A/N: This is written a little different than my usual style, and I'm not sure how much I really like it. Anyway, let me know what you guys think! I know I probably shouldn't be starting something new on here, but I'm beginning to wrap up Bleeding Out and I actually have this written on paper until Beorn's house, so hopefully -fingers crossed- there will be semi-regular updates.
Bilbo had sensed something off about the two younger members of the company ever since they'd show up at his doorstep. He didn't know what it was, just that it was something… dangerous.
He thought maybe it was their ferocity in battle, their training that they seemed to have been subjected to their entire lives, but that couldn't have been it, because Dwalin of all the dwarves would have given off the strongest vibe.
The first hint had come after the rowdy dinner in his house. Thorin had been explaining the quest, and an argument had begun over whether or not Bilbo was a suitable burglar (which he most certainly was not). Kili's eyes had flashed yellow, something Bilbo had thought was just a trick of the light at the time. Fili had pulled his brother backwards, to sit down hard onto the wooden chair, where the blonde proceeded to keep his hand on his brother's chest, murmuring something that made Kili close his eyes and breathe deeply for the rest of the argument.
He'd thought that maybe the boy had a tendency for nervousness, that he would get overexcited and perhaps faint, but that proved wrong as soon as they'd begun tossing his dishware around the house. Those two were anything but weak-hearted.
The second time it happened, Kili and Fili were discussing orcs with him, clearly scaring him for the fun of it. Thorin had scolded them none too gently, and as hurt expressions mixed with more than a little chagrin passed over their features, golden eyes reflected the fire for a brief moment. In the next instant, blue and brown irises stared into his with silent apologies and Bilbo blinked rapidly, wondering if he was seeing things.
But then the troll battle occurred, and he knew he wasn't unfounded in his wonderings. When the brothers told him the ponies were missing, he sensed panic and something else being barely held at bay as they glanced back and forth, communicating in the way they somehow did without words.
Bilbo supposed sending him after the stolen animals wasn't the worst idea in the world, he was supposed to be the burglar after all, and if he couldn't free a couple ponies from some slow and stupid trolls, how would he ever face a dragon?
The plan backfired however, and as he was being dangled upside down by a troll, covering snot, he sent a quick prayer to whoever was listening that the dwarves would arrive and save his sorry hide. Luckily, Kili leapt out just in time, saving him from certain death. The company rushed from the tree-line soon after, battling the trolls the best they could.
The fight was going well until Bilbo found himself once again held captive, his arms and legs splayed in the air.
"Bilbo!" he heard Kili shout, followed by a loud growl that Bilbo found strange coming from the throat of the young dwarf.
"Kili, no!" Thorin pulled him back, earning himself a murderous glare as the dwarf debated between obeying his king and saving the hobbit.
"Throw down your arms, or we'll tear his off!" one of the trolls bellowed, and reluctantly the dwarves allowed themselves to be taken and thrown into sacks.
Bilbo was trussed up next to Fili, who was snarling softly as he attempted to right himself. Kili looked as if he was only half aware of what was happening around him, almost like he was focused on something else.
The hobbit managed to stall the situation for as long as he could once he caught the sight of Gandalf out of the corner of his eye, no thanks to Kili, who finally snapped out of it a bit when Thorin kicked him in the back.
Finally, the trolls were turned to stone, and Gandalf went to free the dwarves from the spit first.
Balin quickly stopped his work, asking in a rush, "Could you please be so kind as to release Kili and Fili before the rest of us? Much appreciated."
Dwalin grumbled but didn't argue, and understanding blossomed on Gandalf's face as he hurried to the brothers, pulling them from the pile as Thorin gave him a grateful smile.
As soon as Fili was released, he rushed to his sibling, undoing the ties at the top of the cloth with shaking fingers. Gandalf left them to their own devices as soon as they were free, removing the dwarves from the spit before they managed to accidentally throw themselves on the fire.
Bilbo found the whole situation strange, but as Fili helped a panicked Kili to his feet and back towards the edge of the forest, the hobbit wondered if the dark-haired dwarf was severely claustrophobic.
He would have thought that was ironic for a dwarf, but he couldn't say much, seeing as he was a Baggins going out on an adventure.
Even though Bilbo wanted to give them some space, he couldn't help but watch them out of the corner of his eye as the harsh whispers being exchanged between them reached his ears.
"Kili, just breathe, brother. It's over, we're all fine. Just pull it back in-"
"I'm trying!" Kili's voice was strangled as he let the blonde wrap a hand around the back of his neck and bring their foreheads together until they were touching.
Blue eyes stared into brown until Bilbo realized with a start that the gold was back, reflecting strangely in the darkness of the tree cover. This was definitely not a trick of the light.
"Fili, I can't, I can't-" Kili's breath hissed out from between his teeth as he suddenly doubled over, pressing his hands against his stomach as he pulled away from his brother.
The golden-haired dwarf hauled him close again, forcing him upright to lock gazes again, "Stay with me," he commanded, but the brunette didn't seem to be paying attention anymore.
He was randomly twitching, parts of his body spasming as a look of intense concentration passed over both of the brother's faces.
"Kili, you have to stop. I need you to get control, right now. Because else we're both going to shift, I won't be able to stop myself-" Fili stiffened, his words getting caught in his throat, "Kili, please!"
The brunette finally met his brother's eyes again, pain reflected in his expression. With a shaky exhale that sounded more animal than dwarf, Kili finally stilled, the glow from his eyes fading as he calmed. Fili followed a moment later. He had his eyes closed until Kili tentatively asked, "Fili?" and the other dwarf gave a weak smile.
By the time Thorin called the brothers over to check out the troll cave, they were back to normal, with Kili offering up a wide, reassuring grin to his brother and Thorin; a tentative, reserved expression quickly slid into place when he caught Bilbo watching.
Bilbo planned to corner the brothers and ask them exactly what that was all about at the soonest chance, but he was too curious about the cave to risk not being able to see it. Once inside, Gandalf cornered him instead, handing him a small blade that made the perfect sword for him.
He didn't want it, by the Green Lady, he didn't even want to be on this journey at all, but the wizard insisted he take it. He wasn't given the opportunity to protest too much however, because in the next instant, Thorin was calling for all to take up arms, that there was something heading through the trees towards them.
It turned out only to be the brown wizard that Gandalf had been telling them about a few days prior. Radagast surely knew how to make an entrance, screaming about thieves and murder as he rushed towards them on a sleigh pulled by rabbits.
He and Gandalf went out of earshot to discuss something of import, while the rest of the company milled around in the clearing. There was small talk amongst them for a few minutes: Thorin and Dwalin went over the path they thought they should continue along next with Balin, Dori was fussing over Ori while Nori tried to get him to stop, Gloin was helping Oin get his herbs reorganized in his pack, Kili and Fili were checking over their weapons, and Bofur was trying to engage his cousin in conversation with the help of his brother.
They had all shifted back into a comfortable atmosphere, letting their guard down slightly after the false alarm when a howl cut through the clearing.
Bilbo could feel Fili straighten next to him as he heard himself ask, "Was that a wolf?"
"No, no that was no a wolf," Bofur answered slowly, fear clear in his tone.
A split second later, a warg pounced into the clearing. Thorin made quick work of it, slicing through the creatures neck as if it were made of butter instead of muscle.
"Kili, shoot it!" Thorin shouted, and the young dwarf complied, stopping the beast in its tracks even as Dwalin swung his hammer towards its head.
A quick discussion played out, between Thorin and the wizards. Bilbo didn't understand what was going on, he didn't understand why they were being hunted, what was going on, but when Radagast offered to lead the orcs away, he was ready to run.
They raced out from the tree line just after the brown wizard, ducking behind rocks to stay hidden. Terror exuded from Bilbo's every pore, but he managed to keep up, praying that they lived through this.
Finally, the inevitable happened. A warg caught their scent, and its orc rider lead the creature along the ridges, scouring the shadows for any sign of the dwarves.
Thorin motioned to the young brunette next to him, and Kili stepped out from their hiding spot, letting an arrow loose. It soared through the air, slamming into the orcs shoulder. The creature let out a squeal, one that was intensified as another projectile was launched into the chest of the warg.
Both mount and rider tumbled over the side of the rock formation, landing in the perfect position for Dwalin and Bifur to move in for the kill.
And even though Bilbo thought they did a brilliant job of crushing the thing's windpipe or whatever they were doing, it still made a terrible amount of noise, drawing every enemy for miles.
Thorin was yelling for them to run then, and they'd sprinted for as long as they'd been able before Fili shouted that they were surrounded.
Bilbo's heart was in his throat, and all he could focus on was the fact that Gandalf wasn't there. Why had he abandoned them in their time of need? Where in Middle Earth had he gone that was so much more important than saving the company?
Almost as if the wizard had heard what the hobbit was thinking, Gandalf cried, "This way, you fools!"
He motioned for them to all follow, and without a second of hesitation, Bilbo raced towards the voice, sliding down into the cool, dark cave.
Everyone was inside except Thorin, who was defending the entrance; Kili, who was still shooting orc after orc; and Fili who was assumedly protecting his brother's back.
"Kili, run!" Thorin bellowed, and the brunette finally obeyed, letting the blonde race down the rock slope first.
The two siblings ended up in a heap on the floor, while the king without his mountain landed gracefully, staring down at the two as if he wasn't sure what he was going to do with them.
There was the sound of a war horn above their heads, and an orc tumbled towards them. A quick prod with Gandalf's staff showed the enemy to be dead, and when Thorin examined the body, he threw an arrow head to the side, disgusted.
"Elves," he spat.
The king was glaring at the wizard and about to speak when Dwalin called, "There is a path, but I cannot see where it leads! Do we follow it or not?"
"Follow it of course!" came Bofur's quick response, but before anyone could move, Thorin held a hand up.
"We wait. Give us a moment to recover."
The dwarves had given each other confused looks, and Bilbo couldn't deny that he joined them, when he caught sight of the pair that had fallen into the cave last.
They were hunched up against a wall, Fili sitting carefully next to his brother as if he were afraid to touch him. A soft groan escaped his lips as his fingers slowly realigned themselves. How the dwarf was managing to relocate them on his own, Bilbo wasn't sure, but he knew then that it had to have been some kind of magic.
When his gaze shifted to the brunette, the hobbit involuntarily shuddered.
"Kili?" he asked, concern marring his tone as he took in the twisted mess that was the dwarf's left shoulder and arm.
The dark-haired dwarf's eyes were screwed shut as he pressed his back against solid rock behind him. There was something wrong with his mouth as well; his jaw was clenched strangely and sharp canines stuck out over his lower lip, much larger than Bilbo remembered them to be.
A soft wolfish whine worked its way up Kili's throat, startling the hobbit with how foreign it sounded. Even as he watched, the dwarf's other shoulder popped out of place, and he bit down with his strange teeth strongly enough to draw blood.
"What's wrong with them?" Bilbo had asked, his horror clear.
Fili flinched at the tone, but ignored him, sighing in relief as all his fingers moved back to normal.
"Kili…"the blonde's voice conveyed exasperation and worry all at once.
"No, no, I'm okay, I'm not… I'm not going to, it just… hurts," he swallowed convulsively as his body gradually began to look normal again.
"Can you walk?" Thorin asked, his anxiety to move on conveyed in his expression.
"We're fine," Fili accepted Gloin's hand as it was offered to him, but Kili batted Ori's away, climbing to his feet with an irritated air to his movements.
"What… what happened-" the hobbit began to question, but Gandalf stopped him.
"Bilbo, my dear fellow, I would hold your tongue about this topic until you can ask the young ones in private. This is not the best time."
He'd taken the old man's advice, even though curiosity was eating away at him.
The closer they had moved towards Rivendale, the more magic that Bilbo had felt. Gandalf assured him that it was normal, but it was like nothing he'd ever experienced before… maybe he wouldn't hate this journey as much as he'd thought he was going to.
The elves rushed in on their horses, throwing the dwarves on the defensive, but soon they were eating dinner, all potential arguments put on hold. There was relative peace at first, except for the companies grumblings over the lack of meat. Of course, they couldn't seem to get through a meal without bursting into song and generally making a mess, but Bilbo had come to expect that by now.
They soon retired to a common area, where the dwarves were set to rest while Bilbo, Thorin, Balin and Gandalf went to receive help with the map they could not read. The meeting with Elrond went relatively well, at least in Bilbo's perspective. When they had returned, Thorin explained their plan, before placing Fili on first watch. They would need to all be well restored for the coming days.
Kili had complained at first, about not being awake with his brother, but as soon as his bed roll was set up, the brunette had passed out. He was the first asleep, much to the amusement of the rest of the company as they settled down for the night.
Finally, it was just Bilbo and Fili awake.
He hadn't been able to sleep with all the questions swirling through his mind. He'd put the events of the past fortnight in order, trying to figure out the riddle of the brothers, but he was unable to come up with a solutions that made any sense.
After another few heartbeats, he sat up, moving to towards the blonde as quietly as he could until he was directly next to the dwarf.
"Couldn't sleep?" Fili asked with a smile.
"Something like that," Bilbo answered.
They rested in comfortable silence for a moment before he blurted, "So which one of you is older? You or Kili?"
The hobbit figured that the brunette was the younger of the pair from the way the other protected him.
"I am, by five years, and don't let my brother tell you otherwise."
They fell back into quiet before Fili spoke up, "I suppose you want to know what happened to Kili and I today."
It wasn't a question, but Bilbo nodded anyway.
"Have you heard any of the legends surrounding the dwarves descended from the line of Durin?"
The hobbit thought back through some of his history books, vaguely recalling a few myths that he couldn't remember the details of, "Sort of."
"Well, there's one in specific that is of import here. The one I'm referring to involves shape-shifters, the kings that could turn into wolves."
"Alright, but I don't see how that's relevant…"
"The story isn't a legend, Master Baggins. Select members of the line have been gifted with this ability. We're what one would call werewolves," he spoke so bluntly it took Bilbo a minute to understand.
"You and your brother were… shifting into wolves?"
Fili nodded his head to affirm the hobbit's inquiry.
"… So you're from the line of Durin? Thorin's line? Are you his sons?!"
Fili snorted, "No. We're his nephew's… if we were his sons, there would be more gray in his hair, trust me on this."
"Are you his heirs?"
"Kili and I both are, yes."
"Does that make… Thorin a werewolf?"
"I never would have guessed. He so in control, where you two are…" Bilbo trailed off, realizing what he was saying.
Fili didn't seem offended however, "He has lived with this longer than we have. Dwarves of Durin's line usually discover this ability on their 75th birthday. I've had this… affliction for 7 years, but it usually takes anywhere between 10-25 years to master it. Thorin's been training for over a 100 years."
"What about Kili? He's only been a werewolf for two years then, correct?"
For reasons Bilbo didn't understand, Fili sobered, his open and helpful expression turning closed off.
"No master hobbit… my brother is a different story."
A/N: Comments and favorites much appreciated! Thank you! :)