Author's Note: Since seeing the Hobbit I have become quite obsessed with the idea of little toddler dwarves playing with their uncle Thorin, although this is a story set when they are grown up and it's not exactly fluffy… This is set just after the end of An Unexpected Journey – after Thorin is told how his nephews charged at the pale orc as he himself lay injured.

Disclaimer: Not mine. If it were there would be a happier ending for uncle Oakenshield and his beloved sister-sons.

An Uncle's Wish

"Your actions were reckless! What was going through your heads?"

"W…" Kili started but his brother gave him a swift kick, the older sibling knowing that their uncle's question was rhetorical.

"You could both have been killed!" Thorin continued, pacing back and forth in front of the two younger dwarves. Finally he stopped, bowing his head and running a hand over his face. "Go and rest, the pair of you."

Obediently the two brothers slipped away back to where the rest of the company had set up camp. Kili glanced back over his shoulder at his uncle but Thorin would not look back at them. Fili gently tugged on his younger brother's arm, leading him to what looked like a comfortable spot for them to spend the night. Back on the outskirts of the camp Thorin finally raised his head, staring out into the darkness that was surrounding them.

"They are their uncle's nephews, no one can deny that."

Thorin sighed quietly and looked to his side at Balin, the other dwarf too looking out into the darkness.

"They are too young to be here," Thorin returned his gaze outwards. "I should have left them behind."

"They are young, aye," Balin agreed. "But too old to leave behind. They are your heirs Thorin; they could not in good heart leave you to undertake this journey alone. Nor could they take your place on any throne they did not help you to reclaim."

Another quiet but heavy sigh escaped Thorin's lips as he looked back at his nephews. The two had sat down and the older was now tending to his little brothers battle wounds, although thankfully they were mostly superficial.

"They are the closest thing I have – will ever have – to children of my own," the dwarf admitted. "I do not know what I would do if I were to outlive them."

Balin nodded solemnly.

"And you are the father figure who they will follow to the ends of this earth," he pointed out. "If you had forbade them from coming they would have followed nonetheless. They are your nephews through and through, Thorin – loyal and strong willed."

Despite himself a small smile pulled on Thorin's lips.

"You mean stubborn."

"That too," Balin agreed, he too allowing a faint smile as the other dwarf turned away from his nephews to gaze back out into the darkness. When Thorin did speak again his voice was uncharacteristically quiet – almost inaudible.

"Is it bad to pray that if one should fall…" his voice grew quieter still. "That the other should fall too?"

Balin inhaled deeply but his head bowed in a slow nod as he glanced back over his shoulder at the brothers, the younger now cleaning a small cut on Fili's shoulder.

"The last time I saw Fili without Kili he was four years old," Balin turned his attention to Thorin. The other dwarf's eyebrow arched.

"The last time I saw Fili without Kili he was four years old. He was running around after his mother, speaking to her stomach and wishing that his new sibling would arrive soon and praying it would be a little brother for him to play with," Thorin shook his head tiredly. "I just cannot imagine one without the other. They would be lost."

"Indeed they would," Balin agreed solemnly. Once again Thorin looked back toward the camp.

"I can still remember when they were born. I could hold them in one hand," Thorin sighed tiredly as Kili looked up, but the young dwarf quickly dropped his gaze, his dark brows furrowing slightly. "He smiles less and less every day," the dwarf paused as Balin nodded, not needing to turn round to know who in particular Thorin referred to. The Durin heir turned back towards the darkness again. "I remember his first smile – although it was not for me," Thorin's lips curled faintly towards a smile of his own. "It was not even for his mother or father."

Balin chuckled quietly.

"For Fili?" he nodded knowingly, not even needing to look at the other dwarf for confirmation. Thorin set his lips thoughtfully.

"Was I too hard on them?" he sighed tiredly as Balin simply tilted his head. Thorin bowed his head. "I should go and speak with them."

The elder dwarf easily made his way across the camp towards his nephews. The two younger dwarves looked up briefly before looking away quickly.

"Are either of you hurt?" Thorin asked, taking a seat behind the two. Both shook their heads, again looking up to meet their uncle's eyes although again it was brief. Thorin looked over the two quickly and nodded. Neither showed any great concern for the other so he took their word that they were unhurt. The older dwarf took a deep breath, focusing his attention on the ground between the two brothers. "My tone earlier was harsh and for that I apologise."

"We will be more careful," Fili promised, Kili nodding silently. Thorin noted that it was not a promise to stop rushing headfirst into danger on his behalf – but he took it nonetheless.

"I look forward to the day when we reclaim Erebor," the elder said instead, taking a seat between the two but behind them so as not to separate them, the three sitting now in a triangle. Fili and Kili bowed their heads in agreement to the familiar statement before their uncle continued. "I look forward to sitting in the royal halls… with my nephews by side," the two nephews in question blinked rapidly, turning to look at Thorin – never before had he said such a thing. Thorin continued, looking over the two younger dwarves in turn. "And it is my wish that I die an old, old dwarf, knowing that my kin…" a firm hand was placed on Fili's shoulder. "…is there to take my place," he looked at the older of the two brothers sincerely before turning to Kili, offering him the same sincere look. "With his brother there to offer him council," Thorin paused to acknowledge the appreciative looks in his nephew's eyes before he leant back, a smirk gracing his lips. "Although the wisdom of this council would be highly questionable."

"Hey!" Kili pouted as Fili chuckled. Thorin too let out a low laugh, reaching over and ruffling the younger brother's hair. Kili tried to bat him away, but the gesture was half hearted, a smile pulling on his lips as for a moment the three let themselves forget about their current predicament.

On the outskirts of the camp Balin observed their leader and his heirs, his lips too curling upward as he watched the three settle to rest for the night. He glanced to the side as he saw his own brother approaching.

"If we lose one, we lose all three, don't we?" Dwalin half asked, half stated. Balin sighed wearily.

"I fear so," he half answered, half agreed. "There is nothing they would not do to defend each other… or I dare say avenge each other."

Dwalin too let out a heavy sigh before clapping a hand onto the elder's shoulder.

"Rest, brother."

Balin gave a small nod and followed his taller sibling back towards the camp, allowing just one last glance toward Thorin and his two nephews. Who knew what lay ahead of them next.