went up to his room. He knocked and walked in, without waiting for response.

Kili was sitting on his bed with his knees pulled up to his chest. He was balancing a small journal on his knees and it was obvious he’d been writing. When he saw Thorin, he hurriedly closed it, collecting a few crumpled papers that lay on the bed, and put it all away.

“May I come in?” Thorin asked and Kili gestured inside.

He closed the door behind him, moving across the room and sitting on the edge of Kili’s bed, facing him. Kili had wrapped his arms around his knees, still pressing his legs to his chest and looked at Thorin defensively.

“We are not trying to hurt you, Kili, I hope you understand that,” Thorin told him.

“Could have fooled me,” Kili grumbled in response.

Thorin bit his tongue to stop himself from snarling at him. The amount of insolence he’d received from his nephews in the past couple of months was really starting to grate on him. If it were anyone else, they’d be severely punished for such behaviour. And yet...

Thorin took a deep breath, restraining his temper. And yet, these were his nephews who were in serious need of guidance, love and understanding. Now, more than ever. So he put such things aside.

“We are only doing what we think is best for you.”

Kili opened his mouth to protest again, but Thorin held up his hand and he kept quiet, frowning and looking away, but at least willing to listen.

“You are both so young and such a thing... it bears a stigma for the rest of your life. It could ruin you both. Think of all the repercussions!” Thorin urged him. “Being who we are, I could protect you, but there is only so much I can do.”

As he said that, Kili finally looked at him and he seemed genuinely shocked that Thorin would even consider doing such a thing. It made Thorin’s blood boil again. Stupid, unreasonable children! Didn’t they realise this was all about them not getting hurt? Of course he and Dis would do anything to protect them!  But that was not the point. There were far more important things Kili needed to remember.

“There is no going back from this, Kili. You must know that,” he said gravely. “And your mother, she worries you are not ready to make such a decision.”

“I kno—“ Kili bristled, but Thorin continued over him in a louder voice.

“And for good reason, it seems. The way you’ve been behaving since I came back doesn’t seem very mature.”

Thorin looked at him, darling him to argue, but for once Kili was quiet and thoughtful.

“You are right,” he admitted at length, “I apologise for my behaviour.”

Thorin shook his head. “That’s alright,” he said, pleased they were getting somewhere.

“But it doesn’t change anything, you know?” Kili continued in a small voice. He braced himself and looked at his uncle before he continued. “I know what I feel. I love Fili.”

He said it sadly, almost solemnly, but his voice didn’t waver. Inside, Kili was trembling with emotions. Despite the fact that Thorin had already known, it still felt so terrifying and strangely invigorating to say those words aloud. He’d said them once before, to Dis, but that was in the middle of an argument and they just slipped out unbidden. Now, he actually had time to consider what he was about to say and it felt empowering and liberating to be able to say it and own it.

Thorin, to his credit, didn’t say anything. He was having an inner war of his own. Part of him wanted to yell at his nephew and order him to stop such nonsense, another part of him wanted to storm out of the room in disgust and a part of him wanted to pull Kili into a hug and tell him everything would be alright. Unable to decide, he did nothing.

“Nothing will change how I feel,” Kili added after a short silence and that, at least, Thorin could respond to.

“I’ve no doubt you feel that way. When you’re young and in love, it feels like it will last forever,” he said with a small smile and Kili immediately started to protest.

“That’s not what this is, how can you even say that?” he argued, offended.

“If you truly believe that, why not give it some time? If this is worth sacrificing everything over, surely it is also worth waiting for?” Thorin suggested, reasonably.

Kili opened his mouth to respond, but then just closed it. Thorin’s words did make sense. But Kili had always hated waiting more than anything, and before he’d always had his brother by his side to keep him entertained. Waiting alone for Fili seemed impossibly difficult.

He grew quiet and mulled it over in his head. It was the adult thing to do. Maybe, if he proved to Dis and Thorin that he was serious about this, they too would accept it.

“I only wish he didn’t have to be so far away. Everything is different without him,” Kili admitted sadly, with a little self deprecating laugh.

“I know. And that is why it’s important to learn to be strong on your own.”

Thorin drew his nephew into a hug and Kili scrambled to move his legs out of the way, returning the hug properly. Thorin petted his hair, remembering all the times he’d done this when Kili was little.

When he pulled back, Kili’s eyes were bright and sad. He laughed to himself again, sounding hollow, but trying to lighten the mood. Thorin hated seeing him hurt like this, it broke his heart. Thinking he probably shouldn’t do this, as it could undermine what he and Dis were doing, Thorin made a decision and ploughed on.

“If I wrote to you, when I could, would it make things more bearable?” he asked and Kili looked confused.

“I exchange messages with Balin, every few weeks, as often as we can find a messenger. He has to keep me updated on the current state of affairs. I could send letters to you too, and keep you updated on how Fili is doing,” Thorin explained.

Kili looked at him suspiciously, not seeing why he would want to do it. To be honest, Thorin couldn’t explain it himself. He’d always had a soft spot for his youngest nephew, however, and the truth was that he would do anything to stop Kili hurting as he was.

After a few moments, Kili’s look turned thoughtful and then sad.

“I’m not sure I want to know. He seems to be getting on just fine without me.”

“Why would you say that?” Thorin asked, taken aback.

“Well, the stories you told. He’s doing really well. Getting fame and fortune and all that. He didn’t even want to come back,” Kili said sadly.

Thorin looked him, surprised that he’d made it sound like that. He deliberately avoided saying anything bad, trying to keep the mood light and provide good evening entertainment, but in the end, all he did was give Kili the wrong impression.

He gripped Kili’s shoulder and forced him to look at him. “You couldn’t be more wrong. Fili is...” he paused, “He’s not doing well. You wouldn’t recognise him if you saw him now.”

Kili’s eyes widened in alarm. “Is he sick?” he asked, worried.

“No, nothing like that. He’s just very quiet and sad. And for all this time, I had no idea why.”

“Oh,” was all Kili could say. He’d made himself sad thinking Fili was happy without him, since it meant that he didn’t care, but knowing Fili was suffering made Kili feel even worse.

They grew silent again, each lost in his own thoughts until Kili said, “I’d like it if you could write to me.”

Thorin nodded. “I can’t say how often it will be. These messengers can be quite hard to find.”

Thorin gave a small smile and before he realised what was happening, he found himself with his arms full of Kili who hugged him tightly, so tightly it almost hurt.

“Thank you,” Kili whispered, his voice choked with emotion.

Thorin hugged him back, rubbing his arms in soothing circles across Kili’s back. He prayed to Mahal he was doing the right thing.

Chapter Text

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and little by little, ten months passed since Fili had left. Thorin came back every month, always alone. The first couple of times were excruciatingly hard on Kili, but he slowly learned to accept it; he started to organise his time and life moved on.

True to his word, Thorin sent him letters whenever he could. As it turned out, it was once or twice a month, if Kili was lucky. They were short and down to the point, much like Thorin himself. They never said much, but Kili appreciated them all the same. He knew his uncle was trying and that fact alone meant a lot to him.

Kili always wrote back and informed Thorin about the situation at home, about him and Dis and, more often than not, he couldn’t resist adding a few lines about how much he missed his brother. It felt good to share his feelings with another person, even on paper, and even if Thorin never addressed those words in his replies. With each letter, Kili kept hoping for one that would tell him Fili had finally decided to return, but no such letter came.

In the meantime, Kili started helping Dis in her shop. Sometimes, he went on hunts and helped her clean the furs, but usually he worked at the counter and welcomed the customers while she prepared the merchandise. They didn’t have much work, but it was enough to live comfortably.

Working with Dis brought her and Kili closer and their relationship started to mend. Kili still hadn’t fully forgiven her, but he knew that she wasn’t to blame for the fact that his brother hadn’t come home yet. It was entirely Fili’s decision. And despite everything, Dis was his mother.

One day, while Kili was working, a young Dwarf came into the shop. He was close to Kili in age, perhaps a little younger. He came looking for yarn, but as soon as he’d walked in, it was clear to both of them that he’d come to the wrong place. Laughing it off, they started talking. He was a curious looking Dwarf, shy and clumsy, very unlike most of their race. Kili soon found out his name was Ori and that he lived nearby. One topic led to another, and without even realising it, they kept on talking for hours. Not long after, the two became good friends.

Slowly, as the months crawled by, Kili started to find new things in his life that mattered and distracted him from missing his brother every moment of every day. He went hunting, worked in the shop, went drinking with Ori and, occasionally, spent mornings having tea with his mother.

 


 

Kili was in his room, fletching his arrows, when he heard his mother’s voice from downstairs.

“Kili,” she called out. “You’ve got a letter!”

He dropped everything and rushed down. Dis was waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs, holding out a sealed piece of parchment. He grabbed it excitedly, tearing it open straight away. It had been two weeks since he’d heard from Thorin and he was really looking forward to receiving some news.

His eyes scanned the letter eagerly. Dis watched him as he read, noticing his face drop slightly.

“Bad news?” she asked.

“Hm? Oh, no,” he replied distractedly. “No news.”

He folded the letter and put it in his pocket, starting to move back up the stairs. Dis grabbed hold of his arm, stopping him.

“Come sit with me. We haven’t spent time together in a while.”

Kili considered it for a few moments, but since he didn’t really want to be alone, he agreed. He went into the kitchen and made tea, taking it to the living room, where Dis sat waiting for him. As he placed a steaming mug in front of her, she reached for it and took a sip.

“With milk and no sugar, just how I like it,” she hummed approvingly.

He sat across from her and cradled his own mug, blowing at it to help cool the tea. He never understood how Dis could just drink it straight away without scalding her tongue.

“I have enough pelts for a couple more days,” she said, bringing Kili back from his thoughts, “but I’ll need more to finish a coat that was commissioned yesterday.”

 “Alright. I’ll go hunting tomorrow.”

She nodded. “Thank you.” After a short pause, she asked again, “What did the letter say?”

At first, Dis was strongly against Kili and Thorin exchanging letters and argued with her brother about it. Kili didn’t know exactly what was said, but he could hear raised voices echoing long into the night. In the end, she relented.

“Why do you ask?” he wondered. “Normally, you don’t care what he writes.”

“You seemed upset when you read the letter, is something wrong?”

He frowned a little, looking away. “No more than usual.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I keep hoping for news of Fili’s return, but there aren’t any. It’s always the same things. Fili is working, he is sad, he doesn’t go out...” Kili sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Maybe it was a bad idea to ask Thorin to send me these letters in the first place. There is nothing I can do and I just worry about him. If he’s sad, he should just come home!”

It was a subject they avoided, because Dis was the one who caused it in the first place and she still didn’t know how she felt about Fili coming home. She missed her son, of course, but she feared what would happen once he returned. When he’d left, Kili was in a terrible place. It was so bad that she considered writing to Thorin and asking Fili to return immediately. But, as months went by, Kili was doing a lot better. There were days when she believed he was finally over it. He’d even made a new friend and Dis hoped that it could turn into something more, if it hadn’t already.

“Fili will return in time. You must be patient,” she said comfortingly.

Kili made a sound of indignation. “Do you even want him to return?”

She paused a moment too long and he took that as answer enough.

“As I thought,” he added, bitterly.

“It’s not as simple as that!” she snapped. “I do want your brother to come back to us. I just fear what it will mean. You are doing so well—“

“Is that what you think? Truly?” Kili asked, incredulous. “I haven’t been well since the day he left.”

She looked at him sadly and continued in a quieter voice. “But lately you seem a lot better. You’ve even been seeing that young boy—“

Seeing?”

“Well, I don’t know what you want to call it, but you’ve been spending a lot of time together and I thought—“

“You thought what? That I was cured?” he asked angrily before taking a long breath and trying to calm down.

They hadn’t argued in a long time. There was a reason they never talked about Fili; conversations like this always ended in screaming. But if the lack of talking had made Dis come to such outrageous conclusions, it was time for Kili to open up.

“I don’t know what you thought,” he started again, calmly this time, “but I told you before. My feelings for Fili will not go away. He is my One.” As he said it, he could see her frown deepen. “Ori is just a friend.”

She glared at her mug, following the steam rising from it, letting the silence surround them.

“So what do you think will happen when he returns?” she asked at last, lifting her eyes to look at him.

“I don’t know,” he replied softly. “I just want him to come back.”

 


 

Two days later, Kili was returning from a hunt, lugging a deer he’d caught on his back. It was a night hunt and the sun was just beginning to rise as he approached Ered Luin. He was tired and exhausted and the heavy load on his back didn’t help any. He couldn’t wait to come home.

By the time he reached the house, the day was already bright and hot. He wouldn’t even be able to sleep in this weather, he thought bitterly. When he opened the door, he heard Thorin’s voice coming from the kitchen. Definitely no sleep, he sighed to himself, and headed to greet him.

“Hello, unc—“ he said, stepping into the kitchen, but the words died in his throat.

There, at the table, sitting next to Thorin, was Fili. He was eating porridge, his head bowed, looking into his bowl. When he heard Kili’s voice, he lifted his head and looked at him.

Kili couldn’t breathe.

His mouth opened and closed a couple of times. He may have dropped the deer he was holding, he wasn’t sure, but the weight was suddenly gone.

“Fee...” he said softly.

He took a step forward, a loud, incredulous laugh escaping his lips. “Mahal, Fili, you’re back!”

He strode towards his brother, still full of disbelieving joy.

But Fili didn’t move. He didn’t even stand to greet him. He kept looking at Kili, still holding a spoon in one hand, his face impassive.

Seeing him like that made Kili stop dead in his tracks, confusion and hurt replacing his excitement. He turned to look at Dis and Thorin, trying to gauge if it was their fault that Fili acted the way he did, but they seemed equally shocked.

“Hello, brother,” Fili said, inclining his head. He looked away and kept eating, concentrating on his food.

Kili stood where he was, frozen with shock. He was three paces from the table, with Fili right in front of him. It was the closest they’d been in months, and yet it was the farthest Kili had ever felt from him. Every fibre of Kili’s being longed to close that distance and pull his brother into a hug. He would have kissed him right there, Dis and Thorin be damned.

But Fili wasn’t even looking at him.

Kili could feel the tears coming; he could feel his legs threatening to give out.

“I—“ he started, cleared his throat and continued, “I need to take this to the shop. I’m taking the keys,” he said in a strained voice.

He turned on his heel and quickly collected the deer that was lying on the kitchen floor. It left a mess when he picked it up, but he couldn’t be bothered to clean it up. He just needed to get out and fast. Within moments, he was gone.

Kili all but ran to the shop, thankful it was as close to their house as it was. He fiddled with the keys, making it inside and locking the door behind him. The sign said “closed”, but the last thing he needed right now was to be forced to deal with some unwitting customer.

He threw the deer on the worktable and gripped the edge for support. He hung his head, breaths coming out in loud pants. How could this be happening?

He dug his fingers in his hair and pulled painfully hard. Letting out a growl of frustration, he slumped against the table. Stupid, stupid, stupid! He cursed himself. What did you think would happen? Thorin had warned him how Fili had changed, but Kili chose to believe that, once he returned, everything would go back to normal and he would have the old Fili back. He should have known better.

Kili’s chest felt tight. He gasped, trying to regain his breath, but it came out as a sob. He realised his cheeks were wet. He wiped his arm across his face angrily, mad at himself for caring, and yet unable to stop. He kicked the table in frustration, before turning and sliding down to the floor, resting his back against a table-leg. He curled into himself, pressing the balls of his hands into his eyes and trying to calm down.

 


 

The sun was already starting to set by the time Kili got home that evening. He’d spent the day at Dis’ shop, trying to get his emotions under control and cleaning the deer he’d brought back. It needed to be done and it proved to be a good distraction, so he welcomed it.

He had to go home eventually, however, so he put on a brave face and tried to steel his heart, while slowly making his way to their house. When he walked in, he heard Dis talking to Fili.

“—at the end of the corridor. While you were away, I cleaned out the old storage room and moved your bed there. It will be your new room,” she was saying.

“Alright,” Fili said. He didn’t seem pleased, or upset. As with everything else, he didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

Kili had known about this, of course. He’d even agreed to it. Dis had done it six months ago, because she wanted to make sure things would be different when Fili returned, and Kili agreed because being in the same room with Fili’s things proved to be too painful. Everything reminded him of his brother and he gratefully accepted the offer to move those things elsewhere, even if it was just next door.

He wasn’t so sure about it anymore. He wished they’d been forced to share the room like they used to, since it would give them time alone. It would give them a chance to talk without anyone else listening in. And even if this was all Fili’s decision, at least it would give Kili the opportunity to confront him about it.

As it was, there was no reason for them to speak.

Kili closed the front door loudly enough to make sure the other two could hear it, announcing his arrival, and headed straight for the stairs. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

Once in his room, he lay atop his bed, still fully clothed. All he did was toe off his boots, before flopping down on his back, staring up at the ceiling. There was still grass, mud and even dried blood sticking to his clothes, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He was tired and exhausted, but sleep would not come to him.

Some time later, there were footsteps on the stairs, making Kili tense and watch the door closely. His heartbeat rang in his ears as the footsteps neared. He lifted himself up on his elbows, hoping the door would open.

It didn’t.

The door next to his opened and closed, crushing his hopes, and he flopped back down on the bed. He turned on his side, curling into a ball, biting his knuckles in frustration. Maybe Fili was waiting for Dis to fall asleep. Maybe he would seek him out later that night.

Kili tossed and turned for hours. The streets grew darker and quieter, as did the house. Several hours later, he heard Dis’ door. That’s it, he thought. It’s now or never.

He waited. And waited. As he lay awake, waiting for the door to open, he was shocked to see dawn break. Fili hadn’t come.

Disheartened and confused, Kili abandoned the idea of sleep altogether. He headed to the bathroom to relieve himself and take a quick bath, washing off the grime from the day before. Wearing a clean set of clothes and slightly more awake than before, he headed down for breakfast.

It was still early in the morning, and the house was completely still. Moving quietly, so as not to wake anyone, he went into the kitchen. To his surprise, Fili was already there.

Fili’s eyes widened in shock as he saw him and Kili could swear he saw a tormented, almost wild look in them. He felt a tingle go up his spine and his limbs went numb. They were alone. He’d waited all night for this, and then it happened so unexpectedly. But, before he could say anything, Fili was looking away, his face impassive once more.

“Good morning,” Fili said.

Kili looked at him, incredulous. “Don’t you have anything else to say to me?”

His brother continued like he hadn’t heard him.

“I was just finishing breakfast. You can have my seat.”

The plate in front of him was still full, betraying his lie. Nevertheless, he stood abruptly, moving around Kili and heading out of the room.

“Wait a minute, you can’t just—“ Kili called out after him, turning to follow, but the front door slammed and left him in silence.

He reached for the nearest chair, pulled it out and sat heavily. Tonight, he decided, it was time to get spectacularly drunk.

 


 

As soon as he left the house, Fili broke off into a run. He couldn’t do this. He thought he was strong enough, but Mahal, he could not do this!

He went down to breakfast so early, hoping to avoid his brother, but all he’d managed to do was get him alone. And after a sleepless night, it was much more difficult to keep his wits about him.

After ten months of trying to suppress and extinguish every emotion he had, he thought he’d finally managed it. It had been so long since he’d felt anything at all. On most days, there was nothing but work and sleep, and the routine kept him in check. Only this time, there was no work here and there was Kili.

Fili cursed under his breath, still running, with no aim or purpose. He just wanted to get away. Before he knew it, his feet had carried him to the outskirts of the city, towards the forest. He slowed down, slightly breathless, and decided to go into the woods.

He remembered the last time he and Kili were there. What a carefree and happy time that was. He could feel his chest constricting. Coming back here was a bad idea. He never should have agreed to it. He thought he was ready, and when Thorin suggested it for what felt like the hundredth time, he finally relented. And now he had no idea what to do.

Fili wondered how long it would be before Thorin left Ered Luin again, or if he could go to Emyn Baraid on his own. The problem was that, in Thorin’s absence, the forge would have found another Dwarf, or even a Man, to take his place. The only reason he’d kept the job in Emyn Baraid for as long as he had was because Fili was there, working for him.

So, in truth, Fili had nowhere to run now.

He came to a row of trees overlooking a clearing. He sat down, resting his back against the nearest tree, looking at the clear sky above his head. It was a warm, sunny day, and he could smell fresh grass in the air. His eyes stung. He told himself the day was too bright, and his eyes too tired, so he closed them. His fingers curled in the grass he sat on, memories washing over him.

 


 

Kili walked unsteadily, making his way home from the tavern that night. He’d spent several hours drinking and downed a truly impressive amount of ale. He was, without a doubt, completely and utterly drunk. He wobbled as he walked, unable to keep a straight line. Every couple of steps, he’d stumble and break into a fit of giggles.

“Your house is that way!” Ori exclaimed, following him and trying to steady him.

“Is not!” Kili argued, affronted. “I should know where my own house is!”

Ori laughed and shook his head.

“Maybe in the morning, you will. But for now, just trust me. It’s in the other direction.”  

“Fine! We’ll go your way, and when you see I’m right, we’ll just come back.”

“Yes, yes, alright.” Ori rolled his eyes and beckoned him to hurry up.

As Kili turned and headed Ori’s way, he lost his footing again, stumbling heavily and starting to fall. Ori, who was only slightly tipsy and still mostly in control of his movements, ran up to catch him. Clumsy like was, even on a good day, it was pure luck that Kili didn’t end up face first on the ground.

Ori wrapped an arm around Kili’s waist, pulling him up. “Can you stand?” he asked.

Kili nodded and exclaimed, “Of course!” but a few steps later, he stumbled again, so Ori just kept an arm around him, steadying him and guiding him as he walked. Feeling tired and drunk, Kili rested his weight against Ori, leaning on him. He closed his eyes for a few moments, willing the world to stop turning.

“You awake?” Ori asked, amused. “I hope you won’t expect me to carry you, ‘cause we’d probably end up dead in a ditch somewhere.”

Kili started at the sound of Ori’s voice, his head snapping up, making everything spin even more. He frowned and said nothing.

“Are you alright?” Ori asked, worried now. “Are you going to be sick?”

He stopped walking and moved in front of Kili, looking at him in concern.

“You are so nice,” Kili said sadly, so softly Ori barely heard him.

“Huh?”

“Why can’t he be so nice to me?” Kili wondered as a tear trickled down his cheek.

Ori was truly alarmed now. “What are you talking about? Mahal, Kili, are you crying?”

Ori looked around, as if hoping someone would show up and tell him what to do. He wasn’t good at such things, not at all! He never knew the right thing to say, and especially at a time like this, when he truly had no idea what was going on.

“Come on, Kili don’t cry,” he said comfortingly, a tight smile on his face. “I’m sure it can’t be that bad, whatever it is.”

He patted Kili on the shoulder, but his words only seemed to make matters worse. Kili closed his eyes as more tears came. Not knowing what else to do, Ori pulled his friend into a hug and held him, waiting for him to calm down.

As he held him, Ori thought back on the night’s events, trying to remember anything that could explain Kili’s behaviour. When he’d suggested going to the tavern, Kili did seem sad, but he’d convinced Ori he was fine. Soon enough, he was laughing and his infectious smile stopped Ori from worrying.

Before Ori could come to any sort of a conclusion, he was ripped from Kili rather violently, and thrown to the ground several feet away. He landed with a loud grunt, followed by a moan of pain.

“What are you doing to him?!” a voice roared at him.

Ori tried to stand, wincing in pain, anger starting to replace shock.

“What am I doing? What are you doing?!  Who do you think you are!” he yelled back.

The blonde Dwarf that had attacked him ignored his question. He held Kili now, looking him over with care, running his fingers over his hair and damp cheeks.

 “What have you done to him?” he demanded, sounding murderous. “Are you alright?” he continued in a much gentler voice, looking at Kili.

“Fili...?” Kili wondered dazedly.

Then, Kili’s eyes refocused, growing angry, and he pushed Fili away as hard as he could. Unsteady as he was, it made him fall to the ground, while his brother only stumbled backwards a few steps.

Ori had stood up by then and when he saw Kili go down, he immediately ran to help him, making Fili lunge for him again.

“Stop!” Kili yelled, before anything else could happen.

Both Dwarves stopped and looked at him. Ori hadn’t even noticed that he was about to be struck again and when he turned and saw Fili’s aggressive stance, he started, jumping out of the way. He was never one for brawling. If Dori found out about this, he’d never hear the end of it.

Kili moved to stand and Ori offered him a hand, helping him up. Fili was eyeing them strangely, but at least he stopped attacking for now.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ori,” Kili said.

“I’m not going to leave you here alone!” Ori exclaimed, appalled by the very idea.

“It’s fine. I’ll be fine. Just go,” Kili insisted.

Ori looked between Kili and Fili, not knowing what to do.

“Seriously, Ori, I know him. Nothing bad will happen, trust me,” Kili assured him.

Finally, with another long look at the strange Dwarf that had attacked them out of nowhere, Ori nodded and left.

As soon as he was gone, Fili went up to Kili, checking him over once more.

“Stop it!” Kili pushed him away. “I’m fine.”

“You were crying,” Fili insisted. “I thought he was attacking you.”

“Well, he wasn’t!”

Fili frowned deeper, eyes moving in the direction Ori had taken. He didn’t seem any less murderous.

“Who was he?” he demanded.

“A friend.”

“You seemed awfully friendly,” he said, bitterly.

“What?” Kili asked, rounding on Fili, staggering slightly as he moved. “What? “ he repeated in an even higher pitch, disbelieving. “Are you fucking jealous?!”

Fili set his jaw and said nothing.

“Oh... Oh, that’s just rich! Just piss off, will you!” Kili spat and moved past him, pushing Fili out of the way.

They weren’t far from their house anymore, and Kili knew which way to go. His legs wouldn’t obey him, however. After several steps, he stumbled, but regained his balance. He kept walking angrily, determined to keep his dignity. He managed to make it halfway down the street before he tripped again and fell on the ground.

Fili was at his side in seconds, leaning down to help him. He tried to take him by his waist and haul him up, but before he could do anything, Kili lashed out and kicked him in the stomach. With a grunt of surprise and pain, Fili stumbled and fell backwards.

“Get away from me,” Kili demanded.

Instead of standing up, Fili just crawled closer to Kili, sitting beside him.

“I’m serious Fili, just leave me alone,” Kili whispered.

Fili continued to sit there, not saying a word. He didn’t try to touch Kili, or reach for him. He simply sat there, trying to comfort him with his presence.

“Why...?” Kili asked. It was barely a whisper. Even he didn’t know what he was asking exactly. Why did you leave me? Why did you come back? Why are you hurting me like this?

They looked at each other and this time Kili could plainly see the pain and inner turmoil inside Fili’s eyes, just as sure as Fili could see hurt and desperation in his. Fili let out a little whimper and pulled Kili into a hug.

Kili struggled, trying to break free, pushing at Fili’s chest and hitting at his sides, but Fili just held on tighter. After a few moments, Kili stopped resisting and slumped against him bonelessly. He rested his head against Fili’s shoulder, breathing in the familiar scent.

“I hate you,” Kili mumbled brokenly.

Hearing those words crushed him, but Fili knew he deserved no better. It was his fault, all of it. Including the scene he’d witnessed earlier. He’d wanted to give Kili a chance to find someone else; he couldn’t blame him now for taking it. Fili took a shaky breath, pulling his brother even closer.

After he had calmed down, Kili allowed Fili to guide him home, without saying word. They made the trip in tense silence, each troubled by his own thoughts.

Chapter Text

After the incident in the street, Kili didn’t try to get drunk again. Aside from that, little had changed. His relationship with Fili was still strained, perhaps more so than ever. Dis watched them closely, seeing the distance between them grow each day. Even when she made them dine together, they refused to talk, too eager to leave the other’s company.

And yet, things weren’t as simple as that. Dis often caught them casting sad, longing glances at one another. They never realised it, but she saw. It was plain to see how heartbroken they both were. Instead of doing something about it, however, they chose to avoid each other. Gloomy and alone, they surrounded the house in a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere.

Fili spent a lot of time in the forest, going on hunts, bringing home game and furs. It was far more than Dis needed, but she never complained. She understood his need for a distraction, and he had no work in Ered Luin. He had hoped to work with his uncle again, in Thorin’s own forge, but in a town of Dwarves, there were many skilled craftsmen, and most of them chose to make their own metalwork.

Kili still worked in Dis’ shop. He was angry that his excuse to occasionally escape to the woods was taken from him, but he didn’t argue. It would involve having to actually talk to his brother, so he chose to let it slide. He settled for working extra long hours in the shop and frequenting the tavern. At least he had a friend to occupy his mind, which is not something Fili could say.

They both had friends, or at least people they liked to spend time with, but none of them were particularly close. Since they used to spend most of their time together, they were each other’s closest friends. There was never much time for anyone else. After Fili had left, for the first time in his life, Kili had made a friend to call his own. Seeing it now, Fili didn’t like it one bit.

Every time Ori visited, or if Kili stayed out late drinking with him, Dis saw the pain in Fili’s eyes. It was clear what he was thinking. She wished to correct him, to tell him what Kili had told her, but she always stopped herself, saying this was for the best. Despite her fears of her sons getting back together as soon as Fili had returned, it hadn’t happened. Her plan had worked. She knew she should be pleased about that.

One such evening, when Kili was out, Dis was in the living room, trying to read, but she could not concentrate. Her eyes kept straying to Fili. He sat in a chair by the window, a book open in his lap, but instead of reading, he gazed outside. Looking closer, Dis recognised the book. It was his journal.

He held a quill against the paper, yet his hand wasn’t moving. His eyes scanned the dark streets, as if looking for something. Or someone. He looked truly miserable. She opened her mouth to speak, but decided against it.

Dis tried to go back to her book, but her mind kept worrying if she was doing the right thing. She thought back on how they used to be, before everything. Her two boys glued to the hip, always smiling, happy and carefree. She wished those times would return, back when everything was innocent and as it should be. But she knew that they could not.

Then she thought of the time that followed, when things had changed and she saw them growing closer and closer together, blurring the lines of propriety and brotherhood. She remembered the growing dread and fear she’d felt, but she also remembered how happy they had seemed. They looked happier than ever, comfortable in their own skins and filled with love, brimming with life and joy. A stark difference to the dead look in Fili’s eyes she saw now, she realised, with a growing sense of guilt.

 


 

Dis visited Thorin’s forge early the following afternoon, surprised to find it closed and the door bolted shut. Going around the house, to the door that led to her brother’s private rooms, she knocked. After several minutes and repeated knocks, he opened the door. His hair was dishevelled and clothes wrinkled. He seemed surprised to see her.

“Dis! What are you doing here?” he asked, unconsciously straightening his tunic.

She looked him over suspiciously and he tried not to fidget. She may be the younger one, but she was still the only person in the world who could make Thorin Oakenshield feel self-conscious.

“Did I wake you?” she asked, eyes narrowing.

He cleared his throat. “And what if you have?”

“Durin’s beard, Thorin! It’s afternoon!”

He cursed and grumbled under his breath. “Are you coming in, or would you prefer to stand at the door and lecture me for the rest of the day?”

She rolled her eyes and moved inside as Thorin stepped aside to let her pass. He led the way to the living room and she followed.

“It’s not like I have anything better to do. There is no work here, you know that.”

“Yes, I know,” she admitted. “Forgive me. I am stressed and I shouldn’t be taking it out on you.”

“What is it?” he asked, suddenly serious and wide awake.

“It’s the boys,” she sighed.

He frowned, taking a seat at the small table in his living room, pointing to the chair next to him and inviting Dis to do the same.

“Did they do something again?”

She shook her head, sitting down. Thorin immediately covered her hand with his own, providing what comfort he could.

“They are miserable, Thorin. I managed to drive them apart, but they are miserable now and I don’t know what to do!”

When she met his eyes, he saw how deeply troubled she was. The guilt was eating at her.

“All I wanted was to keep them safe, to protect them from the world and pain that would await them. But in the end, I was the one who harmed them the most,” she said.

“You only did what you thought was best. You couldn’t have known,” he said reassuringly.

“I am their mother. I should have known. I should have seen it happening long before they did, and I should have known that there was no way to stop it.”

“What are you saying?”

“I can’t allow them to be unhappy for the rest of their lives. I did this, so I must fix this.”

As she said it, her stomach clenched. She couldn’t believe she was even considering this, much less saying it out loud. Thorin looked at her strangely, unsure of what to say.

“Are you certain this is what you want?”

She laughed hollowly. “No.” She looked away, growing quiet for a few moments. “But what else can I do? I cannot force them to live like this.”

“What do you intend to do?”

 


 

Kili dragged his feet, slowly making his way home from the shop. He was in a terrible mood. Dis had asked him to come home early, since she was planning a family dinner. The mere thought made Kili’s stomach turn. He didn’t feel like spending the night in company, especially that of his brother. These days, just being around Fili set him on edge. He couldn’t understand why Dis insisted on playing happy family, when it was obvious things could never be alright between them again.

After that night, as Kili had come to call it, the two of them had hardly spoken. He’d expected Fili to apologise, or at least try to and justify his actions, but he showed no intention of doing so. He couldn’t understand Fili’s behaviour at all. He’d been so distant, even cruel, but that night, he’d acted out of jealousy. No matter how much Kili thought about it, he could find no other explanation, and the selfishness of that angered Kili beyond words.

He kicked a rock distractedly as he walked. He considered not going home, choosing to run off into the woods, or even pop for a surprise visit with Thorin instead, but in the end, he decided against it. He was already fighting with Fili, the last thing he needed was to make Dis upset with him as well. After endless months of loud arguments and tense silences, he didn’t want to risk the fragile truce they had.

He quenched the unhappiness he felt and let his feet guide him home.

When he got back, he was surprised to find the kitchen empty. Usually, Fili would return first and set the table by the time he arrived. There was no food on the table today. He looked in the living room, and even knocked on Dis’ door, but there was no answer.

Confused, Kili decided to go to his room. He wasn’t very hungry anyway, so he didn’t mind.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he saw light coming from beneath Fili’s door, proving that he, at least, was home.  He wondered if his brother knew why their mother’s plan had changed, but refused to go and ask him. Instead, he just went to his room and closed the door.

Part of him was relieved that he wouldn’t have to pretend to be civil to Fili for the next couple of hours. Instead, he could enjoy a quiet night, reading and relaxing on his own.

Since the sun had already started to set, Kili found a candle and lit it. He put it on the bedside table and flopped down on the bed. He landed on something hard and pointy and immediately wiggled uncomfortably. When he pulled the offending object from beneath him, he realised it was a book. His heart beat faster. He’d recognise that particular book anywhere. It was Fili’s diary.

He took it in his hand, turning it over, tracing the intricate gold embroidery on the covers. He turned around, as if expecting Fili to jump out from behind him with an explanation, but he was alone. He frowned, not understanding why Fili would give him this.

Kili weighed the book in his hands and, in his anger, considered storming into Fili’s room and demanding answers. He even considered throwing it away without looking at it... But his heart would not allow it.

With a heavy sigh, he removed his boots and made himself comfortable on the bed, his back resting against the headboard. He opened the journal, flipped to the last page and started reading.

 

Âfvalasirkha 15, TA 2904

You are out again. I wonder where you are... You are probably with him again tonight. I can always tell from Mother’s pitying looks. She probably thinks she’s being subtle, but I see her looking at me, as if expecting me to harm myself. I bet she’s happy with this situation. Did you all spend time together while I was away? What a mistake it was, coming back. You all moved on without me and I’m stuck here with these feelings I can’t control. I want to wish you happiness, but seeing you with someone else just hurts too much. I must find a way to leave soon.

Kili’s eyes widened as he read. The entry was dated the day before. Was Fili actually considering leaving again? Heart pounding, he turned to the previous page and read on.

Âfvalasirkha 7, TA 2904

I really made a mess of things today. I can’t believe I did that. I know I had no right. This is why I left, so you could be happy, but seeing you in his arms... Mahal, I wanted to kill him. The dwarf who had no idea who I was, even when you said my name. You never even mentioned me to him. It probably shouldn’t hurt as much as it does, but I remember when you used to be so proud to be my little brother. Those times are long past. I foolishly thought that, even after everything, you’d let me go back to being your brother as I once was. It would have been hard, it would never be enough, but I was going to try... And now, if I’m not your lover and I can’t be your brother, what am I to you?

It was the entry from that night. Fili hadn’t apologised, but he obviously blamed himself for what had happened. A spark of hope blossomed in Kili’s chest. It seemed that Fili still loved him. But, along with hope, there was suspicion as well. Why was Fili showing him this now? Why would he allow him to read his journal?

There were many entries over the past ten months and Kili read a couple at random, before going back to the day when Fili had left and starting to read them all.

He lost track of time as he read, immersed in the words he never thought he’d hear again, until a knock jolted him back to reality. He looked up, expecting the door to open, but it didn’t. He frowned, confused. Dis always entered without waiting for a response.

The knock came again.

“Yes?”

Slowly, the door opened and Fili peeked inside.

“You need to knock now?” Kili asked, hurt.

Fili made a face, but chose to ignore the question. “We need to tal—What are you doing?” he asked accusingly, eyes fixed on the item in Kili’s hands. “Are you reading my journal?”

Kili seemed bemused by the question, looking at the book in his hands and back at Fili in confusion.

“Yes? Isn’t that what you—“

“That is private! How could you just take it like that?” Fili yelled furiously.

“I didn’t!”

“How come you have it then?” he dared.

“You left it on my bed!”

“What? I did not!” Fili huffed angrily. “Don’t—“

“What is that?” Kili interrupted him.

“What?” he frowned, taken off guard.

“What are you holding?” Kili repeated, pointing to the letters in Fili’s hand. “Are those my letters?”

Reigning in his anger, Fili held them out. “Yes. That’s why I came to talk.”

“So you actually took my letters? And you’re accusing me of taking your stuff!” It was Kili’s turn to get angry.

“What—No! I’d never!” Fili yelled right back.

Looking closer, Kili realised those were actually his letters, the ones he’d sent to Thorin. He deflated and tried to deal with the situation reasonably.

“Did Thorin give those to you?”

It was Fili’s turn to sound confused. “Didn’t you leave them for me?”

“No.” Kili shook his head.

Both of them fell silent for a few moments, until Fili moved and sat heavily on the edge of Kili’s bed, dropping the letters beside him. “I see.”

“What do you think happened, then?” Kili asked.

“Mother must have done it.”

“Mother? Why would she?” Kili’s voice made it clear that he found it very hard to believe.

“I have no idea. But who else? It’s the only explanation,” Fili said with a sigh, looking around the room uncomfortably.

Kili went quiet for a few moments, processing it all.

“So it really wasn’t you who left this for me to read?” he asked after a while, breaking the silence.

“No,” Fili laughed bitterly. “I never wanted you to read that. Ever.”

“Sorry,” Kili whispered, sounding genuine. “I didn’t know.”

Fili nodded in understanding and they lapsed into silence. After a few moments, Kili added, “I’m glad I read it, though.” Fili frowned and a deep blush coloured his cheeks. “Besides, didn’t you read my letters to Thorin? So it evens out,” Kili offered, trying to lighten to mood.

At that, Fili turned to look at him, at last. He looked wrecked with guilt and Kili felt slightly overwhelmed under the weight of his gaze.

“I had no idea I put you through so much pain. I never imagined you’d keep thinking about me this whole time. Thorin never said anything.” He paused for a few seconds, then added, “But now it makes sense why he urged me to come home.”

Fili swallowed thickly. “I knew it would be difficult, but I had no idea I would hurt you this much. I thought you were moving on—“

“Oh, I know what you thought!” Kili cut him off. “I can’t believe the things you came up with. I should be furious about some of the stuff you wrote!”

Fili clenched his jaw, ready to defend himself, but Kili decided to take pity on him. He just shook his head and said, “But I guess you were punished enough for believing those things in the first place.”

Fili looked away again and an uncomfortable silence settled between them. Unwilling to go back to awkwardness and avoiding each other, Kili decided to take a different approach.

“But really, some of the things you wrote in here,” he said, waving Fili’s journal in front of his face. “I had no idea you could be so melodramatic, brother!” he teased, nudging Fili’s side with his foot.

The sudden contact made Fili jump and he whipped his head around to look at Kili.

“I am not!” he scoffed, affronted.

“Oh, really?” Kili asked challengingly and opened the journal. Using the most exaggerated, melodramatic drawl, he started to read.

Are you thinking of me tonight, as I am of you? Are you watching these same stars—” He flailed his arm around theatrically.

“Enough!” Fili ordered, but Kili continued.

—as we used to back home—“ He clutched at his chest.

Fili lunged for him, intent on silencing him. He got on top of Kili, trying to grab the journal from him, but Kili scrambled away. Holding the book out of reach, he managed to move his hand aside every time Fili attempted to grab it.

“I had no idea you were such a poet!” Kili teased further, as Fili finally pinned him down and wrestled the book from him. He snatched it away and threw it to the floor, as Kili giggled mercilessly.

“Stop it, Kee. I really missed you,” Fili said desperately.

The words killed the laugher in Kili’s throat, turning him serious.

“If you missed me, you shouldn’t have left!” he said accusingly.

He immediately regretted the words, his expression softening at the sight of Fili’s guilt-ridden face. He sighed, placing a reassuring hand on Fili’s shoulder. With some effort, he swallowed the lump in his throat and softly admitted, “I missed you, too.”

They looked at each other openly for the first time, letting the pain and loneliness show in their eyes. Seeing the tormented look in his brother’s eyes, Fili knew he would do anything to make it go away. He had to fix this somehow. He cupped Kili’s cheek, tracing the outline of his face.

“I only wanted what’s best for you,” he said, willing Kili to understand.

Before Kili could respond, he leaned down, pressing their lips together.

He kissed him slowly, with nothing but love and tenderness, pouring all his emotions into the kiss. Kili inhaled sharply, surprised into stillness, unable to respond. One heartbeat to the next and he was kissing him back, fingers clutching at Fili’s tunic, pulling him closer, crushing their bodies together.

When they broke off for air, Fili was still only inches away, looking at him with affection clear in his eyes. Kili’s fingers traced his lips, following the line of his moustache, taking one of the braids in his hand playfully. Without warning, he tugged, hard.

“Ow!” Fili yelped, backing away. “What was that for?”

“Being an idiot,” Kili replied sternly, but his lips twitched upwards.

Fili rubbed his abused face, giving him a lopsided smile in return.

“I really was, wasn’t I?”

“Don’t ever do that again,” Kili warned.

“I won’t.”

“I’m serious, Fili. Don’t ever just decide things without me again. I won’t forgive you.”

Seeing the expression on Kili’s face, Fili knew he meant it. “I won’t, I promise.”

“Good,” Kili said, smiling again. “Now come here and kiss me.”

He wrapped his arms around Fili’s neck, guiding him closer to his lips. Fili pressed into him, joining the full length of their bodies, crushing their mouths together. Their lips parted in unison, deepening the kiss, tongues caressing and teasing each other.

Kili’s hands sneaked beneath Fili’s tunic, scraping at his back, making Fili arch into the touch. The tender kisses grew rougher and more heated by the second. Fili’s lips moved to Kili’s neck, sucking and nibbling, making him moan.

Forcing himself to pause and break away, Fili asked, “Are we going too fast?”

“No, we’re going way too slow,” Kili whined, pulling Fili closer and making him chuckle.

Fili leaned down, leaving wet, open-mouthed kisses across Kili’s neck. His fingers quickly unlaced the ties on Kili’s tunic, allowing him to explore more of his skin. Fili sucked on his neck, scraping his teeth across the tender skin, hands roaming his brother’s body and settling with a firm grip on his hips.

His lips trailed lower, leaving kisses in their wake. He buried his nose in Kili’s chest hair, breathing in the familiar scent. Kili hummed approvingly, enjoying the attention. Lifting the hem of his tunic, Fili traced the defined muscles of his abdomen. His fingers followed a trail of hair, leading him lower, and then—Kili’s stomach rumbled loudly, interrupting them.

Fili glanced up and saw the blush spreading across his brother’s cheeks. He threw his head back and laughed.

“Shut up!”

Fili struggled to catch his breath, grinning for the first time in months.

“We should go eat something,” he suggested.

“Now is a really bad time!” Kili whined, making Fili chuckle again.

“I don’t want you to starve. Besides,” he added, after interrupting his words to place a quick peck on Kili’s lips, “we have all night. I have no intention of letting you out of this bed.”

He captured Kili’s bottom lip between his teeth and sucked on it, giving him a small taste of what was to come. When he pulled back, Kili still looked uncertain. He reached out pensively and tucked a few stray hairs behind Fili’s ear.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s stupid,” Kili said, shaking his head.

“Tell me.”

“I just keep waiting to wake up,” he admitted quietly. At Fili’s confused look, he explained. “I had dreams like this, while you were away. But then I’d wake up and you’d be gone.”

Fili looked at him sadly, guilt twisting his face. “I’m not going anywhere. Not again.”

He placed a lingering kiss on Kili’s forehead, embracing him. After a few moments, he stood, offering a hand to help him up.

“We have to eat, though. Come on.”

They went down to the kitchen and found that the house was still empty. Once again, Fili wondered if their mother had somehow planned this, but decided not to worry about it for now.

They found stew on the stove and Kili heated it up, while Fili set the table. He was finished first, so he went to join Kili, standing behind him. He sneaked his arms around his brother’s hips and pulled him against him. His fingers trailed upwards, splaying over Kili’s chest, as he nibbled on his ear and left feathery kisses on the back of his neck.

“Mm,” Kili hummed approvingly, leaning back. “You’d better stop distracting me, unless you like burnt stew.”

“There’s stew?” Fili murmured against his skin distractedly.

Kili turned in his arms and kissed him until they were both lightheaded and breathless. When he pulled back, he put a firm hand of Fili’s chest and pushed him away.

“Now go sit down and wait,” he said in a tone that left no room for argument. “You’re the one who insisted we eat.”

“Understood,” Fili said grinning and did as he was told.

It only took a few more minutes for the stew to be ready and Kili brought it to the table.

“So, tell me about your time away,” Kili broached the subject as they started eating. Fili seemed surprised by the question and it took him a moment to reply.

“There really isn’t much to say.”

“Oh, come on! I always loved Thorin’s stories, now I want to hear some of yours. You owe me that much!” Kili insisted.

“You’re going to keep holding this over me for a very long time, aren’t you?”

“Yep!” Kili grinned.

Fili sighed in mock annoyance, rolling his eyes. “Wonderful.” He paused thoughtfully. “Okay, let’s see. You probably heard from Thorin that my time in Emyn Beraid wasn’t much fun, but there were some nice things to it. Working with Uncle was a great experience. He was strict and made me work hard, but it was exactly what I needed. I learned a lot from him. I made many interesting things and worked for some peculiar people...” he trailed off, thinking.

“It was great to see my skill improve over the months. I made a lot of armour, weapons and jewellery. I even worked for Elves, you know. I thought Thorin was going to have a coronary the first time it happened,” Fili said, chuckling at the memory and making Kili grin at the thought. “I worked so much that I was willing to take on anything. Men simply didn’t have enough work to give me, so I accepted work from some Elves. And then word spread and many of them started coming over. Honestly, I was shocked Uncle didn’t kick them out the moment he saw them. Thinking about it now, I guess he put up with them because of me, since he knew I was having a hard time.”

“Apart from work, I really have no stories to tell. I’m sure Uncle mentioned it in his letters... I really wasn’t up to anything much besides. It’s a shame in some ways, because The White Towers were so close. We could even see them from our window. And, Kee, I wish you could have been there! They look as beautiful as the stories say! It’s such a shame that Uncle refused to visit them. He insisted on calling them abominable Elvish monstrosities,” Fili told him, rolling his eyes. He paused and gave Kili a gentle smile. “I really want us to go there together some day.”

“I’d like that.” Kili returned the smile, a little sadly. “I tried to make Thorin take me with him, you know?” he added with a self-deprecating laugh. “I missed you so much that after a few months I actually tried to convince him to let me come and join you. He refused, of course. He reminded me that I needed to be patient and all that.” He waved his hand dismissively. “And he was right, of course. I really tried to prove that I could be mature about it, but you took way too long.” He pointed a spoon at Fili accusingly.

Fili frowned thoughtfully, taking another spoonful of stew.

“Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t come. I don’t think I was ready to listen before. I had to give you a chance to change your mind.”

“Yes, yes, I know. Because you’re an idiot,” Kili said fondly, sticking his tongue out at him.

“Nice. That’s so mature. I’m ashamed I ever doubted you!”

Kili kicked him under the table, making him yelp.

“I can’t believe you seriously expected me to change my mind. No, wait. You actually thought I had!”

“Oh, come on! I saw you two hugging, what was I supposed to think?”

“Anything other than that?” Kili suggested, eyes widening. “You can be really thick sometimes,” he sighed. He looked straight into Fili’s eyes. “There’s only ever been you, okay?”

Fili nodded, his throat feeling impossibly tight, and bowed his head, trying to hide the smile spreading across his lips. Warmth pooled in his stomach, slowly spreading outward, making him feel dizzy with joy.

“Same for me,” he said softly, his hand reaching across the table to take Kili’s and entwine their fingers. Kili smiled and squeezed back.

“But you were right, I never mentioned you to Ori.” At Fili’s questioning look, he continued, “The Dwarf I was with. In your journal, you mentioned he didn’t know you. You were right.”

Fili nodded, biting his lip thoughtfully.

“I wasn’t ashamed of you, Fee,” Kili explained, knowing the first thing his brother would think. “It just hurt too much to talk about you. The time I spent with Ori was a distraction and I couldn’t think of you. But I’ve always been happy you’re my brother.”

Fili smiled, tracing his fingers across Kili’s palm. Then, looking pointedly at their joined hands, he asked teasingly, “Really? I’m sure you don’t mean always.” He meant it as a joke, but Kili was dead serious as he replied.

“No, I mean it. That’s what you don’t understand. You’re my brother, my best friend and my One. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Kee...” Fili said in a choked voice, squeezing his hand tightly.

He stood up and moved around the table, kneeling at Kili’s feet and pulling him in a tight embrace.

“I did a terrible job of all three. But I’ll make it up to you,” he promised against Kili’s chest, holding him close. Kili carded his fingers through Fili’s hair, pressing feathery kisses to the top of his head.

“You can start right now,” he suggested softly.

“What can I do?”

“Make love to me,” he whispered against Fili’s hair and the arms around him tightened. Fili pulled back to look at him, searching his eyes for confirmation and Kili smiled despite the slight blush colouring his cheeks. Bashfulness wasn’t a side he often showed and it made him look gorgeous. Fili couldn’t resist kissing him right there, crushing their lips together in a searing kiss.

“Let’s go upstairs,” he murmured, still close enough that each word brushed against Kili’s lips as he spoke. He stood up, forgetting about dinner or cleaning up, and Kili followed.

With unspoken agreement, they ended up in Kili’s room. It used to be their room, after all.

When he closed the door, Kili leaned on it, looking at Fili. His heart was pounding. They’d done this so many times before, but after so long, it felt like the first time again. The uncertainty on Fili’s face betrayed the same emotions.

Perhaps it was even more frightening this time, when they were aware of the problems they’d faced and the betrayal that followed. They knew exactly what would happen if they allowed this to happen again. The world couldn’t understand the bond they shared. And, while the first time could be excused as a foolish, youthful mistake, this would be a conscious decision.

Standing there, looking at each other by the light of Kili’s candle, they both knew there was only one answer in their hearts.

Feeling a mixture of excitement and anticipation, Kili moved first. He approached Fili, quickly and with purpose. When he was close enough, Fili tried to kiss him, but Kili smirked and leaned out of the way. He took Fili’s arms and held them at his side, guiding him backwards. Arching an eyebrow, Fili obeyed.

It was only a couple of steps before they reached the bed, Kili’s devilish smile never leaving his face. He looked down into Fili’s eyes mischievously, licking his lips unconsciously. He was playful and happy and Fili couldn’t help beaming back.

“I’ve missed your smile,” he said, making Kili blush.

“Shut up,” Kili mumbled and kissed him, just to make sure he would.

He released Fili’s wrists, fingers moving up his arms, caressing his sides, slowly relearning the feel of his body. He leaned into the touch as Fili traced his spine, all the way down, squeezing his sensitive rear and pulling him closer, making him moan into the kiss.

Fili smirked at the sound, pleased that he could still make him react so easily. He trailed wet kisses along Kili’s jaw, sucking at the junction where it met his neck, pleased at how he tilted his head, asking for more.

He felt Kili lift his tunic, sneaking his hands inside. The backs of his fingers trailed over Fili’s stomach, playing with the coarse hairs around his navel. Eager to explore more, Kili lifted the shirt, pulling it over Fili’s head and ignoring the muffled noise of protest at being dislodged from Kili’s neck.

The action left Fili’s braids completely dishevelled and Kili smiled at the sight. He ran his hands over the blonde hair, trying to get it under control, making them both laugh and the futileness of the action. His touches gradually became firmer, turning into sensual caresses, massaging and scraping the scalp. Fili practically purred in his arms. In one smooth motion, he took the hem of Kili’s shirt and pulled it off, discarding it on the floor.

He sat down on the bed, pulling Kili along. Kili pressed up against him, straddling him and wrapping his legs around his waist, flushing their naked chests together. They kissed heatedly, urgently, struggling to breathe, their hands leaving fervent touches everywhere they could reach.

Kili’s hands moved lower, sneaking in between their bodies and cupping Fili through the breeches. Through the haze of his arousal, a small voice cheered, reminding him that he’d lost hope of Fili ever desiring him again.

He traced the contour of the hardness, teasing, making Fili moan into the kiss and try to bite Kili’s tongue in retaliation. Kili chuckled, teasing Fili’s lips with his teeth instead. His touches were feather-light, with the sole purpose of driving Fili insane. And even when he bucked up against him, urging him to do more, Kili would not.

With a growl, Fili’s arms came up around Kili’s waist, grabbing him and flinging him down on the bed. Kili gasped in shock, silenced a moment later by Fili’s lips, as he covered him with his body. He allowed Fili to pin his hands above his head and grinned, grinding their hips together invitingly.

Fili used one hand to hold down both of Kili’s, while the other trailed down his chest. His fingers inched lower, slowly, so slowly, alternating tender touches and teasing scratches, setting Kili’s body on fire. He circled a nipple, pinching it, playing with it until it became sensitive, all the while looking into his eyes, enjoying his reactions.

Kili gasped, struggling to free his hands, eager to do some touching himself. Fili just grinned, holding him firmly in place, maintaining the torturously slow pace. After making the little bud sensitive, he leaned down and took it in his mouth. He swirled his tongue around it, adding just a hint of teeth, and blew hot air on the over-sensitised flesh.

“Stop teasing!” Kili panted breathlessly.

Fili lifted his face to look at him and smirked. “Teasing? I’d never.”

His actions belied his words, as he moved to the other nipple, his fingers tracing the defined muscles of Kili’s stomach. They followed a downward path, cupping Kili through the trousers and making him arch off the bed. He leaned up and claimed Kili’s lips, while his hand worked on unlacing his breeches.

He let go of Kili’s wrists and moved down his body, intent on removing the rest of his clothes. He took hold of Kili’s trousers, dragging them lower and lower down his hips, kissing and nibbling on every inch of freed skin, until, finally, pulling them all the way off.

That was all the warning Kili had before Fili took him in his mouth.

He let out a choked gasp, hands scrambling for something to hold. He reached for the headboard behind him, then clutched at the sheets, ultimately burying his fingers in Fili’s hair, digging into his scalp. Kili moaned, his blood pumping faster. Fili teased him with his tongue, still moving slowly up and down his length, swirling his tongue at the tip the way he knew Kili liked.

It had been too long and, soon enough, Kili was on the edge.

“Stop,” he moaned. “I don’t want it over too quickly.”

Reluctantly, with one last teasing pull of his tongue, Fili released him from his mouth. Immediately, Kili rolled out from underneath him, leaving Fili lying on his stomach. Fili moved to follow, but a hand on his back held him in place.

“No, stay that way,” Kili suggested, and he relaxed into the mattress.

Kili moved on top of him, kissing his shoulder blades, the nape of his neck, the sensitive spot behind his ears. He felt strong fingers dig into his hips, holding him down, while Kili’s hardness pressed against him through the trousers. Fili moaned, unable to stop his body from seeking friction against the bed. Kili just chuckled, pressing his body even closer.

Fili felt the kisses move lower, trailing along the length of his spine, hands retracing their path. Once Kili’s wandering fingers had reached the hem of his trousers, he’d ordered Fili to turn around. Looking him straight in the eye and grinning, Kili unlaced them and, in one smooth motion, pulled them off and away. He took Fili in his hand, starting to pump and squeeze slowly, making Fili close his eyes with a groan.

“I want to try something,” he said and Fili nodded, agreeing easily. No matter what Kili wanted, he knew he could not refuse him.

Kili leaned up and kissed him, hot and hard, grinning bashfully as they parted. He took hold of Fili’s arms, pulling him lower on the bed and positioning him in a way they could both find comfortable. Kili then turned upside down, lying sideways next to Fili and resting his head on his inner thigh.

Fili guessed what Kili was about to do and the thought alone made him tremble with anticipation.

He spread his legs, giving Kili more room. He sneaked one arm beneath Kili, wrapping it around his knees. He squeezed his buttocks, pulling him closer, and breathed in the scent of his arousal.

He felt Kili’s tongue trace his length, from base to tip, making him fight the urge to drive deeper into wet heat. The sensation made Kili’s own hardness twitch in front of his face, a drop of pre-come forming at the top. Fili couldn’t resist, so he leaned in to taste it, kissing the tip and swiping the droplet off with his tongue. He continued to tease the glans, making Kili moan around the cock in his mouth.

Kili’s fingers clawed across Fili’s stomach, over his thighs, going lower to tease the shaft, and back again. His head moved up and down, taking as much of Fili in his mouth as he could. Fili placed a hand on the back of his head, encouraging him.

They were slowly driven insane by the unique feeling of giving pleasure and receiving it. In their short time together, they hadn’t done much, and this was the first time they’d pleasured each other at the same time. Judging by the pants and heavy moans filling the room, it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Fili’s hand that rested on Kili’s rear came down, caressing his thighs, and slowly slipped in between, coming to tease at his opening. He circled it lightly, nudging against it in time with the thrusts of his head. He wasn’t prepared for anything more; he doubted either of them were. Still, it felt nice to tease, to give both of them an idea what would one day follow.

The touches made Kili’s hips jerk unconsciously, burying him deep into Fili’s throat and nearly making him choke. Kili let Fili’s length slip from his mouth, gasping, trying to regain his breath. He rested his forehead against Fili’s thigh, his eyes closed, breaths coming out in sharp pants. Seeing Kili out of control like that only aroused Fili further.

He continued to tease Kili with his fingers, slackening his jaw and allowing him to set the pace. Kili’s head was still resting against Fili’s thigh, his breaths sending hot air on Fili’s hardness and making him moan. His movements were erratic and it was clear he wouldn’t last much longer.

A long moan started building in his throat and Fili could already taste him on his tongue. Kili tapped his shoulder in warning, but Fili just brought his other hand on Kili’s hip, holding him in place, moving his head to meet his thrusts.

The combined sensations brought Kili over the edge and he came, spilling his release into Fili’s mouth. Fili was prepared, they’d done this sort of thing before, and he sucked and swallowed, until Kili was fully spent.

When he felt Kili start to shudder at his light licks and touches, he knew his skin had become too tender, so after one final kiss at the tip, Fili let him slip from his mouth. Unwilling to let it end, he kept kissing in other places, sucking on his inner thighs, leaving little bite marks on the junction where his legs met his hips, placing feathery kisses across his stomach and everywhere he could reach.

Kili made soft content noises, humming in approval, sagging lazily against Fili and unwilling to move. When he recovered his strength, he lifted himself up on one elbow, taking Fili in his hand. He moved his hand swiftly, efficiently, sparking Fili’s desire, before leaning down and taking him in his mouth again.

Fili fell back on the bed, basking in the sensations, already aroused out of his mind. Kili’s fingers gripped his shaft, covering the part he couldn’t take into his mouth, pumping in time with his thrusts, before trailing lower, caressing his balls. He took them in his hand, squeezing and pulling playfully. The pressure was gentle, barely there, slowly increasing, as he took cue from the ecstasy on Fili’s face.

It didn’t take long for Fili’s hips to start twitching erratically in time with Kili’s thrusts. Kili hummed around him, knowing how much it turned him on and Fili gasped, turning his face aside and half-burying it in the sheets. He couldn’t keep this up. It had been way too long. A lick, a swallow, a moan around his length and he was keening, bucking of the bed and coming into Kili’s mouth, who took it all down.

When Fili was spent, Kili turned on the bed, coming up to lie with him. He kissed him lazily, utterly exhausted and spent, his fingers playing with Fili’s chest hair idly. When they broke the kiss, Kili turned around, groping in search of the blanket. The covers were completely rumpled and the blanket had ended up on the floor, and so, with a deep sigh, he resigned himself to getting up to retrieve it. He covered them both and snuggled close against Fili, embracing him.

It was fully dark outside by then and they’d both had an exhausting day behind them, so Fili stretched up and put out the candle sitting on the bedside table. Sleepy and happy, they drifted off, holding each other in their arms.

 


 

When Kili woke, the sun was already high in the sky, making the room warm and bright. He blinked sleep from his eyes. For one terrifying moment, he wondered if last night had been a dream. He shifted, stretching, and as he moved, felt a warm body pressed up against his back. Relaxing, he smiled and looked over his shoulder.

Fili was already awake, watching him.

“Good morning,” he said smiling back and, without worrying about morning breath, leaned in for a kiss.

“Mm,” Kili murmured against his lips. “It really is.”

He turned and wrapped his arms around Fili, spooning him so close that their noses touched.

“How long have you been awake?”

“Not long,” Fili replied, looking slightly cross-eyes as he tried to watch Kili at their proximity. Still, neither would move away.

“I wonder if Mother is home,” Kili said quietly. “Maybe she already realised you weren’t in your room.”

“We’ll find out soon enough.”

“Aren’t you worried?”

Fili pressed a hand to the back of Kili’s neck and pulled back slightly so he could look into his eyes properly.

“I won’t let anyone come between us again. I promise you that.”

Kili searched his eyes and must have found some reassurance there, because he nodded.

They spent some time simply lying together, trading gentle kisses and delicate touches, lazily enjoying the morning. But hunger and worry of what was to come wouldn’t leave them be, so they soon dressed and headed down for breakfast.

They needn’t have worried, for they found the house was still empty. It was only morning, but Fili was growing increasingly concerned. Dis should have come back by now. Could something have happened? He decided to go look for her after breakfast.

The kitchen was a mess, like they’d left it the night before, so Fili set to cleaning up, while Kili prepared breakfast. He made eggs and bacon and some toast to go with that.

Every time Kili was done using a plate, pan or a utensil, he’d toss it across the room, into Fili’s waiting hands and he’d immediately wash it. A couple of times, he nearly missed, which resulted in Fili’s outraged cursing and Kili’s playful teasing.

Their laughter and the smell of freshly cooked food spread through the house and hung in the air. The whole room was vibrating with mirth and happiness.

That was how Dis found them.

They were so lost in each other and what they were doing that they hadn’t heard the door open or their mother walk in. She stood in the doorway, watching them, and the iron grip holding her heart let up a tiny bit. She cleared her throat and both of them turned at once, smiles on their faces.

“Mother!”

They beamed at her, but she recognised the guarded look in Fili’s eyes and Kili’s defensive stance. After everything, she really couldn’t blame them for feeling cautious.

“You should join us for breakfast,” Kili suggested. “I made plenty!”

She smiled and nodded. “I’d like that. I’ll just wash my hands first.”

As she headed out of the room, she caught the concerned look between the boys, but neither of them said anything.

When she came back, they’d already set the table and taken their usual seats. The mood was slightly tense, as they all knew what must have happened to bring about the sudden change in their relationship. Now they were trying to gauge her reaction.

She joined them at the table, filling her plate and taking a small bite of bacon.

“This tastes wonderful, Kili. You always were a better cook than me,” she praised, smiling, and Kili grinned back.

“Don’t be silly, I learned it all from you!”

“Too bad I didn’t pick up any of it. I can’t even make toast,” Fili added.

“Well, then I’ll just have to make sure you’re well fed!” Kili said excitedly, belatedly realising the implications of his words.

They both turned to Dis who was pointedly not looking at them, concentrating on chewing. She felt her stomach knot and tried to relax. She knew she’d made the right decision this time. It was clear how much happier they both were, and that’s all that mattered. Still, it didn’t mean she could understand it.

Dis forced herself to face them and Fili held her gaze. He lifted his hand and covered Kili’s on the table, where she could clearly see. Her eyes widened. She looked at their joint hands and saw Kili’s move to tangle their fingers together.

They were making a statement, that much was clear.

Dis focused back on Fili and he smiled at her tentatively. Slowly, her lips formed a smile in return. She reached out with both hands and cupped their cheeks, looking from one to the other.

“My boys,” she said tenderly, but sadly. She covered their hands with both of hers, squeezing reassuringly and Fili looked at her with immeasurable love and gratitude.

“Thank you, Mom,” he whispered and the words nearly choked them both.

She still worried, of course. She feared that their connection ran too deep and, even now, she couldn’t understand or fully accept it. Yet, even she could see that they were two halves of one whole. This was inevitable.

Dis looked at her boys, her beautiful sons. She worried what the future held for them, what kind of judgement or problems they might face. But seeing them united like this, she knew they would never be alone, and that thought consoled her.

They would be at each other’s side until the very end, she had no doubt about that.