I almost twisted my ankle stepping into a shallow rabbit hole in my own backyard, which makes it no less of a miracle that the dwarves avoided all those giant ones from rhosgobel rabbits digging everywhere. Hence this story. ;)

I do not own the Hobbit or anything affiliated with J.R. Tolkein.


"Kili!"

Thorin's shout behind him was the only clue to Fili that little brother was once again baiting death. Since a young age Kili, the thick headed klutz that he was, had landed himself (and Fili, more often than not) in more tangles than the older dwarf could count.

Lately Fili had taken to naming some of the more creative snares they had fallen into, such as the latest embarrassing round which he had dubbed "Caterpillar Appetizers," an event the brothers were still teasing one another about. "Puppy Chow" should have been another one to joke about at a later time, however, it was rapidly growing too deadly for such light hearted titles.

The wargs were growing too close for Kili's safety. Yet even as Fili prepared to dash forward, grab his nincampoop brother and drag him to safety, Kili unleashed a final arrow and fled towards the shelter of boulders. Rapidly Fili gauged the distance between him and the advancing wargs; it would be close, but just enough. Kili would make it time.

He relaxed a moment too soon.

Abruptly Kili stumbled, letting out a startled cry as his right leg twisted haphazardly beneath him.

A sharp crack resounded, thunderous to Fili's ears even against the clamor of the attacking orcs. Time slowed to a sluggish crawl as Kili's eyes widened in shock, his features twisting in a grimace as he fell. Dread instantly flooded Fili's soul. All sounds ceased to exist save the soft thud of his brother's body hitting the ground.

Kili screamed, and the world rushed back into motion with terrifying swiftness.

With a resounding battlecry Thorin rushed to his nephew's side, his sword sinking deeply into the jowl of the first warg that snapped at the fallen dwarf's heels. Vaguely Fili registered that the others had rushed from the safety of the cavern to rescue their comrade, but his eyes were only on Kili. His legs were not moving fast enough, not carrying him the distance neccessary to reach his brother. And he so desperately needed to be at Kili's side at this moment.

"Do you know what it means to be an older brother, Fili?"

Fili chewed his bottom lip, unsure if it was a good sign that he felt thrilled about the tiny bundle cradled in Mummy's arms. "It means I hafta share you an' Daddy, now?"

Mummy laughed, stroking Fili's hair back and whispering, "It means you are all grown up now, Fili. You are the one whom Kili will look up to; try to mimic; depend on. It is a wonderful responsibility."

"Re-thpon-thi-bul..." He gave up on the word and tilted his head to the side, examining his new little brother. So this was what it meant to be "grown up" now. He did not feel taller or stronger, like Daddy, but he stil liked the idea. It made him feel in charge and important.

"Do you want to hold him?"

Fili stopped short and put his hands behind his back, eyes wide at the prospect. "He's tiny... what if I break him?"

"You will not, Fili." Guiding his hands around the tiny bundle, Mummy showed him how to properly hold Kili, hovering close by nonetheless in case he dropped him.

Fili tilted his head to the side, examining in awe and some trepidation the scrunched up face, huge eyes and tuft of dark hair that made up his younger brother. He did not know why everyone thought Kili was so cute; anyone could tell he was not anything like the puppy Daddy had given Fili for his birthday.

Still, there was something about Kili's gaze that captured him. He seemed so tiny and helpless, yet there was a gleam in his eyes that seemed to defy mortality. Even at so young an age Fili picked up on the rambunctious, daring persona that made up Kili, and instinctively he recognized that being a "big brother" involved way more responsibility than the kind and light hearted words of his mother hinted at.

Little brother was going to need some serious help.

"I'm gonna look after you now, Kili," Fili nodded decisively. "Cause I'm all growed up now."

He kept true to his promise in the years to come.

Wherever one brother could be seen, it was predicted that the other was not far behind. If Kili impishly tried to trick his uncle into a thorough dousing, Fili was hiding on the balcony with a bucket of water. If Fili was grounded for one of his pranks, Kili was hiding close by waiting for the perfect moment to grab Mummy's hand and successfully plead his brother's case. If Fili was enduring a sword fighting lesson, Kili was poking at razor sharp arrows until Uncle Thorin finally gave in and included him in the training. If Fili was expected to wash dishes, Kili was tossing them around and launching into another outrageous tale to keep their minds off the mundane task.

If Kili was in trouble, Fili was there to drag his sorry hide back to safety.

Murky brown eyes, darkened with pain, latched onto Fili's and surge of adrenaline lent wings to his feet. The distance between Kili and the rocks was only ten feet.

More than enough time for fate to take an evil twist.

A second warg launched itself forward even as Thorin finished the first one off, the orc on its back keeping him occupied while the warg focused on a more appealing prey.

His movements clumsy with shock, Kili grappled with his sword, failing to pull it out of its sheath. At the last minute he fumbled one of his arrows from his sheath, driving it with lethal precision towards the wargs throat. Powerful jaws splintered the wood like dried leaves, however, the warg's malevolent eyes taunting him with defeat before twin rows of daggers crunched heavily into his shoulder.

Fili shouted in denial, rage hazing his vision as the creature shook his brother like a ragdoll before tossing him several feet away. Kili's screams of agony echoed through the plain before he hit the ground with a sickening thud, rolling a short distance before slamming against the circle of rocks he had been striving to reach only minutes before. He writhed where he lay, face drawn in anguish, trying to curl into himself and letting out a harsh keen as movement only intensified his pain.

Thorin's furious onslaught against the creatures that dared harm one of his kin was drowned out of conscious thought, the shouts of the other dwarves and Gandalf's chanting mere whispers as Fili stumbled forward, collapsing to his knees at his brother's side. His heart dropped like a stone as he saw the jagged twist in Kili's right shin and rivulets of crimson flowing from multiple puncture wounds across his shoulder. Dark eyes, clouded with dillerium yet lit with an unwavering candle of hope, shone with an unspoken plea.

After all, "big brother" could always fix everything.

Fili had sworn from early childhood to look after his sibling, and he had no intent to fail him now. With uncanny gentleness he gathered Kili into his arms, hushing softly as the younger dwarf cried out.

"I've got you," he whispered, the words nothing to him save a desperate repetition to keep his brother conscious. "Everything will be all right. You're safe. I'm going to protect you."

A hand grasped Fili's shoulder and the outside world jolted into place as Thorin dragged him back towards the cave. Blue fletched arrows zipped through the air above them, and vaguely Fili compared them to Kili's own archery skills. There was a rush of darkness and cool air and he realized he was standing in the relative safety of the cavern, Kili lying limp in his arms.

Thorin was at his side in an instant, ripping a makeshift bandage from his tunic and wrapping it tightly around the bloody wounds in Kili's shoulder. "We cannot stay here. The elves will be upon us in a moment."

"Do you expect them to torture a wounded prisoner?" Gandalf retorted in disbelief. "Do not let the stubborness of your forefathers cloud your senses, Thorin! The elves will help you, not imprison you! And might I add that you will need more than mere wizardry to counteract a warg attack this time."

Indecision flickered across Thorin's gaze. Kili whimpered softly in Fili's hold, a fine sheen of sweat already trickling into his hairline as his eyes half shuttered in torment. For an instant Fili thought Thorin might change his mind, but with an effort of will the leader shook his head.

"I will not place my trust in a race that ignored the needs of my people," he said raggedly. "They refused us assistance before; they will not help us now."

"Save us from the stubborness of dwarves!" Gandalf said in aggravation, his staff pounding against the earth with a hollow thunk.

"I will not risk the life of my nephew with a people whom I do not trust," Thorin retaliated, his calm words holding a dangerous ring that no dwarf who valued his life dared to disregard.

"And if Kili dies while you contemplate quarrels of the past...?"

Flinty eyes met stoically with Gandalf's steadfast gaze, and Thorin refused to answer.


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