A/N: A little thought that popped into my head. It demanded to be written.

Usual disclaimers apply.

Fili isn't supposed to be the one having nightmares. He's older, hopefully wiser. It is his right and his duty to protect Kili.

Fili isn't allowed to have nightmares.

But they come anyway, in the long dark nights spent huddled among tree-roots and mossy stones, under the shimmer of starlight. There is gold in these dreams—and it glitters brightly as it falls into the river of blood that always, always courses from the mountain.

There is so much blood—and he cannot find Kili—and Thorin's eyes are gold and there is blood on his hands. He cannot find Kili, and his throat is hoarse from shouting—

When he wakes his throat is still hoarse, and the eyes of the company are wide and wondering, but his brother is there.

His brother is always there.

Fili coughs and will not meet their eyes, because he is ashamed. It is a pitiable reflection on his courage, his steadfastness, and he curses himself in two languages as he tries to find his way back to quieter sleep.

Thorin says nothing, and Fili cannot read the heaviness behind his gaze. (But his eyes are not gold. Not yet).

Kili's hand is on his shoulder, his lips quirking in a smile that does not quite reach his eyes. "Will you make it, brother?"

He is worried. Fili bites his lips. Kili must not worry for him. It is not a younger brother's right.

"I am well," he promises. "It was nothing. A dream."

Kili does not ask what it was about, and for that Fili is grateful. He closes his eyes, and Kili returns to his own bedroll, close by, but his fingers clench in Fili's cloak, just as it was when they were small.

And Fili is a warrior, a prince, and he knows his duty, knows his brother must not worry—not for him—but he is glad to know that his brother is there.

His brother must always be there.

Sleep comes, and he wakes at last in grateful silence.