"This Kili is definitely deceased. He has ceased to be! He has gone to make his maker, he has joined the choir invisible! If he wasn't included in this chapter he would be pushing up daisies!"
(Hee-hee! Couldn't resist putting that in. The first couple minutes of Monty Python and the Dead Parrot always come to mind when I write a semi-tragedy.) ;)
Did I ever mention I do not own The Hobbit or anything related? Sadly, the only thing I own is the - *slap!* - "Ouch!"
Erm... laptop, of course. Hehe... Why would I ever say I owned the muse?
Pale sunlight winked in past the windows and caressed his skin, the sharp, fresh scent of morning bringing with it a sense of ease and peacefulness that made Kili want to pull the covers over his head and snooze away until late afternoon. Mother was calling, no doubt having been awake for hours preparing enough breakfast to satiate her two ravenous sons, but Kili was not yet ready to face the day.
Yes, he would be up in a moment, Mother; there was no need to call in Fili. Aulë help him if his brother decided a tickling spree was the proper method of rousing his sibling this morning.
Kili instinctively drew his feet up protectively, scrunching up his nose in horror at the thought. Perhaps he should get up before Fili contrived some other nasty prank to goad him out of bed. Last time he had poured a bucket of tadpoles down Kili's collar, and Kili imagined he had been washing slime out of his hair for weeks.
All right, all right, I'm moving, Kili sighed, cracking his eyes open warily and half expecting Fili to be standing nearby with a tankard of freshly melted snow water to pour over his inert brother. One of these days I will be up at the crack of dawn, and then he will discover how affable it is to awaken with kittens nibbling on his toes.
"Kili? Come on, you great idiot. I know you are awake."
Fili! Kili bolted upright, determined to have the upper hand when his brother launched his attack. He only succeeded in tangling his legs in the sheets in his clumsiness, spilling onto the floor in an undignified heap as he whipped around in search of his brother. A sharp twinge in his leg left him befuddled and confused, and he stared in perturb at the soft white bandages wrapped around his shoulder.
"What - Kili?" Fili leapt from the chair he had been resting in and flew to Kili's side, gingerly assisting his brother in returning to bed. His mannerism was fidgety and anxious, as though Kili were in danger of shattering at the lightest touch. "Don't move so fast, now; you were injured, remember?"
Injured? Again? What was it this time, a wrong step through a rotten floorboard? Or had Uncle Thorin finally had enough and clouted him over the head as he often threatened he would one day?
For the first time Kili took a moment to observe his surroundings, and realized he was residing in an unfamiliar large room. White walls were bathed in sunlight from the open balcony, but sparse of any decoration save a series of intricate carvings. Pillars stood near the open curtains and a cream colored rug covered most of the floor. There were a few articles of furniture, namely the bed which was pleasantly comfortable as well as a desk, small table and a few chairs, all of which had similar delicate patterns engraved into the wood. Kili's own clothing had been replaced by a pair of white trousers and a long sleeved shirt, and he felt nervous without his sword or bow at hand. He examined the room with no small degree of alarm, seeking for an explanation.
"Fili? What is going on?"
Fili sighed, swiping a hand over his face and looking as though he wanted nothing more than to sleep for a month or cry. Kili's worry spiked up a notch. How long had he been ill? Had his brother had any rest during that time?
Now that he thought about it, where was the rest of the company? The last he could remember was of ...
Snippets of flashing teeth and guttural orc screams filtered through Kili's mind and he quickly shut them out. He did not want to revisit that horrific moment.
That explained his injuries, then, but not how he came to be inside this mansion. Perhaps he was already dead and this was the afterlife. Of course, that would mean that Fili would be dead, too, and Kili did not want to entertain that idea.
There was another lengthy pause before Fili spoke. It seemed to Kili as though it took all his brother's effort to force the words from his throat.
"You nearly died, Kili. Right there... in my arms." Fili took a ragged breath and ran a hand through his hair, grasping at the tangled braids. "I thought... I thought I'd lost you, brother," he rasped. "You... you stopped breathing. There was nothing more I could do!"
It was not often that Kili played the comforter for his older brother, but there were rare occasions when Fili needed the illusion that everything was under control. "It's all right, Fili," he hushed, squeezing his sibling's wrist gently. "I'm here, now. I'm fine."
"No, you're not listening!" Fili shook his head, eyes glistening. "You died, Kili! You died in my arms and Elrond was almost unable to bring you back!" Biting back a sob, he fought for composure.
"I came so close to losing you, Kili."
Kili could make no answer to his brother's statement. Fili was the one with the assurances and promises, the one who could wipe away his doubts and remind him that the past should hold no regrets. Kili did not know how to offer the same consolation for his brother. He could only comfort him as he was able by his mere presence.
For a few minutes Kili remained silent, allowing Fili to regain control of his emotions while he took a moment to absorb what he had heard. If what he had heard from Gandalf was true, Elrond was the leader of the elves in these parts. If he had been the one to heal Kili, then that could only mean...
"Fili," he questioned, noticing the lack of boisterous shouting and clomping boots for the first time,"Where are the others?" At his brother's hesitation Kili insisted, "Fili? Where am I?"
"We are in Imladris," his brother answered reluctantly, fiddling with a tiny horse statuette that had been resting on the table. "You were unconscious when the elves brought us here. Elrond healed your shoulder and your leg, but you have been unconscious for nearly a week..."
A week! Kili sighed dismally and lay back, dismayed at the news. "Uncle will be furious with the delay."
For them to be held up in Rivendell, no less! Thorin had sworn against ever setting foot inside the elven city, and now Kili had dragged them all here due to his stupid clumsiness. He could not have thrown off their plans with more efficiency.
"Don't be too hard on yourself, Kili. Thorin suspects Gandalf would have tricked us into stopping by here in the first place," Fili shrugged with a look of chagrin. "Apparently there was some sort of 'hidden inscription' in the map that Thorin needed to take a look at. You've actually helped our quest, if you look at it that way."
"Hidden inscription?" Kili inquired.
"'Moon Runes,' he called them," Fili started to explain. "You could only see them when - "
Kili never learned the true mystery behind "Moon Runes," as at that moment Fili was rudely interrupted when two dark heads popped around the door. Pointed ears and matching wicked grins greeted Kili, and the taller of the elves laughed when he jumped in surprise.
"Well, well, well, so the charge is finally awake!"
Fili bit back a smile, rolling his eyes as he introduced, "Elladan and Elrohir, Lord Elrond's sons. They, ah, have personally made it their responsibility to ensure we are not disturbed."
"Except when that terrifying uncle of yours is present," Elladan pointed out, waltzing into the room with little regard to the conversation he had just interrupted. "He seems to be under the impression that we are the disturbance."
Elrohir nodded exuberantly in agreement, adding, "He can yell louder than Ada!"
Fili hid a chuckled at Kili's puzzled expression. "It appears that we have distant cousins among the Rivendell folk. Thorin says he will welcome our next prank after being subjected to their mischeif."
"It was but a harmless dragonfly, and we did not expect it to fly into his beard," Elladan complained. "We did not even intend for it to escape!"
"Of course, the minnows in the dwarves' mead was no accident," Elrohir added, "Only we did not anticipate that Thorin would choke on one..."
Kili gaped in pleased astonishment. "You slipped a fish into his drink and he suspected nothing?"
Elrohir shrugged half heartedly. "Ada did warn us that we would initiate the War of Elves and Dwarves before the end. We are doomed to assist the cooks in the kitchen for the next few weeks."
"Yes, originally we were sentenced to scrubbing the floors of the entire city, however the grand display of eleven dwarves and one wizard slipping and sliding down the soapy sudsy stairs escaped father's sense of humor," Elladan said wryly. "He banished us to dish washing detail after that, but I do not think he trusted us even then considering there was a guard posted at every serving plate."
The twins burst into a fit of helpless giggles, Fili and Kili joining in their mirth at the mental image of the great Thorin Oakenshield tumbling down a flight of stairs and leaving a trail of grimy soap suds in his wake.
"Why aren't we taking notes on this?" Kili hissed. "We've only been here a week and already they are outwitting us with their pranks!"
Fili sobered immediately, giving him that funny, sidelong look again and refused to meet his eyes. Kili had a grave suspicion that his brother was hiding something.
"Before we leave," Elladan announced, procurring two small goblets of a clear liquid, "Refreshments. Our sister sent you these - "
"And we edited them," Elrohir broke in with a conspiratal wink. "We intend to give them to Ada and his melodramatic aid, but you must pretend to drink out of them first so that our sister does not uncover our ploy."
Kili and Fili exchanged a dubious glance. "Somehow I have the impression that our pranks were a little more intelligent," Kili commented softly.
He accepting the goblet, wrinkling his nose at the fumes and immediately handing it back before he could catch a proper whiff. Fili sniffed at the liquid, no doubt trying to ascertain its contents, and the two elves exchanged a gleeful grin.
A split second later Fili let out series of explosive sneezes and the twins cackled in mirth.
"I knew it!" Elrohir grinned wildly. "He is allergic, dear brother! What do you think it is? The hawthelberry or the belladonna?"
"Either way we had better ensure Ada does not actually drink it," Elladan murmured, "Or we may be facing down more than a wrathful healer if he becomes ill."
"Forgive our experiment," Elrohir piped up, "But we had to ensure it reached the proper potency before we put it to good use, and you were the only victims who would not suspect us."
"Come on, then," Elladan urged, "Before Arwen learns we are here!" He grabbed his brother's shoulder and pulled him out the door, the twin's muffled voices drifting further away as they discussed exactly what reaction they might expect from their father.
Kili had a hand clapped over his mouth, tears streaming from his eyes as he tried in vain not to make fun of Fili's red face and puffed up nose. The battle was futile and Kili burst into uncontrollable laughter.
"It's not funny!" Fili grumped wrapping a rag around his nose and clouting his brother over the head in an act of revenge.
Kili rolled just out of range, striking his head on the back wall instead. To Fili's relief this brought a swift and merciful end to his bout of humor.
"Now, then," Kili determined as soon as his wits returned to him, "How long until I am well enough to travel?" He looked about for his armor, hoping he would not be forced to wear the drab white tunic he was clad in for the rest of the journey.
Fili cringed. "A few days, at least, though we could start off now if we take it easy."
Kili frowned, sighing at his incompetency. "I do feel badly for holding back the quest," he admitted. "Where is Uncle Thorin? I want to inform him that I am ready at once."
His brother was oddly reluctant to meet his gaze, and Kili's eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"Fili? Where are the others?"
Fili took great interest in his frayed boot lace, examining it with the most impeccable care as he revealed, "We are... not accompanying them, Kili."
Time screeched to a halt and Kili blinked owlishly, certain he had misunderstood. "What do you mean, not accompanying them?" he asked with a laugh, assured that his brother was only teasing. "We are part of the company, are we not?"
Only now did Fili meet his eyes, and the raw disappointment reflected in his gaze may well have been a dagger plunging into Kili's stomach.
"The company ... left, Kili. Three days ago. Unc... Thorin has ordered us to return home."
Kili's breath was stolen away in a surge of denial. "No," he whispered, shaking his head, "No, he cannot do that. We swore an oath, Fili, we signed a contract! He cannot - "
"He can, and he has!" Fili interrupted, his face twisted in defeat. "I argued the point with him, Kili. By Aulë I begged him to reconsider! He told me he refused to place us in any further danger and I..." He drew a ragged breath, "Forgive me, brother, but I agreed with him in the end."
Kili drew back as though he had been struck. "You... you told him we would return? After everything we have fought for - "
"It was nothing worth dying for, Kili!" Fili intercepted, rising to his feet. "You could have been killed in that field, and for what reason? For the sake of a few pieces of cold metal? I would sooner take the treasure of Eraborn and throw it into the sea!"
Never in his life had he seen Fili so angry, so desperate. Kili sank down under the covers, speechless in light of his brother's admission. Had it really been that close, then, for his brother to reach the point where he would sooner abandon their uncle - the hero he had looked to for guidance - than risk any further danger?
"...Fili..?" he petitioned tremulously.
The flame in his brother's eyes snuffed out and Fili gathered him into a crushing embrace, trembling as he said wretchedly, "I will not lose you again, Kili."
Kili could offer no reply, for there was none. He could not ease his brother's fear nor claim that death would never find them, for the future was a veiled path and he could no more swear that they would live to see the morrow than he could stop the rain. He could not say that his Uncle's worries were unfounded and ask that 'Please, couldn't they run and catch up before it was too late?', for Fili had proven to him that Thorin's worst fears had been realized and nothing short of a miracle would sway his decision.
Kili could only hold on and assure his brother that yes, he understood and promised not to run off and follow after the others, that yes, he would accompany him without complaint and take care not to strain his injuries on the long trek back, that yes, he was keenly disappointed but he promised to hold his head high as though they were not returning in disgrace, and yes, above all he did understand Uncle Thorin's reasoning and he would do his best not to hold it against him.
It would be nice, Kili supposed, to see mother again and to assure her that when they had last seen him Thorin had been alive and well. And he would still have Fili, and they could collaborate a list of ideas from the twins so that they could properly surprise Uncle Thorin when he returned in success. Kili could do this... he would be all right.
Fili sniffed hard, swallowing back the remainder of his tears and squeezing his brother tighter as Kili relaxed against him. "Come on, brother," he croaked, forcing a smile. "Let's go home."
Thorin knew Kili would feel betrayed that he had been left behind. Fili himself had been angered by the dismissal, arguing the point into long hours of the night before accepting that Thorin was acting for the best.
He did not deserve such undeterred loyalty from his nephews, and in the end that was what altered the course of Thorin's decision.
Fili and Kili would sooner die fighting alongside him than preserving their own lives, and Thorin could not allow that to continue. He knew he should be proud of his nephews, grateful for two stout hearted warriors who would stand by him in the throng of battle. After Kili was nearly torn to pieces by the warg, however, Thorin could only feel disgust at himself for dragging them into his own personal war. He would never have forgiven himself had either of them died on his account.
His nephews may have joined him of their own accord, knowing full well the risks involved, but Kili was still young and reckless, prone to thrill seeking and adventure, while Fili would have followed Thorin into a river of dragon's fire had he asked. Their choice had never been their own, even under the illusion of a contract.
After their father's death Thorin had practically raised the boys as his own sons. He had watched them grow, taken part in their childish fantasies, taught them how to use a sword, and observed their bond strengthen and deepen until neither brother could be seen without the other. His nephews were more precious to him than thousands of mines brimming with treasure, yet Thorin had nearly tossed them aside, sacrificed them for the promise of his "rightful" inheritance.
No, he could never forgive himself for his selfish single-mindedness. And so Thorin had sent them home, back to their mother, back to a land of relative safety, where Kili would live to fall out of another tree and Fili might get around to marrying that girl he had been secretly admiring. His nephews would forgive him in time, Thorin hoped, but even if they never understood his reasoning his heart was lighter knowing they were safe. In the end, that was all that mattered.
He had kept his promise to Dis.
Um... this was not exactly supposed to happen. My muse, which is now so fat it has to roll around to get anywhere, was given a lifetime supply of Starbucks coffee and it hit the roof after drinking the entire thing. It's probably going to sleep through the rest of the year.
(*Points out all reviewers who fed the muse coffee* "Blame them for this fiasco, not me!)
Well, good news is that this means Fili and Kili won't die in the end. :)
Even better news!
A new muse latched onto my shoe on my way back from shopping, and we are currently devising new and improved ways of torturing our favorite Durin family.
Of course, the new muse heard about its cousin's reviewer-supplied buffet and now it demands that it, too, must be fed so that it may properly enjoy its Kili chew toy without the discomfort of its tummy rumbling. In return we will try and post our newest story as soon as possible!
So please feed the new muse and welcome him into the Kili!torture community! Reviews and ideas are welcome, chew toys and dinosaur plushies are also acceptable. ;)
(Please remember, do not offer coffee to the muses. Terrible and unexpected things happen when muses are high on caffeine.)