Hello and welcome to my first Hobbit fanfiction!
This is my first attempt at ever writing anything for this fandom. I've seen the first movie twice and the second movie once. I've read the book once. I hope my characterization is correct, but obviously, first fic for a new fandom means it might not be. I welcome any and all constructive criticism.
A note on dwarf ages: I spent a lot of time looking into how dwarf ages translate into human years. What I finally found was a tumblr post explaining how they calculated the ages, which I found to be my favorite method. Basically, since the average life expectancy of people in 1937 (the year the Hobbit was published) was around 60, and the average life expectancy of a dwarf is canonically 250, then you do a proportion using those numbers to figure out a dwarf age. Considering Kíli is canonically 77, that makes him around 18 in human years. For when dwarves come of age, I figured it had to be somewhere between Kíli's age (77) and Gimli's age (62), considering he wasn't allowed to come on the journey. The age I finally chose was 75, which translates exactly to 18 in human years.
With that said, I hope you enjoy the fic!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Hobbit.
"Kíli!" Bilbo watched from across the small camp as Kíli got up from where he was sitting with his brother (and undoubtedly planning some sort of mischief, considering how they had their heads bowed together) and went over to Thorin.
"Yes, Thorin?" he asked, the picture of a perfect subject. Bilbo didn't buy it for a second.
"We need food," Thorin replied gruffly. Bilbo wasn't sure there was another way he could talk. "Take the burglar with you."
"He has a name," Kíli replied mildly. Bilbo swore he could hear Thorin grind his teeth from across the camp.
"Take Bilbo with you," he repeated. Kíli smiled widely - far too widely, considering Kíli's personality - and beckoned to Bilbo.
"Come, Master Baggins," he called. Bilbo scooped up his sword, just in case, and quickly went over to Kíli. Fíli stood as well, expecting to go along with them.
"No, Fíli," Thorin interrupted. Kíli and Fíli gave him twin looks of shock and outrage. "Don't look at me like that," Thorin scolded, sounding more like a father than a king (at least in Bilbo's opinion). "No one's yet forgotten what happened the last time I sent you two out hunting on your own."
Fíli at least had the decency to look ashamed at the reminder of the last prank the brothers had pulled, which had involved rope, a dead bird, and a very angry Dwalin. Kíli didn't. "But-"
"Kíli, you go hunt with the hobbit. With Bilbo," Thorin corrected, before Kíli could do it for him. "Fíli, you'll stay here and help Glóin in making a fire."
Now decidedly less happy about the whole thing, Kíli marched off into the forest, leaving Bilbo scrambling to keep up. "Kíli!" he called as he started to fall further and further behind. "Kíli, I cannot keep up!"
"I apologize, Master Baggins," Kíli replied, stopping short. Bilbo caught up with him quickly.
"Not a problem. And please, call me Bilbo."
"I can't believe that Thorin wouldn't let Fíli come with us," Kíli grumbled as they walked.
"Are you two twins?" Bilbo asked. Kíli shook his head.
"Fíli is five years my senior." That was surprising - Fíli didn't look five years older than Kíli - but Bilbo let it slide. "I cannot remember a time without him," Kíli added wistfully. "Fíli has always been by my side. He's always there to protect me." Bilbo had seen that first-hand, when a spooked pony had dragged Kíli into a river and Fíli had nearly drowned himself to get to his brother. Even when assured by Óin that he would be alright, Fíli had refused to leave Kíli's side until he awoke. Everyone had been worried, but Fíli had been beside himself.
"Damn my uncle," Kíli muttered to himself. Bilbo frowned.
"Sorry, did you say your uncle?" Kíli looked at Bilbo, his brow furrowed in confusion.
"Yes. Thorin. Did you not know he's my uncle?"
"Thorin is your uncle?" That was the first Bilbo had heard of that.
"My mother Dís is his sister." Bilbo thought for a moment, frowning.
"Has Thorin any children?"
"Then would that not make you and Fíli his heirs?" Bilbo asked. Kíli nodded.
"Aye. Fíli is next in line for the throne, and I after him. After we reclaim Erebor, we'll both be princes." Kíli spat the word venomously. Bilbo frowned.
"Is something wrong with that?"
"I don't want to be a prince," Kíli replied. "And I don't want Fíli to be a prince either. Nor does he. But we have no choice. That's why we're on this quest."
"I thought you volunteered," Bilbo asked, an edge of caution in his voice. Kíli nodded.
"We volunteered, yes. After Thorin told us that we would never be seen as worthy of the throne of Erebor if we did not help in reclaiming it." Kíli kicked a rock bitterly. "That's not to say we didn't want to come. We both thought it would be a grand adventure, to go off and slay a dragon. And after what our uncle said, what choice did we have?"
"Is it not safer to have at least one heir…well, not on the quest?" Bilbo asked. Kíli laughed harshly.
"You would think. But Thorin is convinced we both must come on the quest. And here we are!" Without warning, Kíli notched an arrow and shot unerringly at a large rabbit that was bounding across the grass. Bilbo couldn't help but admire his skill.
"You're a good archer," he complimented, hoping to lighten the mood. Kíli's lips twitched in a slight smile.
"Thank you. But, may I ask, have you seen much archery?"
"Well, no," Bilbo admitted. "But it seems to me that you are very good at it." Kíli's hint of a smile grew to a true one.
"You think that's good? Watch this." Kíli picked up a rock and threw it into the trees. Instantly, a flood of birds flew out. In a whirl of motion that looked almost too quick to be real, Kíli shot down three of the birds. Bilbo applauded appreciatively and Kíli took a small bow.
"We should go collect those," he said, nodding towards where the birds fell. It wasn't too far away. Bilbo picked up the dead rabbit and put it in the game bag that Kíli held out, then they started towards the birds.
"Kíli?" Bilbo asked, a question that had been on his mind finally refusing to be stifled any longer. "May I ask you a question?"
"You just did," Kíli replied, his eyes twinkling with mirth. "But yes, you may ask me another."
"I, um…" Bilbo wasn't quite sure where to begin. "I don't know much of dwarf culture," he finally started. "And if what I ask is insulting, forgive me. I'm just curious."
"Ask your question," Kíli encouraged, smiling. Bilbo nodded.
"Yes, well, I was just wondering…why don't you have a beard?"
Kíli laughed, making Bilbo jump. "Is that it?" Bilbo nodded shyly. "I shave," Kíli replied. Bilbo frowned slightly.
"But the others, they all seem so proud of their beards. Why do you shave?"
"The others aren't archers," Kíli replied simply. "If I had a beard, it would make archery much more difficult. Look." Demonstrating, Kíli pulled back his bow, showing Bilbo how the string brushed up against his cheek. "If I had a beard, it could get caught in the bow or, Mahal forbid, the arrow. Therefore, I shave." Kíli's lips twitched into another smile. "But I sense you still have more questions," he added. "You can ask. I won't be insulted, I promise."
"I was just wondering why you preferred archery," Bilbo admitted. "The others all have their swords or their axes while you have your bow. And, although I might be wrong, archery doesn't seem a very…dwarfish thing to me."
"It's not," Kíli replied. They had reached the birds by that point and they put them in the bag. "But it's what I'm good at." As if to emphasize his point, Kíli shot an arrow and pierced another rabbit through the heart. When he went to collect it, he found another rabbit nearby and quickly snapped its neck. They both went in the bag as well. Bilbo thought that was enough, but Kíli made no move to return to the camp. Perhaps they needed more. After all, there were fifteen of them, although Gandalf never seemed to eat much. And one of those fifteen was Bombur, who never seemed to stop eating. Now that Bilbo thought about it, three rabbits and three birds was far from enough.
"But, and forgive me if I'm wrong, I've always thought a bow and arrows were more of an elfish weapon. Not to insult you or anything, in calling you elfish. I'm not saying you're elfish. Just that I thought archery was," Bilbo put in, stumbling over his words to make sure they wouldn't be an insult. Kíli smiled slightly.
"You can stop acting so worried about your questions," he told Bilbo. "I'm not insulted by them." Bilbo blushed slightly. "In answer to your question, archery is considered elfish by many. For a long while, that kept me from practicing it as I wished. Thorin disapproved especially, as he hates elves so."
"What changed?" Bilbo asked. Kíli sighed.
"I saved his life," he replied. Bilbo's eyes went wide.
"It was a good time ago," Kíli replied. "I had not yet come of age, although that itself is a recent development. It was around thirty years ago."
"Thirty years ago?" Bilbo repeated in shock. "But you don't look to be over twenty!"
"I'm seventy-seven," Kíli replied with a smile. Bilbo's jaw dropped.
"No, for once, I'm not," Kíli replied, still smiling. "Dwarrow-"
"Dwarrow?" Bilbo asked. He had never heard the word before.
"I believe you use the word dwarves," Kíli replied. "But the proper plural is dwarrow. Either way, we mature slower than humans. I'm seventy-seven, Fíli is eighty-two, and Thorin is a hundred ninety-five years old."
"I suppose that makes me the youngest in the company," Bilbo replied, slightly dazed. A hundred ninety-five! Kíli shrugged.
"In years, perhaps. But dwarrow have a longer life span than humans or hobbits, so we mature more slowly. In human terms, I'm around eighteen years old. A dwarf comes of age at seventy-five."
"So how old were you in human terms when you saved Thorin?" Bilbo asked. Kíli frowned, thinking.
"Well, I was forty-nine, so…around twelve?" Bilbo raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"And how did you manage to save Thorin's life?" he asked. Kíli shot down another bird as he began to speak.
"This was when we were living in the Blue Mountains. We had created a town."
"We?" Bilbo asked, sensing the world described a bigger group than just Kíli and Thorin.
"The dwarrow of Erebor," Kíli replied distractedly. He was creeping towards a rabbit that was nibbling on a piece of grass. With unerring aim, he shot it in the back of the head. The rabbit fell.
"Do you think we have enough?" Bilbo asked, holding out the game bag for the rabbit. Kíli nodded.
"We should return to camp."
"Continue the story," Bilbo urged as they began to walk. Kíli smiled slightly.
"Alright. Many of the older dwarrow had left. They were off on a hunting trip. Practically our whole company was on the trip. But Thorin had to stay. He had sustained an injury to his leg while fighting goblins and he couldn't properly put weight on his leg." Kíli was hardly paying attention to Bilbo or his surroundings. He was clearly caught up in the story. To be fair, so was Bilbo.
"It was getting late. Twilight. Fíli was practicing swordplay while Uncle Thorin watched. I was with my mother Dís in our house. That was when the raiders arrived." Bilbo sucked in a shocked breath. Kíli didn't seem to even hear it.
"They had picked the perfect time to attack. Almost all of the warriors were gone. The raiders weren't very well disciplined, but they had a good leader. He was staying back, out of the fighting. No one could get to him." Kíli's hands were tight on his bow, his knuckles white
"My mother told me to hide, but I wasn't going to do it while Fíli was in danger. I snuck out of the house and managed to get to the training ground. Fíli wasn't there, nor was Uncle Thorin. But there were raiders, so I hid in the hall until they passed. One of them was killed, but the others killed the dwarf that did it. Everyone around me was dying, and nothing could stop it."
Bilbo couldn't imagine a child Kíli's age in that sort of a mess. Thinking about it obviously still affected Kíli, considering how white his face was. Bilbo was going to say something, but Kíli continued before he could.
"The raider that had been killed had a bow. It was huge, bigger than anything I'd ever practiced with. And I'd never been able to practice much. But I had a thought. If the leader of the raiders died, they would be an unorganized mess, with no idea what to do. No one could get to the leader, but an archer could shoot him.
"I picked up the bow and arrows and ran to the top floor of the hall. My first two attempts at shooting didn't work. The arrow didn't even go anywhere. But on my third try, the arrow flew."
"Kíli's aim was true," another voice continued. It was Fíli. Kíli and Bilbo were at the edge of the camp, where Fíli was collecting firewood. He must have heard their story. "The arrow struck the leader of the raiders in the heart. I was hiding, trying to get back to the house to protect Kíli, but I didn't have to."
"When the leader died, the raiders fell apart," Kíli added. "After that, it was easy to send them all away and kill those that refused to flee."
"Kíli saved us all," Fíli finished with a smile. Kíli's face went pink.
"You're exaggerating," he mumbled. "I didn't save us all. I just helped."
"After that, Thorin couldn't help but let Kíli learn archery," Fíli told Bilbo. "Not after Kíli saved us all with it. Now my brother is the best dwarf archer there has ever been."
"Fíli!" Kíli protested. "Bilbo, you mustn't listen to him. Fíli exaggerates."
"I'm not sure he does," Bilbo replied. "Your archery is quite phenomenal." Kíli's entire face was bright red at that point. He let out a faint squeak of protest that made Fíli laugh.
"Kíli! Bilbo!" Thorin's voice echoed across the camp. Kíli jumped to attention. "Have you brought back the food?"
"Yes, Uncle!" Kíli replied quickly, his face returning to its normal coloring quickly. He handed the bag over to Thorin, who passed it on to Bombur to cook after taking a quick glance inside.
"Those were all clean shots," he mentioned. Kíli nodded.
"I tried my best."
"Good job," Thorin replied. His voice was gruff, but Bilbo could hear an undeniable fondness in it. He smiled.
Perhaps Thorin was a better uncle than he had thought.