Author's Note/Disclaimer: I own nothing (sadly). I don't ship Kiliel but my muse does (apparently). And for Kili's age, I figure that if he's about 18 in human years at Dwarvish age 77, then that's an approximate 20:80 or 1/4 ratio, which means in the opening scene he's about 5 in human years. So...yeah. Enjoy, and do review!

Think of the presents you've brought;

Any merry little thought.

"Uncle Thorin, Uncle Thorin!" Kili gleefully ran to his uncle in the doorway, wrapping small arms around the older dwarf's thick leg and beaming up at him.

Thorin leaned down with a smile and tickled Kili's chin. "Still trying for that beard of yours, I see."

"Mhm, Mother thinks it should come any day now," Kili nodded importantly. "It is my birthday, you know."

"It is?" Uncle raised a solemn eyebrow. "Are you sure?"

"Well, I thought it was..." Then he saw the sparkle in Uncle's eyes. "Of course it's my birthday. I'm twenty today."

"Ah, yes, I'd almost forgotten. But aren't you going to invite me in, master Kili?"

Kili detached himself from Uncle's leg and seized his hand instead, dragging him further into the dwelling. "Guess what Fili gave me, Uncle Thorin! Look at these!" Fumbling through his pockets, he finally found what he was looking for. Out came his clenched fist, unfolding to reveal two engraved silver clasps. "Mother says I should start wearing braids now," he confided, a bit regretfully; they'd be such a bother to do every morning.

"And your mother is right," Uncle said. "As she is much of the time."

"But not all the time? Or was that a slip of the tongue, brother?" Mother walked briskly in, a warm smile on her face that belied the warning tone of her voice.

"A slip, of course, Dis. Your mother is always right, Kili. Remember that now." Then Uncle chuckled and embraced Mother.

"Where'd Fili go off to? I'd hoped he'd be here when I gave young Kili here my present."

"I know, I know!" Kili bounced up and down. "Can I call him, Mother?"

"No need, I'm right here, brother." Fili swung the door shut behind him. "Now, what's all the excitement about?"

"Uncle Thorin's giving me my birthday present!" Kili grinned expectantly.

Think of Christmas, think of snow.

"Ah yes, the present. Now where did I put that..."

Kili sighed. "You left it outside, I saw it. I'm not ten anymore, you know."

"And that makes you such a sage," Fili laughed. "Next thing you know, you'll want Master Balin's place as counselor, won't you?"

"Not for all the gold in–er, not for anything. Too many books." Kili shuddered. "May I go get it, Uncle Thorin? Please?"

Think of sleigh bells, here we go

Like reindeer in the sky!

Uncle dipped his head permissively, and Kili ran for the door. In a moment he had thrown it open and collapsed on his knees in front of the small bow and full quiver leaning against the frame. He couldn't breathe. "It–it's perfect. Oh, Uncle, it's perfect!" Air rushed back into his lungs, and he shouted for Mother and Fili. "Look, look, see what Uncle Thorin brought me?"

His family hurried out, Uncle and Fili with grins broadening on their faces and Mother with a half-grin, half-glare on her face. "Thorin, you shouldn't have. And I'm only partially joking," she added sharply as Uncle opened his mouth.

"Ah, let the lad enjoy his birthday, sister. It's time he had a weapon anyhow, and you've seen how he is with the sword. At the least he can't harm himself with a bow."

Anxious to persuade Mother, Kili piped up, "He's right. See, I still have the bruise from last time I tried training with Mister Dwalin." He pushed up his sleeve to show her the yellow and green splashed across his right forearm. "The bow won't bruise me."

Mother sighed. "I suppose you're right, Kili. Very well, you may try the bow. But may Mahal preserve you if your uncle turns out to be wrong."

Kili interrupted her with a sharp "Ow!" Those arrows were a lot sharper than they looked.

But he was too happy to care.

You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

Think of the happiest things;

That's the way to get your wings.

Kili paced up and down, back and forth outside his mother's closed door. He could hear her voice, rich and melodic but more high-pitched than normal. Then Uncle Thorin's bass rumble would cut in, comforting, coaxing. If only the blasted door weren't there to muffle the discussion!

"Mahal, aren't you ever going to settle down, brother? You're making me nervous." Fili's heavy hand descended on Kili's shoulder.

"This is the most important, most momentous moment of my life and you're telling me to settle down?"

"It's entirely possible, Kee. Did you see me wrought up like this when Uncle asked Mother if I could go?" Fili raised one eyebrow.

"No, because you knew she'd likely agree. You're five years older, Uncle's heir, and not at all reckless as far as she knows. Now stop wasting your breath. You and I both know I can't sit still tonight."

Kili began pacing again, up and down, back and forth. "Uncle told us tales of the Mountain ever since we were younglings. Surely Mother would not take such a chance away. Would she?"

Fili chuckled. "She still thinks you're reckless, you know. That escapade with Bombur's roast duck last week didn't help your cause any, either."

Ducking his head, Kili muttered, "Nori dared me to, wasn't my fault. Besides, you bet on me! I couldn't let you lose your money now, could I?"

He sidestepped Fili's hand, outstretched to ruffle his hair, and continued his march. "If Mother lets me go, I promise I'll never touch Bombur's food again. Ever. Even if it means you lose all your gold," he added, attempting a grin.

The door's sudden opening cut off Fili's retort. Kili whirled around to face his uncle and mother, his hopeful glance darting from one to the other.

Uncle Thorin clapped him on the shoulder before speaking, his voice rumbling triumphantly straight into Kili's pounding heart.

"Lad, you're going to Erebor."

Look, you're rising off the floor,

No wonder how or why!

You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

Soon you'll zoom all around the room;

All it takes is faith and trust.

Oh Mahal, the pain, the pain. He didn't think he could bear it much longer. Every moment it doubled in intensity and he doubled over in agony. Falling off the bed onto a hard wooden floor after fending off an orc hadn't helped much, either.

But the orc was gone now. All the orcs were gone. At least, he didn't hear the screams of the bargeman's daughters anymore. He heard a vaguely familiar voice command, "Tauriel, come." Tauriel. Who was Tauriel–then the pain ratcheted up again and all coherent thoughts fled.

Only the pain was left.

Through the cloudy haze filling his vision he saw movement, felt more than saw a willowy figure halt in the doorway before turning on its heel and striding towards him. Within an instant strong arms were lifting him up and away, and his leg burned and a scream ripped from his throat as hands pinned him down on his back.

Cool air abruptly touched his wound, and he gasped as if one of those fish were flopping down his front. But the reprieve lasted only a moment, and the fire raged once more.

Was this what the Dwarves of Erebor felt, those who could not escape the dragon?

Fingers probed at his leg, rubbing and prodding. A rhythmic chanting broke through the dull roar in his ears: Elvish words. In a familiar voice.

Slowly his eyes blinked open.

But the thing that's a positive must

Is a little bit of starry dust.

It was the fiery Elf captain, the one who loved starlight. Indeed, she seemed to radiate the silver beams she called precious and pure. And in that moment, as the pain slowly receded, he understood her meaning.

The light was not cold or remote, not now. Now it was peace, and beauty, and all things high and ancient as he was low and unbelievably young, and this could not be the same Elf who turned his taunts back on him. It could not be. But he had to know.


The figure shook its head and murmured, "Lie still."

Too gentle, too soft. "No, you cannot be her. . . . She is far away; she, she is far, far away from me. She walks–in starlight in another world. . . . It was just a dream." And then, because he had to know: "Do you think she could have loved me?"

Something brushed his hand, almost tenderly, and through the mist and the fog and the ache all over his body he knew.

The dust is a positive must.

When there's a smile in your heart,

There's no better time to start.

He felt Fili's hand fumblingly ruffle his hair. "Always–so reckless, little brother. Could you not have thought–for one moment? I was ready to kill–that orc, you know."

Kili coughed (laughing with two arrows in his stomach amounted to little more). "I did think. I had to make sure–he didn't try the feint to your left–that Dwalin always caught you on. It worked, didn't it?"

Fili's sigh came out a bit raspier than usual thanks to the slash across his throat–not deadly, but painful. "Dwalin always told you to–keep your guard up. Can't you remember–one little thing in battle?"

"Apparently not." Another cough. "But you'll have to excuse me–it was my first battle after all."

He knew it was their last, but he kept smiling. Kept strong for his brother whom he knew was keeping strong and smiling for him.

Think of all the joy you'll find

When you leave the world behind

The battlefield was so quiet now. Just a few moments ago it had roared with the cries of orcs and Elves and Men and Dwarves. Now it was just the brothers and the dead–of course, in a few moments more there would be no such distinction.

At least he'd still be with Fili. And, "We'll see Father again, you know."

Fili shifted behind him, moaning as his lacerated limbs objected to the motion. "Aye, that we will. You'll like him."

"I should hope so." Kili coughed again. "It'd be–terrible if we went through–all this trouble to meet him and then–I didn't even get along with him."

And bid your cares good-bye—

Silence fell again, stretching far too long for Kili's liking, and he abruptly reached out gasping, "Fee?"

A clammy hand brushed his own and closed on it. "I'm here, little brother."

"Don't go without me, Fee." His voice was so small.

"I won't."

He suddenly shuddered, wracked with a terrible fiery agony, but only for a moment. Then a grey cloud stole over his vision and brought a cooling peace with it, and he was conscious only of his brother's hand around his. Soon, though, even that consciousness flitted away, and then–

You can fly! You can fly!

He could fly.