A/N: I just watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and I loved the movie so much that I just had to write this. I haven't decided if this is going to be a oneshot or if I'm writing more, but here it is for now!

Always

Fili sat up in bed, his ears perking up. He was nearly positive he had heard the sound of the front door opening. Through the closed door of the bedroom he shared with his little brother, the sound of his mother's voice floated into the room. And then he heard another, the one he had been waiting to hear. A deep, gravelly voice. His Uncle!

Scrambling out of bed, the seven-year-old dwarfling suddenly paused, looking back at his lightly snoring brother. Little Kili was only two, and he made Fili feel like the responsible one, the grown-up. Chewing on the inside of his cheek, Fili surveyed his brother, wondering if he should leave him there alone. Kili often had terrible nightmares, and was also scared of the dark. But he was asleep…and Uncle Thorin was in the doorway. Fili made his decision.

"Are the boys asleep?" Thorin asked Dis, his little sister, bending to embrace her.

"Yes," she smiled. "They spent the entire day waiting for you, Thorin. The poor things were so disappointed when you didn't come. You know they love your company."

Thorin raised an eyebrow, hiding his smile. He loved his sister-sons, much more than he would openly admit. He had lost so much – his brother, his father and grandfather, his brother-in-law – but the boys always managed to warm his cracked heart. Even when Kili lured him out into the yard with big innocent brown eyes and promises of a surprise and Fili had been perched up on the roof with a big bucket of icy water to dump over their Uncle. Even when the two had tried to "play" with the sword he had left on the couch and Fili had wound up with a broken foot from accidentally dropping the tip of the blade, the only part the brothers had managed to lift, even when they had combined their efforts. Even when the two boys had tied his hair to the bedpost while he slept at their house one night. And even when Kili had decided that his sleeping Uncle would make the perfect horse to ride while on his journey to defeat the evil white orc, and had given Thorin a backache for the rest of the night from having a two-year-old bouncing energetically up and down on his spine, gripping his hair tightly as reins and howling invented battle cries in his high-pitched baby voice.

"I'll see them tomorrow," Thorin promised. "I brought something for Fili, too." He withdrew a wooden sword from inside his heavy cloak, the perfect size for his young nephew.

"Thorin," Dis sighed, taking the toy weapon.

"He needs to learn," Thorin defended himself. "That boy is my heir, Dis, the sooner he learns to defend himself the better."

"Defend himself! You're going to – to try to make him a warrior!"

"You think he isn't?" Thorin hissed. "He is my heir, he has my blood in his veins! Our father's blood! Even little Kili will be a warrior one day, and your trying to mollycoddle them will not change anything, Dis!"

"What if they die, Thorin?" His little sister nearly screamed at him. "You know what happened to their father! He gave his life for you, for Erebor! Kili has never even met his father, and I doubt that Fili will even remember his face soon! I don't want to lose my sons the same way! I will not have them die before their time, Thorin, and least of all because of you." She held the sword behind her back, glaring at him. "They are the only family we have left."

Thorin sighed. She was right, in a way, but he was more in the right than she. "Dis," he began, in a slow, calming voice, and stopped when his sister held up a hand. Younger than him she might be, but Thorin respected the fact that her children were the ones in question – and that she was a formidable force when angry. When she was three and he'd accidentally-on-purpose broken her favorite doll by practicing his axe-throwing abilities by throwing the doll instead of the axe, Dis had given him a bruise on his shoulder that had gone through a myriad of colors before finally vanishing a month and a half later. She had a right to worry about her sons – especially Kili, who had been born nearly a month premature, the birth brought on by the nearly crippling grief Dis had felt upon finding her husband's dead body on the battlefield at Erebor.

"You can train them," Dis said, her voice flat. She placed the toy sword back in her brother's hands. "But you will leave Kili alone until he is able – you know that he's small for his age. And brother, please…take care of them."

Thorin dropped the sword, taking his sister's hands in his own. "I will," he promised her. "As long as I am able, I will protect them." He offered her a rare smile. "They are like my own, Dis."

"Aye," she whispered, blinking rather rapidly, and suddenly Thorin realized that she had been close to tears.

"Mummy?" a small voice said, and Thorin swore.

"Thorin!" Dis gasped, glaring at him, even as she hurried towards the doorway, picking up a teary-eyed Fili and bringing him back to Thorin.

"Sorry," Thorin muttered. How long had the child been there? How much had he heard?

"Were you and Uncle Thorin fighting?" Fili asked, a tear dripping from his golden eyelashes.

"No, sweetheart, your uncle was just being very silly," Dis smiled, smoothing his sunny hair back, running a finger through the few braids she had added to it.

"You were very loud," he sniffled, and Thorin realized suddenly that they had scared the dwarfling.

"Come here, lad," Thorin said, kneeling down on the floor and holding out his hand, deciding that distracting the boy would be the best option.

Dis put her son down, and Fili knelt by his uncle, an expectant look on his face.

"I made you something," Thorin said, smiling at the look of excitement on his nephews face. "But you have to promise me that you will be careful with it. No using it when you fight with your brother."

"Kili and I don't fight," Fili pouted, "I just have to fix him when he's being silly."

Dis chuckled.

"Of…of course," Thorin said, deciding it was best not to argue with a seven-year-old sleepy dwarf child, especially when his mother was standing two feet away and would have Thorin's head if he upset the child any more. "Here you are, then, Fili. Use it well." He ignored his sister's eye roll, presenting the boy with the wooden sword he had made for him.

"For me?" Fili squeaked, taking the toy weapon slowly. He gazed at it, enraptured, for a few minutes, before flinging himself on his uncle. "Thank you, Uncle Thorin!" Fili had thrown his arms around his uncle's neck, and Thorin winced as the boy accidentally banged the back of his head with the toy.

"You're welcome, lad," Thorin said, awkwardly patting the boy's back. He never felt comfortable showing his affection in front of others, and Dis was currently smirking at him. His sister knew him too well. "Come on now, let's get you to bed."

"But I wanna play! Will you play with me, Uncle Thorin?" Fili gave his uncle his best Kili-face. Although Fili knew he was undeniably cute, Kili had replaced him as the cutest child in the house – because he was smaller, of course. All the adults thought Kili was adorable, and the scheming two-year-old used the knowledge to his full advantage. And it was easier to melt a dwarf's heart of stone when you had big eyes and were only two, and had no knowledge of the big wide world. So Fili pretended he was his brother, giving his uncle the best Kili eyes he could.

"All right," Thorin caved finally, and Fili cheered, flinging his hands in the air and running around the room. Thorin chuckled. If he hadn't known better, he would've thought that Dis had let the boy drink something she shouldn't have – but his nephews were a handful and he knew it. Little Kili was the more rambunctious of the two, but Fili was older and therefore had more stamina. Thorin had a feeling he was going to get tired before the little dwarfling racing around the room.

"So you hold the sword like this," Thorin demonstrated, wrapping Fili's small fingers carefully around the hilt, while Dis watched carefully, waiting for the first opportunity to haul her determined offspring off to bed. "And to parry a blow, you swing – like this. Yes!"

Fili, it turned out, was a natural, and Thorin had just begun to enjoy teaching the boy what to do with the wood in his hand when a loud, high-pitched scream froze them all in place.

"Kili," Fili gasped, and in an instant he had dropped the sword on the ground, wrenched his hand free of his uncle's grip, and flown into the bedroom. His little brother was sitting up in bed, brown hair a mess, tears running down his cheeks. "Kili, what's wrong?"

Fili clambered up onto the bed and pulled the tiny dwarfling close, holding his brother tightly, feeling Kili shaking and hating it. Why did this only happen to Kili? His brother had been born on the battlefield, Fili knew. His mother had gone looking for his father, who had died a hero's death, taking several orcs with him when he had finally gone, and had suddenly been overcome by birth pains. Had Kili seen something when he was born that he shouldn't have? Had his little brother seen the battlefield, and all the blood and gore that Fili, at the age of seven, knew there would have been? Fili hadn't been there – Dis had left him behind with a nanny, safely hidden away from the battle. He wished suddenly that he had followed his mother anyway. Maybe he would have known what haunted his little brother's sleep every night, why the boy couldn't bear to be alone in the dark.

Fili buried his face in his brother's soft hair, humming a lullaby, rocking his baby brother gently. Every time Kili gave another sob, Fili felt a physical pain in his chest, and he tightened his protective hold. "It's okay," he whispered. "I'm here. Nothing is going to hurt you."

"I woked up," Kili gasped finally, his sobs subsiding a little, "And you wasn't there! And I dweamed that a golbin ated you, and then I woked up and you wasn't there, and it was dark and my was scared!" He howled with misery again, burying his face in his big brother's tunic, snuggling close to Fili.

"It's okay," Fili soothed, patting the tiny dwarf's hair, attempting to smoothen the strands and braids that were sticking up in various directions. "Nothing ate me, I'm right here. It was just a bad dream."

Kili looked up at him with big brown eyes, a large tear rolling down his small face. "Stay?" he implored.

"Always," Fili whispered.

Thorin turned away from the brothers in the doorway, feeling pride and love vying for the upper hand in his chest, which suddenly felt tight. He knew in that instant that no matter how crazy they managed to drive him before they had grown – and maybe even after – he would give his life for his sister-sons if he had to. Closing the door softly, he leaned against it, his eyes fluttering shut, his mind replaying their last words.

Stay?

Always.

A/N: Reviews?