Disclaimer: I do not own the Hobbit. It belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson and Company.

My Sister's Keeper

Chapter 13

"My child?" Dis whispered. "Please, what's happening?" she begged.

Thorin still grasped his sister's leg, but found himself unable to tear his eyes away from the tiny, still baby held in a towel in the midwife's arms. She rubbed the small form vigorously as she tried to get the wee babe to draw its first breath.

"Thorin," Dis choked out, "I can't….Ehren…" Her eyes lolled back in her head as she lost consciousness.

"Dis!" her brother called, pulling his attention from his nephew and focusing on his sister. "Oin, what is it? What's wrong with her?" He took her hand between his own and held it tenderly.

The healer examined Dis closely, checking her pulse and lifting her eyelids to check her eyes. "She's exhausted, weak, and mourning her son. We will keep her comfortable and she should awaken shortly." Oin tucked Dis beneath the blankets with a deep sigh.

"It was a boy," Thorin stated, his heart heavy with sadness.

Oin nodded and opened his mouth to reply.

There was a sputtering at the foot of Dis' bed and then the tiny baby let out a lusty howl. Thorin jerked at the sound and, without letting go of his sister's hand, he turned to face the midwife. "Will he live?

"He has fight left him in yet," she replied. "I believe he will make it."

Thorin's shoulders slumped in relief and he strained to get a look at the child as the midwife carried him to the basin nearby to bathe him. All he could see was a thatch of dark hair.

"Dis," he murmured, bending over his sister and stroking her hair back from her face. "When you wake, I will introduce you to your son. You did very well, sister." Worry assaulted him when she didn't stir, but Oin didn't seem concerned.

Instead, he clapped Thorin on the shoulder. "Perhaps you can see to your new nephew while we care for Dis. He hasn't had much nourishment in the past few days. You can see if you can get him to take a bottle."

Thorin stared at Oin, horrified. He had held Fili as an infant when he visited with Ehren and Dis, but he'd never helped in the day-to-day care of a tiny infant. "I-I," he sputtered.

"Here you are," the midwife crooned as she handed a newly bathed nephew to Thorin.

The dwarf king stared in awe at the bundle in his arms. The child, though thin and small, had the dark hair of the Durin line. His rosebud lips were pursed until he let out a huge yawn, making Thorin smile. When he blinked his eyes open, Thorin's heart stopped. They were dark brown. Fili, Dis, and Thorin all had blue eyes. This little one would have his father's chocolate-colored eyes. Perhaps they would be a balm to Dis' grieving soul. He held the babe close to his chest, feeling his warmth seep through his tunic. Such a tiny, precious life, this little one he held in his arms.

Thorin settled himself into a chair in the corner and cradled his nephew in his arms. "You may be small now," he murmured, "but one day you will grow up to be a great warrior."

Dark eyes blinked up at him owlishly and then the baby opened his mouth and began to squall.

"Here." Oin thrust a bottle at Thorin, the nipple fashioned out of cloth. "See if you can get him to suckle. He needs nourishment or he will not stay healthy."

Anxiously, Thorin stared down at the babe in his arms and experimentally managed to get the end of the bottle into his mouth. He watched in disappointment as the baby screamed louder at this new intrusion. Determined to see that his nephew lived, Thorin tried again and again and again. Finally, the little imp got a taste of the milk and moved his little mouth a bit. The dwarf king held his breath as the baby in his arms rolled the cloth around with his tongue before finally beginning to suckle. "He's taking it," Thorin breathed with relief.

"Good, good," Oin called as he helped the midwife dressed Dis in a clean gown. Through it all, Thorin's sister never stirred. "When he drinks half of it, you need to burp him."

Thorin frowned. He remembered Dis and Ehren placing Fili against their shoulders and patting his back. At times, burping had been a messy business when Fili had spit up all over their clothing. Still, he watched carefully and when the bottle was half-gone, he pulled the nipple from the boy's mouth. The baby began howling in indignation. Thorin propped him on his shoulder with a grin. He could already tell this little one was going to be a mischief maker. He alternated between rubbing and patting the baby's back and was soon rewarded with a loud burp.

"Sounds like he's holding his own," Oin announced as he came over to check on Thorin and the baby now that Dis had been cared for.

"He will be fine," Thorin informed the healer, already loving this little babe so much that his heart ached at the thought of losing him.

Oin nodded. "I will go and brew a broth for Dis to give her strength. I believe she will wake soon."

Thorin nodded and finished feeding the baby, burping him once more. The child fell asleep against his shoulder and Thorin brushed a kiss against the smooth forehead. "Sleep well, little warrior. You will get to meet your mother and your brother soon."

He was right, for Dis began to stir beneath the blankets. A low sob escaped her lips and then another until she curled on her side and allowed her body to shake with grief.

Her baby was dead. The child had been her last gift from Ehren, and her own weakness had failed him. If only she had been able to keep down nourishment. If only she had been able to summon more strength and deliver him faster. The quiet in the room pressed against her and Dis allowed a broken cry to emerge. Soon, the tears rolled down her cheeks and she turned her sore body onto its side as she mourned her child. Too much loss, too much, she couldn't take much more. There was no way her heart could bear it.

"Dis!" With horror, Thorin realized that his sister thought her babe was dead. "Dis, the child lives. He is fine." The dwarf king pushed out of the chair and, keeping the infant cradled gently against him, hurried to his sister's side. He sat on the edge of the bed and reached out to cup her chin. "Look up at me, Sister."

The grieving woman took in a shuddering breath and turned her red-rimmed eyes toward her brother. They widened in surprise when she saw a small bundle cradled against Thorin's chest. "Is that…is that my child?"

"It is your son," he smiled, feeling joy spread through him at the eager expression that bloomed on his sister's face.

The midwife suddenly scurried into the room to help her patient sit up against the pillows. As soon as the woman back away, Dis was reaching for her son with trembling arms. "I need to hold him."

Thorin gently transferred the sleeping infant into her waiting arms. The baby stirred and opened his eyes briefly. Thorin heard his sister's sharp intake of breath.

"He has Ehren's eyes," she mumbled, tears once again filling her blue orbs.

"Yes," Thorin smiled, placing a large, callused hand on the baby's dark hair. "He has your hair."

Dis examined her youngest son from head to toe and proclaimed him perfect. Her strength was fading, however, and Thorin took the child before she dropped him. "You need to rest, Sister," he soothed. "I will fetch Fili from Bofur and see that he is cared for."

Dis nodded and allowed her brother to help her slide down beneath the blankets. "Kili."

"What?" Thorin asked, confused.

"My son, his name is Kili," she smiled. "I think Ehren would have like that name."

"I think so, too," Thorin assured his sister. "It suits the babe nicely."

She hummed in response and by the time Thorin placed the baby in the cradle in the corner his sister was already asleep.

Now it was time to get Fili so that he could meet his baby brother. Thorin set off for Bofur's with excitement in his step once the midwife promised to keep an eye on Dis and Kili.

When Thorin entered Bofur's shop, the toymaker pressed a finger to his lips and pointed to the corner. Fili was curled up in a blanket, his eyes closed in slumber. Tear tracks stained his cheeks and his fingers were tightly wound in the blanket.

"Dis?" Bofur whispered.

"She will be fine once she regains her strength," the dwarf king informed him. Then Thorin crossed to his nephew and crouched down by the slumbering child.

"Fili," he called softly, brushing the blonde hair back from the boy's face.

Fili's eyes blinked open slowly and focused on his uncle. He immediately launched himself forward and threw his arms around Thorin's neck. "Is Mother okay? Did she go away like Da?" he cried fearfully.

"Your mother is fine, Fili," Thorin assured him. "I promise you, and so is your baby brother." He felt his heir freeze in his arms.

"Brother?" the child questioned.

"Yes," Thorin smiled, pulling back so he could look into Fili's face. "You have a little brother waiting for you at home. Let's thank Mr. Bofur and then I will take you home and introduce you to him."

Fili stepped away from Thorin and hurried to the toymaker, wrapping his arms around Bofur's legs. "Thank you for letting me stay with you today, Mr. Bofur," he told him.

"You are mighty welcome," the dark-haired dwarf smiled as he ruffled the child's hair. "Go see your mother and meet your new brother, lad. Those dwarf warriors we painted will be dry the next time you visit and you can choose the one you want since you did help make them."

Fili's blue eyes sparkled happily. "Thank you, Mr. Bofur!" He turned back to his uncle. "Can we go see Mother now?"

Thorin chuckled and scooped the boy into his arms. "Yes, we can go now. Thank you, Bofur."

"Anytime, Thorin," the other dwarf smiled.

The dwarf king hurried quickly back toward his sister's house eager to check on Dis and Kili. Fili yawned sleepily in his arms, but seemed determined to stay awake to see his mother. As soon as Thorin entered the bedroom, Fili struggled to get down from his arms. He ran to the bed and crawled up beside Dis, burrowing into her side. Thorin didn't have the heart to stop him; Fili had been afraid of losing his mother today.

Dis woke and immediately knew who was beside her. "Fili, my love," she smiled, "I hear you spent the day with Mr. Bofur."

"Yes, I helped him make dwarf warriors. I washed his paint brushes for him," the child stated proudly.

"I'm sure you were a very good helper," Dis told her son weakly.

"Mother, are you okay?" Fili asked with concern as he peered anxiously into her face.

"Yes, love, I'm fine. I still don't have my strength back from being sick, and it was hard work bringing your baby brother into the world." She sagged back against her pillows, impatient with her lack of strength.

"Where is my brother?" Fili asked as he glanced eagerly around the room.

Thorin retrieved the baby from his hand-carved wooden cradle in the corner by the fireplace and handed him carefully to Dis.

"Fili," she smiled tiredly, "this is your baby brother, Kili."

Fili's blue eyes grew big and round as he studied the tiny babe in his mother's arms. "He's so small," he breathed. "Are you sure he's a dwarf?"

Both Thorin and Dis laughed. "I'm very sure, Fili," his mother told him. "Kili will grow to be big and strong like Uncle Thorin one day."

Thorin sat on the edge of the bed and Fili crawled over to sit in his lap. "Can Kili play with me?" he asked.

"Not yet," Thorin explained. "Kili has some growing to do first."

Fili yawned. "Maybe he can play tomorrow," he said drowsily as he snuggled against Thorin's chest.

The dwarf king chuckled and ran a hand over the child's blonde hair. "Let's get you tucked into bed. It's been a long day." He stood and lifted Fili. "I'll be back once I get him settled."

It didn't take long to get Fili changed into his nightclothes and tucked under his covers with his stuffed oliphant wrapped tightly in his arms. "G'night, Uncle," he murmured sleepily.

"Goodnight, Fili," Thorin smiled as he brushed a kiss to the child's forehead. Shutting the door behind him, Thorin returned to his sister's room. She was nearly asleep with Kili in her arms. The baby began to fret, and and she settled him against her shoulder. Dis was frustrated with herself. Due to her illness and malnourishment, she was as yet unable to nurse her son.

Thorin quickly heated milk over the fire and then handed the bottle to his sister after checking to ensure it wasn't too hot. This time Kili needed no coaxing. He suckled greedily.

"Stay with us for a bit," Dis asked her brother, nodding toward the bed beside her.

Thorin kicked off his boots and stretched out next to her, leaning back against the headboard. "Kili is a beautiful child, Dis," he told his sister.

She looked down at the greedy babe in her arms. "With his father's eyes," she sighed, swallowing hard around the lump in her throat.

"I still wish every day that it had been me instead of him," Thorin growled into the quiet of the room, surprising both himself and his sister with his words.

He heard Dis' sharp gasp and immediately wished he'd kept his words to himself.

"Thorin," she began hesitantly.

He didn't let her finish whatever it was she was going to say. "Had he not been there that day, Fili and Kili would have their father and you would have your husband. He followed me into battle."

"Were you the one who drew the weapon that killed him?" she hissed. "Did you force him at sword point to follow you?" Her words were laced with fury. Kili could sense his mother's distress and began to cry. She changed the tone of her voice and continued. "Ehren chose to follow you; he chose that path! He wanted Fili to grow up safely. That's why he did what he did, and he gave his life for an honorable reason. Stop wallowing in guilt, Thorin. No one blames you, but you."

Thorin stared at her in shock for a moment before he ran a shaky hand over his face. His heart pounded in his chest as he pondered his sister's words. Was she right? Was he really absolved of guilt in Ehren's death?

"Could you burp Kili for me and put him to bed?" Dis asked softly, her strength rapidly fading.

Thorn took his youngest nephew in his arms and brushed a kiss in his dark hair before settling him against his shoulder and rubbing his back. The baby delivered a loud belch before he snuggled against his uncle's warmth. Thorin chuckled and carried the baby to his cradle, tucking him in beneath the handmade blankets. Then he returned to his sister's side. She was already sleeping. Gently, he pulled the blankets up higher around her shoulders.

Dis looked so tired and worn that it scared him. She didn't deserve the heavy blows life and handed her. None of the dwarves of Erebor deserved the cruelties they'd been forced to endure. Resolutely, Thorin squared his shoulders. Dwarves like Ehren had not died in vain to give their families a better life. He swore then and there with thoughts of Dis, Fili, and Kili filling his mind, that one day he would reclaim Erebor. His sister and her boys would want for nothing; they would have everything in life that they deserved. He would see to it.

The End

Author's Note: Thank you so much for reading. I had fun with this story. I'm not sure what I'm going to write next. I have a Fili/Sigrid story idea as well as a few one-shots floating around in my brain. I guess it depends on which idea gets fully developed first.