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Laughter sounded at one end of the fire, ending in an "Stop it!" from Fili, who punched his younger brother in the shoulder without hesitation.

"What? It's true!" Kili responded with a gleeful grin, rubbing his shoulder. "Besides, you were just agreeing with me a moment ago."

Mr. Baggins piped up, "Actually that's true. You were."

Fili turned to Bilbo, "Oi! Don't you start!That's enough now from the both of you!"

The mirth and chatter continued.

Thorin from his own corner observed their doings with an aloof air, the fire flickering over his dark features. Although it was not quite advisable to allow them to continue with such volume, he reasoned they were still close enough to the sleepy little Shire. Let the lads have their fun. They're young, and they may not have so many enjoyable moments ahead of them; let them enjoy themselves while they still can.

It had been interesting of course, watching how easily and readily they had bonded with the Hobbit. Already he seemed a close friend to them, and more than once Thorin had caught them at some mischief. He did not know who to blame more, Fili and Kili, or Mr. Baggins who had the sad weakness of allowing the troublesome fellows to pull him into whatever daring escapade they had planned.

He poked at the fire with a stick, the embers flaring to life and casting light over the campsite. Staring deep into the flames, watching them consume the dry wood like many hungry tongues, he pondered once more on the many troubles plaguing his mind. Almost unaware, he found himself becoming oblivious to the surroundings, as he inadvertently lost himself in the glow of the fire. The sounds of Mr. Baggins, Fili, Kili, and their conversation becoming almost like background music, lulling him into memory of a similar time in the seemingly distant past.

"Thorin! Thorin!" Dis was frantically searching for him.

Leaping down from whatever perch he had found and alighted next to Dis with the expertise of a Mountain Goat. Having been born and raised on the mountain he knew it as well as he knew his own face.

"What news Dis?" He could scarcely stop the grin from growing on his face at her obvious distress.

She slapped his shoulder.

"Where have you been?! I've been looking everywhere!"

He rubbed his arm and pretended to look hurt. "Why sister, what have I done to anger you so?" However that troublesome grin betrayed him to her.

"Don't take that tone with me! I haven't time to help you learn manners. It's Frerin again!" Her face was full of dismay.

Thorin's grin fell, "What has he done now?"

"He's shooting attendants with those nasty trick arrows! And Lord Bethrozel is going to be passing by for his monthly inspection. You know Frerin won't let up such a chance. And if father hears..." She waved her hand in a manner indicating certain doom.

If Thorin had attempted to look unconcerned with Frerin's doings earlier, he failed miserably now. Thrain son of Thror, heir of Durin and King Under the Mountain had earned a fearsome reputation for being quite strict with his children. Both Dis and Thorin understood well what was at risk.

"Take me to him. I'll deal with it." Thorin said, attempting to sound like the responsible one of the trio.

"Come on then! And hurry!" Dis took off, speeding over the stone pathway towards the West End of the palace.

Thorin followed a little more slowly, how Dis was able to run so quickly was beyond his knowledge. Puffing into his short beard, he followed after her.

A little while later and a good race across the grounds found Thorin trudging up a stone staircase,Dis's footsteps coming evenly behind him. He soon found himself seriously considering to leave Frerin to his fate. Sometimes he believed his brother to be more Elf then Dwarf, but had not ventured upon the courage to ask his father on this matter. Frerin was light hearted, and a trickster, which was indeed curious when compared with other serious minded Dwarves. His weapon of choice, and also perhaps of mischief was a strong recurved bow, darkened and aged with years of use. Frerin had acquired it from some visiting Dwarves from the Blue Mountains, who it turn had picked it up during their travels. Whence it's true point of origin was, or who had been the original owner of the fine weapon, remained a mystery. In the whole of the mountain, no other marksman could be compared with Frerin Thrain's son. He never missed his mark, having always deadly accuracy. Yet despite his antics, Frerin was indeed well loved in the Mountain by all.

Thorin smiled to himself as the end of his journey appeared, but perhaps he should have waited until he was actually there.

"Boo!" A voice rang out behind him.

Thorin startled, lost balance and began swinging his arms dangerously near to the edge of the staircase. A strong arm shot out and pulled him back in, accompanied with a chuckle.

"Wouldn't want to lose you there, O Brother of Mine!" Frerin looked positively pleased with himself.

"What in Durin's name do you think you're doing Frerin!?" Thorin asked, clearly annoyed with the situation.

"Having a bit of fun that's all. Did Dis tattle?" Frerin looked behind Thorin and upon seeing Dis stuck his tongue out in a manner not at all fitting to a Prince of the Mountain. Dis however returned the favor, accompanied by a grotesque facial contortion.

Thorin, attempting to gain something of control , "Stop...stop that!"

Frerin playfully snapped to attention and gave a lazy salute, "Yes my Lord!"

Thorin rolled his eyes. "I don't even think you're supposed to be up here."

"Oh, everything's not allowed, you should know that." Frerin grinned, "So, you here to admire my skills or join in the fun?"

"Neither." Thorin replied with a distinct no-nonsense tone, "We're here to put an end to your antics, before wind of them reaches father."

Frerin obviously wasn't listening, as he had his back turned to them. Before Thorin could say anything more, he had pulled out his bow and was in the process of stretching the string taut. "This shot will be a beauty.." He whispered, his eyes gleaming with mischief.

Dis suddenly entered the conversation, "Frerin, what are you..." She was cut off short however as Thorin flew by her and tackled Frerin to the ground. With a hiss the arrow flew of widely, Dis screamed as it passed dangerously close to her. With a smacking sound it hit the wall of the mountain, plastering it in a dark and sticky substance.

Cautiously Dis opened her eyes, and scowled darkly at Frerin, who was now in a giggling heap with Thorin. Strangely enough, Thorin was also finding this amusing. It was one of those odd moments when everyone but one person finds the situation hilarious, and respond accordingly. This now was what Thorin and Frerin were doing, much to Dis's disliking.

With dark and stormy features, common to those of the Royal Line of Durin, she pronounced her sentence on the two Dwarf lads. "You...You...Idiots!" She threw her hands up, having lost all hope that her brothers would ever behave sensibly and left the scene with a dignified air. Narfur's company was much more agreeable.

Thorin pushed Frerin off him still grinning, "She means you."

"You're too modest brother. I insist we share in the title." Frerin sat up and leaned up against a rock with eyes dancing. "You really shouldn't have ruined my shot you know. A once in a lifetime shot."

"You know the rules as well as anyone.I couldn't stand by and let you shoot our people with that...what is that?" Thorin pointed to the large patch of dark liquid on the wall.

"Personal recipe. Yes,well maybe. But what I mean is, at this moment. Right now, I can break those tiresome regulations all the time. I won't stand a chance later on." Frerin smirked with an air of defiance for authority.

"What are you babbling about?" Thorin raised an eyebrow.

"You obviously haven't had your morning drink. I mean you stupid! You know me and my habits. Do you actually think I can break the rules as often as this when you're on the throne? Someday you'll be King Under the Mountain! And I'll be the troublesome general that livens things up."

Someday you'll be King!

Someday you'll be King!

Someday you'll be King!

The voice echoes into the darkness,as the laughing children disappear. As the mists swirl and envelop Thorin half dosing by the fire. An older Thorin, one that has seen many battles and is a proven warrior, one that has led his people from destruction to a new life. Another memory, not quite so old, but still far back in the reckoning of man, forms before him.

He remembers grasping Frerin's bloody hand, the harsh cries of war all about them. He sees the mischiefful light in Frerin's eyes that was to grace his future kingdom begin to fade. The echo of a lost dream sounds about him once again.

Someday you'll be King!

Someday you'll be King!

Someday you'll be King!

"No!" he cries, as if to banish the words and bring his brother's life force back from where it is fleeing. Frerin whispers.


"Frerin! Don't. Don't die! Don't leave me!" Tears unbidden spring to his face, washing the grime and gore of battle from his face.

Frerin smiles with a smile that only those who know they are leaving this world for better have, "Thorin...You are strong. You must lead our people now."

"I want you with me! Together! The sons of Thrain!"

Frerin breathes heavily, "I was never meant for royalty or to be a leader. That is you Thorin. It was always you. I'd be bored, you know I would. Do not weep for me, I die proud. I would not have died any other way then gloriously on the field of battle in the service of my people and kin. Thorin...I..."

Frerin never finishes his last words. His eyes close as his face becomes as tranquil as the lake in Mirromere, where he lies fallen. The weeping willows seem to weep for the fallen son of Durin, as a great and mournful cry rises up.

Thorin is consumed with both rage and grief. Grief that his brother, who should have accompanied him long ere he be called to join Aule, and rage at the foes that dared to smite him down.

Leaping up to take vengeance, not caring for his own fate, his eyes happen upon an oak. Gnarled and stained with the many years, he tears off a section to serve as a shield. Turning towards the orcs and goblins, his eyes gleam with a deadly fury. The ancient blood of Dwarven warriors and Kings within him is awakened, as he utters with thunderous volume the age old cry, "Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd aimênu!"

The darkness comes once more, swallowing the scene up. Leaving the orcs in their moment of fear and the Dwarves in their hard earned victory. Dispersing with a flowing motion, it reveals Thorin of the past before a fire again. Staring once more into it's fiery depths, with deep dark eyes as mysterious as the flames. He stands up with a start as an attendant enters the room, he is smiling with clear pleasure.

He bows to Thorin with a flourish and joyously informs him, "My Lord. Your sister is well and strong!"

Thorin answers, "Good news indeed! But what of the child?"

The attendant seems even more pleased, "Not one child my Lord, but two there are! Both boys, and as alike as the moon is to the sun. For so it is, with one dark and the other fair."

Thorin was clearly relieved, "Luck has indeed smiled down upon us, both the child and the mother well and in good health! Alas, that Narfur did not live to see this happy day."

The mists of memory swirl once again, this time with Thorin by Dis's bedside, admiring the infants. One has wisps of blonde hair, and large blue inquisitive eyes gazing at the new and strange world about him. The other was as dark as the first was fair, eyes tightly shut, as if denying the fact that he was now in this cold world and desperately attempting to find what he has lost.

Dis holds the dark one, whispering ancient Dwarvish that only Dwarf mothers know, old as the mountains and as fresh as a spring stream. She smiles sadly at Thorin, as tears falls down her face. She covers her face and sobs, " Oh Narfur! My Narfur! Your children are fatherless."

Thorin bends down and kisses her forehead with a gentleness that only a brother can have. "My sister, I swear to you, as long as I live your children will not be without a father. I will be to them what I would be to my own children. You have my word my dearest Dis."

The look of gratitude that Dis gives Thorin is worth more than a thousand words, and a warmth flows into the heart of Thorin Oakenshield.

"Thorin, the one with the golden hair I shall name Fili." Dis suddenly said.
Thorin nodded, Fili. It had a pleasant ring to it.

"And the other?" he asked.

"Kili, of course." she answered.

Dis looked into the dark child's face, stroking it softly. It may be at this moment that Kili had finally accepted the fact that he was now in the world, for his eyes opened quite suddenly. Dis gave a small gasp.

"Thorin! Look!"

Thorin bent down to look at the child, and beheld the eyes of his long dead brother. He gazed deep into them and held the silence for a few minutes.

Dis could not be sure, but she thought that Thorin's eyes grew slightly misty. Something she had not seen the stern lord of stone do for an uncountable amount of years.

With a sad smile Thorin softly said, "It seems he is still playing tricks on us from even beyond the vale."

Dis stroked the child's small hands, "He has the fingers of a bowman..."

Thorin covered the tiny soft hands that bore the obvious shape and strength that reminded him so of Frerin. "He would." His whispered half in awe, half in grief.

"Thorin?" a voice spoke from beyond the vale of memory Thorin was wandering in; startling him back into cold reality. The past was over and gone, just as Frerin was. He awoke with a jolt. Had he been sleeping? He turned to see none other than that bothersome Hobbit standing besides him.

"Mr. Baggins." he said with a notable air of annoyance.

"So you can't sleep either?" the unmistakable hobbit voice asked innocently.

"No. I do not sleep because I feel no need to, for the moment being." Thorin coolly replied.

"Ah." Bilbo answered, deciding not to press the matter. Although he was certain that he had just saved Thorin from falling over into the flames, he decided to accept Thorin's statement.

The Dwarf stared moodily into the fire, and Bilbo couldn't help but wonder. Of all the Dwarves, Thorin seemed to be the most sullen and least jovial, an interesting contrast to his sunny nephews. What was he hiding? He wondered what tale there was untold.

"I was thinking that since I'm going to be going on this journey with you all, that I ought to get to know you all as well as I can." Bilbo tried to begin a new conversation, Thorin simply stared with granite features at him. Yet the Hobbit bravely continued.

Bilbo seemed to be looking for something to say, digging around in his mind he found what most other hobbits liked to talk about. So, without much thought or experience he flung out, " Fili and Kili are your nephews, I've gathered that much. Not much I know, but considering how hard it is to get information I think it's pretty good. But what about the rest of your family? Any aunts or uncles or siblings?" Bilbo honestly wanted to talk with someone about something, and if Thorin was the only available person then he would do. This is why he tried to start with the most innocent topic he could think of next to the weather, which was boring and looked about to rain anyway.

With a surprisingly thick voice Thorin said slowly, "Mr. Baggins, I think you should take your rest while you may. We have a long day of travel at dawn."

Something in his tone immediately told the Hobbit to back off, and destroyed any hope of small talk with the Dwarf for Bilbo. Who taking the hint crawled back to his bed after bidding Thorin goodnight.

A single whisper floated ever so softly in the air, but not soft enough to avoid the sharp senses of a hobbit. The whisper puzzled Bilbo very much, especially as he was fairly certain it came from Thorin.