Because seriously, how has this not been done yet?!
Fair warning—this was planned and written before Desolation came out.
desiderium: an ardent longing, as for something lost
Near the beginning, Kíli is quite proud of himself for coming up with this scheme in the first place, even if it doesn't quite go as he thought it would.
(Later on, of course, he regrets ever dragging the both of them into this mess.)
They left Beorn's halls a few days ago, have been traveling on borrowed ponies through relative safety...and this evening, they finally arrive on the outskirts of Mirkwood. Thorin calls for them to set up camp, and they've just about finished when a terrifyingly familiar, rabbit-drawn sleigh bursts from the nearby trees.
Radagast the Brown: Gandalf's occasionally reliable, arguably insane friend with (Kíli is fairly certain) bird excrement in his hair.
Do you have to be crazy to be a wizard? Kíli wonders vaguely as he seats himself on an empty patch of ground. Gandalf certainly has his moments, and if someone willingly gives himself the title "the Grey" or "the Brown" or "the White" (Gandalf claims Saruman is an incredibly powerful wizard, but Kíli has his doubts), surely there must be a few screws loose up there.
Radagast is cheerful enough, though, so Kíli has no concerns when Thorin allows him into their camp. The wizard offers them some sort of green food (which only Bilbo and Bifur accept) before sitting down with Gandalf, discussing Mahal-knows-what about wherever they're running off to.
Kíli's still miffed about that, to be honest. Gandalf promised to help them on their quest, but now he's abandoning them halfway through...what kind of wizard guide is he?
Thorin looks equally unimpressed, across the fire. Kíli resists the urge to laugh at the sour look on his face.
"Where do you think they're going, anyway?" Fíli asks, sitting down next to him and offering a bowl of stew. Kíli accepts it gratefully, sniffing at it briefly before digging in. "This is probably the most dangerous part of the quest, aside from the dragon—how could he have decided that this is a good idea?"
Kíli only shrugs, gazing contemplatively across the clearing at the wizards as they continue their quiet discussion. Radagast seems to be emptying his many pockets onto a nearby fallen log; various scraps of parchment mix with vials of strange potions and what look like small animal droppings before he apparently finds what he's looking for. Soon enough, everything seems to be back in his pockets, and he wanders off on slightly unsteady legs to find his rabbits something to eat.
Strange fellow...but Kíli figures that if Gandalf approves of him, he can't be all that bad. The wizard was the one who all but forced Bilbo onto them, after all...and the hobbit's been more than helpful over the course of the quest, even if they all had their doubts.
Gandalf soon disappears into the foliage as well, humming to himself and smoking his pipe. Kíli allows his eyes to sweep over the campsite once more, ready to dig back into his soup wholeheartedly—
When he happens to notice something bright and shining over on the log where the wizards were sitting.
He knows it's a bad idea. He knows that Thorin is always yelling at him for being too rash and getting himself into danger before fully realizing the consequences. He knows that more than a few of his mother's grey hairs are caused by his shenanigans, rather than Fíli's...but he can't help himself. After all, Radagast is a good guy, right? None of the things he carries around could possibly be dangerous.
There's no harm in taking a look.
On the pretense of bringing his bowl to the nearby stream to clean it, he straightens, stretches languidly, and makes his way over to the log. And with only one quick, furtive glance to make sure the others aren't watching, he snatches up the object—a vial—before tucking it safely into a pocket, continuing toward the stream as if nothing happened.
When he returns, it seems that he's succeeded; Radagast, certainly, doesn't notice that anything has gone missing as he feeds what look like enormous stalks of grass to his rabbits. Gandalf is surveying the Company, but he does that often, and Kíli does not worry himself over it. Fíli gives him a strange look (because really, it's practically impossible to hide anything from his older brother), but he resolves not to tell him anything until later, when nobody will overhear.
He wants to drink it. Why not, after all? It'd be stupid to steal a strange potion from a powerful—albeit slightly unstable—wizard and then do nothing with it. Maybe it'll turn him invisible. Or invincible! Or make him stronger or faster or give him better eyes—
(Or maybe, whispers a tiny, lighthearted voice that sounds suspiciously like Fíli, it'll make your beard grow faster—)
Kíli growls and elbows his brother lightly. Fíli gives him an odd look, because he hasn't actually said anything...but Kíli only grins sheepishly at him before returning to his pipe.
His anticipation grows steadily as night falls; eventually, the others all start heading to their bedrolls, for Thorin has promised them an early start tomorrow. Fíli lies down for the night a small distance away from the others, and Kíli follows quickly. Clearly, Fíli realizes he has something to tell him, if they're sleeping so far from the fire...and the faster he explains, the faster they can drink it and find out what it does.
"So what is it?" Fíli asks in a low tone once Kíli has settled in, raising his eyebrows as he glances around the camp, making sure no one is listening. "How much trouble will we be in once Thorin finds out?"
Kíli grins and pulls the flask from his pocket, holding it out to his brother. It's of average size, perhaps the length of his hand, and his fingers are already itching to uncork it and down half the contents. "Radagast left it on that log earlier. We should drink it, see what happens."
Fíli's eyebrows rise even higher as he accepts the potion, inspecting it carefully. "So we'll be in a lot of trouble," he says eventually, a smirk threatening to form on his lips. "If anyone asks, this is entirely your fault."
"Of course. When we've got fantastic superpowers, I'll be the one to thank!" Kíli grins, snatching the flask back from his brother and popping the cork off, eying the contents critically before swigging half of them. It burns down his throat, but there's nothing inherently terrible about the taste. "Right then, your turn."
Fíli grins back and grabs the vial, downing the rest of it before tucking it into a pocket. "Well, let's hope this doesn't make our heads explode or paralyze us or do anything else dangerous. Thorin will murder us. And then Mother will resurrect us, and kill us again when she finds out."
"Radagast is a good guy," Kíli stresses, even as a wave of exhaustion flows through him from nowhere, wiping out the excitement he was feeling only moments ago. "He wouldn't carry anything dangerous around with him, don't be stupid."
"Mm," Fíli says, though his eyes are suddenly half-lidded as well. "Well, I guess we'll find out when we wake up?"
Waking up, as it turns out, is a much more laborious task than Kíli ever remembers it being.
The sunlight, which should be streaming from the east, over the enormous trees of Mirkwood, is beating down on them as if in midday...but the weather is much chillier than Kíli would expect for early autumn. And, he realizes as he becomes more aware of his surroundings, he is no longer curled up inside a bedroll, and the air is not filled with the comforting sounds of the Company.
There are only his brother's soft snores to pierce the silence, and this may be more terrifying than anything else.
He opens his eyes as quickly as he can, trying to gauge the danger like he's been taught. There doesn't seem to be any threats in their immediate vicinity, because he knows orcs would never be this quiet...but there is definitely nobody here but him and Fíli.
And this clearing, surrounded on all sides by tall, cheerful evergreens, is definitely not where they fell asleep on the edges of Mirkwood.
He is alert and standing in an instant, drawing his sword in one fluid movement (at least his weapons are still with him) and glancing around, taking stock of his surroundings. The air is definitely chillier than it should be, and the sun's position is not that of early morning, but he does not know which way is east to guess at the exact time of day. There are mountains not far from their position, but they are utterly unfamiliar to him... After another careful inspection of the trees to ensure that they are well and truly alone, he turns to his brother, not daring to put away his sword as he attempts to shake Fíli awake.
At least they are here together...but where is here?
Fíli wakes much like he did, slowly and with much grumbling...but once he realizes the strangeness of the situation, he is on his feet as well, swords drawn and eyes taking in their surroundings.
"Where are we?" he asks Kíli, his voice sharp (clearly to cover the terror, but there's no fooling Kíli when he's been reading his brother for almost eighty years) as he takes in the unfamiliar trees. "Where are Thorin and the others?"
Kíli can only shrug helplessly, fear coursing through him as he realizes exactly how dire their situation is. They're separated from the rest of the Company, in a strange place, with no idea of how they got there or how they can get back—
"Let's try and get out of the trees," he suggests, peering at the edges of the clearing before gesturing to the trees that look the thinnest. "Figure out where we are. Or at least find someone who can tell us..."
Fíli grunts—really, they don't have any other options—and heads in that direction, jerking his head to tell Kíli to draw his bow rather than his sword.
Long-range, in case we hear someone coming. We'll need the advantage. Kíli can see the wisdom in that.
The forest, though, seems much larger than they originally thought, because they spend several hours wandering in that general direction before the sun begins to sink in the sky. They speak little, ears always attentive to the sounds of the forest around them. They could truly be anywhere, because the landscape is utterly unfamiliar to both of them. They've been traveling north, apparently, because the sun is now on their left; but this does little to ease their worries.
All Kíli can think is that Thorin is going to kill them once they find their way back.
The trees are not especially thick, but they are persistent, and Kíli's starting to feel jumpy as the shadows gradually grow longer. It's not yet dark, but it will be soon enough; if they don't find somewhere to bunk down for the night, try to figure out what to do—
"Come no closer, friends."
The light voice comes from the treetops several yards ahead; Kíli whips his bow up toward his best guess of its origin, squinting through the thick pine needles and branches to try and find the speaker. There's a slight rustle of cloth—the person likely positioning his own ranged weapon—before he speaks again:
"What is your business here?"
Business? Does someone watch over this place? A shiver goes down Kíli's spine as he remembers the tales of the talking trees, the great creatures who make the forest come alive. If they've awoken in those lands, they have no chance of fighting their way out; his mind speeds through the possibilities, the outcomes (mostly gruesome) of such a blunder—
"Answer me, or I will be forced to consider you hostile," the voice has turned harder, now, and Kíli adjusts his aim minutely as he gets a better gauge on where he is. He has no idea what to say in response, but Fíli steps forward slightly, not relaxing his defensive stance as he calls back—
"We would know to whom we are speaking."
His voice is harsh, and though Kíli can hear the well-masked tremor behind the words, he can also hear the command, the steel that makes others listen when Thorin speaks. Crown prince indeed. Lesser creatures have cowered before such a voice, and though Fíli is still young, he carries an aura of authority that simply makes people obey.
But there is only a huff of laughter in response, a few shaken branches—and then there is an elf with long blond hair, not fifteen feet away, his bow trained on Fíli.
Kíli curses and tightens his grip on his own weapon, adjusting his aim. Even if they outnumber him, an elf is an elf, and Kíli knows they are formidable fighters, even on their worst days—
"I do not want any trouble, Master Dwarves. Simply state your business and be on your way."
Kíli bares his teeth and only more assuredly places his feet, scanning the forest behind the elf for reinforcements. He dares not turn his head for even a moment to check the trees on either side, not when his brother is in such danger...
The elf does not look angered, though; if anything, he seems almost confused as he seems to study both of them. Fíli shifts, uncomfortable under the scrutiny but doing his best to hide it, and replies, "We are only wandering. If we have trespassed on the elves' land, we did not know it. Show us the way out, and we will bother you no longer."
A request for direction, disguised so as not to show weakness. Kíli is rather impressed by his brother's choice of words. (He shouldn't be, in all honesty. Fíli always excelled during Balin's diplomacy lessons.)
(Kíli...not so much.)
Instead of answering immediately, though, the elf only squints at them, the confusion on his face evident as he looks them up and down again. "You are not in elven territory, I can assure you. We are not far from Moria; is that where you hail from? It—"
"Moria?" The word is out of Kíli's mouth before he can stop himself, the incredulity obvious in his voice. Despite everything Thorin would have them believe, Kíli knows that elves are not stupid, knows that they follow nearly everything that happens in Middle Earth. So, why would this one—"Why would you think we're from that gods-forsaken place?"
The elf's frown deepens at that, and Kíli sees his brother shift slightly out of the corner of his eye. Clearly, there is something strange going on here—because nobody seems to be getting any of the answers they want or expect—but Kíli does not know what...
Suddenly, several more figures burst from the trees behind the elf, weapons drawn; Kíli swears again, doing his best to size up this new threat as they take positions. There are two more tall creatures—men, he thinks: one with dark hair, who strides quickly to stand next to the elf...and another, bulkier, who seems to take a defensive stance before several—
Fíli growls and takes another step forward—to cover Kíli, he knows, should they need to go on the offensive. His bow will be useless soon enough, and the precious seconds it would take to draw his sword could cost him his life—
There is no attack, though, even with the others' arrival; they all only seem to stand there, sizing each other up, waiting for something to happen.
(Even so, from what he knows of his uncle's dealings with elves...Kíli realizes that they will be lucky to make it out of here alive.)