Well, this is it- the last chapter! It's been fun, ambling along on this tale with you all; I hope you've enjoyed it!
This is more of an epilogue than an actual chapter, so it's a bit shorter than normal ^^
Kili came to on a pony, his face to blue sky, pressed against someone's chest. The steady rhythm of the pony's hooves on hard ground almost lulled the dwarf back into sleep, but his eyes pinged open as he caught a familiar scent- he looked round and saw Fili was sitting behind him on the pony, holding him tight against his body; his head had been on his shoulder.
Fili looked down as he noticed Kili's breathing pattern had changed- he smiled widely as he saw his little brother looking up at him with wide eyes. 'Afternoon, sleepy head- nice of you to join the world of the living for once…' he muttered, before winking at Kili as his brother stretched.
Kili hissed as he moved his skin, yet the pain seemed only to be residual- it should hurt much worse than this, he thought….
As if reading his mind, Fili piped up, 'It was a good job that Gandalf was here this time, another few moments without care and you would have….well, you wouldn't be here.' His voice trailed off, before he coughed; it seemed he had been saying these thoughts of things much too often lately.
'Ah….' Kili replied; that was all he could say. He was eternally grateful for the Wizard being here, and for his brother and uncle for always being there for him when he needed them.
'What happened to Azog, and the other Wargs?' he asked, frowning down at his brother.
Fili returned his frown, shrugging. 'Don't know- everything was going really bad, and then….well, something happened, and Azog retreated.' He explained.
'What do you mean, something?'
'Well, we don't know-something attacked him, something unseen…..we don't know what it was. But he's gone now, and that's all that matters…' Fili muttered, shaking his head.
'I guess….we don't need to be wary of this invisible foe, do we?' Kili asked, unusual anxiety in his stomach.
'Well, whatever it was, it's gone- we haven't known of it since; I'm sure we're fine, brother- don't worry.'
Kili nodded, feeling a little better; sighing, he wiped a hand down his face, before stopping when it got to his cheek- smiling daftly, he realised the scars from the Goblin blade of his face was no longer there. He grinned around at his brother, pointing to his cheek, before feeling his newly smooth face once more, smiling contently.
'Yes, Kili, I asked Gandalf to change your face- all we would have succeeded to do if it were left like you had it would be endless moans and groans from you every time you looked into water, or a mirror if we found one.' Fili chuckled, rolling his eyes.
'True, I'm just glad any damage cannot be permanent now we've got a wizard!' Kili grinned- suddenly, with dawning realisation, he looked down at the mode of transport they were riding on, and then looked around- 'Uh, Fili…..I thought we lost the ponies? None of them came to Goblin-Town with us.'
Fili snorted, before he gave Kili the reins and deftly slipped off the back of the pony, grateful for hard ground under his feet. 'You're right- we came upon a farmer taking some crops to a town and we, uh, borrowed the pony.'
'Borrowed?' Kili looked sideways down at his brother, eyebrows raised.
'Well, ok- we sort of…..took the pony.'
'It wasn't me! I was all for carrying you, but Thorin wouldn't let me continue because my wounds kept opening even after Gandalf fixed them, and then we came upon this farmer….he wouldn't give it to us….'
'So….Gloin and Bifur threatened to hack his head from his shoulders if he didn't give us the pony.' Filo grinned at the ground.
'Oh dear!' Kili chuckled, shaking his head mock-angry at the other dwarves. 'Shame on you all….' He muttered sarcastically.
Fili grinned good- naturedly, but with a frown Kili saw he was limping- casting a look at their uncle, who was at the front with Gandalf, he saw that he too was finding it hard to walk.
'Here, why don't you sit back on, I'm fine- maybe Thorin needs a rest?' he pointed out to his brother, making to get off the animal.
Fili raised his eyebrows, before shaking his head and putting a hand on Kili's leg to steady him. 'Oh no, we got the pony for you, not for me or Thorin- you've accumulated the most injuries in the past few days; you need to rest.'
'You don't have to- I don't need special treatment….' Kili grumbled, suddenly feeling very exposed sat atop the pony, with everyone else plodding on below him.
'It's not special treatment- just a way to get you around. When we stop for the evening we can let the pony go if you so wish.'
'Can we rest now?' Kili muttered, sighing. He realised he was being very selfish, and should be grateful.
'Thanks, though- means a lot.' He muttered, leaning down and poking Fili in the shoulder.
'Yeah, well- don't make a habit of it…' Fili replied, giving Kili a look.
'What? What have I done now?' Kili smiled, shifting the reins in his hands as he looked down at Fili.
'You know what- getting injured all the time, being near-death more times than I can count….' Fili muttered, voice wavering. 'Scaring me, making me think I'm going to lose you, it's not a very nice thing to do to an older sibling.' He muttered, before winking at Kili as he saw his brother had a shocked look on his face.
'I'm sorry, I really am.' Kili don't know what else to say; it wasn't his fault his plan didn't work….
'I'll try not to in the future.'
Fili snorted under his breath, before sighing loudly 'If only I could believe that….' He muttered, more to himself than his brother.
Kili frowned, hearing exactly what he said. 'What-what do you mean? Fili?'
Fili saw he had unnerved his brother, and squeezed his knee lightly to comfort him. 'Well, it's just….everything, isn't it? The danger, the risks….how do we even know we're going to survive long enough to reach Erebor.'
'Don't say that! Not you, Fili- you can't.' Kili yelped, shaking his head- why was his brother talking like this?
'I don't mean to frighten you, brother; I really mean not to….I'm sorry.' Fili replied, cursing himself for letting his own fears cloud his speech. Kili didn't need to know this; he was still so young, still unaware of war and battles, as was he- but he, Fili, needed to think of the future, and what other dangers their quest might hold.
There was silence for a while, whilst the pony clopped along steadily as a gentle wind blew through the group; Kili watched a fixed point on the horizon, a frown on his face.
Fili looked up, anxious to see if his brother was ok- he didn't mean to upset him, he just wanted him to understand.
Suddenly, Kili sat up straighter on his pony, wincing. Fili frowned. 'What's the matter?' he asked, peering ahead to see what his brother was looking at.
'Why is Gandalf leading us off a cliff?' came his reply.
His eyes wide, Fili stood on his tiptoes- after all, Kili was on a pony; he could see much farther away than he could. But, sure enough, he could see that his brother was right….a great cliff face was coming up, and Fili could see a panoramic view ahead of them.
'I don't know….let's go up and see…' he muttered, stopping the pony and helping his brother get down.
Kili hissed as he used his brother's shoulders to help him get off the horse- together, and with the rest of the dwarves who could now see something was up, they made their way to stand next to Thorin, Gandalf and Bilbo. Kili looked down at the Hobbit, putting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing lightly. 'I see you made it out of the forest ok.' He smiled.
Bilbo looked up, nodding. 'Yep, piece of cake…' he muttered, smiling inwardly.
Kili grinned, not thinking any more of his words. Thorin looked at his nephew, smiling as he walked up to him. 'Kili…glad you're on the mend.' He muttered, putting a hand on Kili's shoulder.
'I'm fine, really, uncle. Why have we stopped here?' he asked, looking around.
'Can't you see? Look to the horizon….' Thorin muttered, standing between his two nephews as they peered into the distance.
Kili and Fili peered out into the open air, squinting in the sunlight- 'Is that….' Fili muttered.
'It can't be….' Kili breathed.
'Erebor.' Thorin finished, pride in his heart.
The brother's stood back, beaming at each other from behind their uncle. Thorin didn't take his eyes off the misty mount in the far distance; the dark mass of land that housed his kingdom, and where he would sit again.
'We're close!' Kili muttered, grinning.
'No, Master Kili, we are not.' Gandalf spoke from his side, a wry smile on his face. 'We are many, many miles away- we still have a long journey ahead of us….'
'But we know we're going to make it now, right? Now we can see it?' Kili replied, naivety showing.
'Perhaps…' Gandalf did not like to quash his spirit- he would leave the talking to his brother and uncle.
Thorin let the words wash over him, eyes only for Erebor. He sighed, eyes closing as his mind raced. A new age, a new epoch of the dwarves was starting; he could feel it in his bones, in his heart.
Erebor would be his again; he only wished it would come sooner.
The sun was high in the sky as the dwarves looked upon their long lost homeland; each and every one of them was smiling, each lost in their own worlds and thoughts.
'Come…..' Thorin muttered after a while, finished with his soaking up of the view of his kingdom that he would soon be reclaiming.
He turned, placing his hands on his nephew's shoulders, a smile on his face as they walked away from the cliff edge.
'….Let's go home.'
Thank you to each and every one of you who have reviewed, alerted and put this on their favourite lists- it all means the world to me!
All of you have made this the most successful fic I have ever written; thank you ^^
Please review one last time, for this chapter and the story as a whole? I'd be so grateful if you did :)
Until next time…