A/N: I actually started this awhile ago, before all the FEELS of the third movie...but I thought I'd finish it up. It's almost fluffier than anything I've ever done, with just a sprinkle of angst.
"Kili, please!" Fili hissed the words through his teeth, the most intimidating whisper he could muster. Any louder and Mother would surely hear them from where she was tending the garden, a few yards away.
In answer, his little brother merely chuckled and scrambled higher up the tree. "I can prolly see Erebor from here, Fee!"
Fili knew that seven-year-olds could be trying—he'd been one, a short five years ago—but Kili took it to another level. "If you don't climb down, you'll be hurt! And in trouble!" A pause, then—"I should tell mother."
Kili's eyes widened imploringly.
Fili sighed. "Fine. But don't do it again! You know better—"
"I promise." Kili said seriously, but a moment later he was swinging from a high branch, practically crowing with glee. "Bet you can't do this!"
There was nothing for it. Honor, Uncle Thorin always said, and Fili's was presently being impugned. He set his jaw, wrapped his hands around the lowest branch, and started to climb.
The tree creaked threateningly beneath their combined weight, and Fili toyed with the thought that this had possibly been a bad idea.
"See? I did it," he said, trying to sound both triumphant and bored, as a means of dissuading Kili from dragging it out.
No such luck. "Not as high as me!" Kili retorted, and oh, Mahal. Little brothers. Fili ground his teeth and batted at his brother's dangling boots.
"Come on! We're going to break—"
As if in answer, there was a sharp snap, and the branch from which Kili was hanging cracked. Fili heard his brother cry out, and he let go of his own hold with one hand to close his fingers tightly around Kili's wrist.
It was at that choice moment that their mother came rushing in at the sound of the commotion, and stood surveying her sons—one dangling from a branch, the other from his brother's hand—with an expression that would have struck fear in the heart of the most stout-hearted dwarves.
"By Aule," said Dis, her voice almost a growl. "This is the last time I will climb a tree for either of you. Do you understand?"
"They're in trouble," Dis told him, in a hushed tone, and Thorin offered a silent prayer that she would just leave it at that, and feed him. But of course, she didn't.
"I want you to speak with them," his sister said, folding her arms across her chest with a look that did not bode well for any possible escape. "I can't have them breaking their necks climbing trees, of all things. I've scolded, but it doesn't seem to do any good."
Thorin pulled at his pipe. "How did they get down?"
His sister's jaw clenched. "I climbed up and got them." Thorin would have laughed, at that, but he was fairly certain that doing so would have resulted in his immediate demise.
He coughed gruffly instead and frowned. "Very well. Where are they?"
"In the bedroom."
Thorin hesitated, wondering if there was anything else he could say, some excuse, which would get him out of this. He was the king, the leader of their people—and ordinarily he would have been given the best seat in any dwarrow home and left undisturbed. But in his sister's house? He knew better than to ask for such distinction.
"Stop shirking and get in there," snapped Dis, and Thorin went in with a glare over his shoulder.
They were sitting on their mother's carved oak chest, boots hanging above the floor. Blue eyes and brown widened at his entrance.
"Uncle!" Kili cried, dimples beginning to show, but his brother nudged him.
Thorin swallowed hard and drew his eyebrows together, trying to look grave. It was harder than usual. They were so very small.
"Your mother tells me that you have caused much mischief this day," he said grimly, and Fili looked down, ashamed.
"It was just a tree," muttered Kili rebelliously, and Thorin ground his teeth to keep the smile from his lips.
"You could have been hurt," he growled, with an imposing look, and Kili's chin wobbled with the onset of tears.
Thorin backed away. How could Dis have done this to him? Left him alone to reprimand her children, and now, by the Maker, they were going to cry—
He laid a hand on Kili's shoulder, but it did no good—his younger nephew burrowed his face in Fili's shoulder and started to sob. Had Thorin but known, Dis was repressing a laugh on the other side of the door.
"Sit up," Fili hissed in Kili's ear—but all the same, one small hand was gently stroking his brother's hair. "Look at Uncle when he speaks to you."
Sniffling, Kili looked up, meeting Thorin's gaze with glistening dark eyes. "I just wanted to see Erebor," he murmured, and Thorin felt his heart clench.
"Come here," he said, opening his arms, and they jumped off the chest, lunging for him.
"You're not angry?" Fili asked, muffled in his collar, and Thorin shook his head.
"I'm not. But don't tell your mother."
Kili laughed at that. "We won't," he whispered, eyes sparkling, and Thorin felt his own smile widen in return.
They were so small, so precious, and they were his as well as their mother's. And he wished, then, more than anything, that they were all he would ever need.