Prompt: "Fili and Kili share a night watch. They separate for a few minutes (checking opposite sides of the camp? getting a refill on a mug of tea?)... and that's the moment an orc patrol makes its stealthy attack, encountering only one watchman. To take the camp in its sleep, they'll have to kill him silently, and the best way to do that is to sneak up and strangle him. So when the other brother returns, he finds his brother struggling against an orc's grip on his throat, and a dozen more orcs just behind.

I'm not picky who's getting strangled and who's doing the rescuing. No actual death, please, though it can be a pretty close call, and no Fili/Kili, just good ol' brotherly feels."


The night watch is, quite possibly, Kíli's least favorite part about adventuring. Of course, there's things like trolls and goblins and no proper beds or dinners or baths. Kíli is certain that his stink precedes him, even though he has become so accustomed to the stench of the company that he cannot smell it himself anymore. He's hungry most of the time, including right now, and they have to tough it out when it rains, no matter how cold. Even considering all of this, Kíli thinks that night watch is still probably the worst of the lot.

It's dreadfully boring on a good night. On a bad night, he might end up tied in a sack, waiting to be squashed to jelly by a pack of trolls who smell only slightly worse than he does. In either case, he usually spends a good deal of time watching everyone else sleep while he cannot.

"I do enjoy sitting the night watch with you, Kíli," says his brother, perched on a worn boulder a few feet away. Fíli's smile is teasing when Kíli meets his eyes. "It's always so pleasant watching you pout."

"I'm just tired," Kíli defends. And hungry and achey and sitting the night watch. He probably is pouting. Kíli makes a concentrated effort to hold an expression that isn't obviously pouty but, after a moment at it, Fíli laughs and asks what he's doing, so he stops. Fíli still laughs at him, though.

"That's the same face you wore that night you got your hands on Gandalf's pipe," Fíli says of Kíli's efforts. Kíli remembers that night, though only barely, and he thinks that if he had a pipe loaded up with the wizard's leaf right now, night watch might not be so bad.

It is marginally better, at least, when Kíli gets to sit with his brother. Fíli is a familiar and comfortable conversation partner and Kíli knows what sorts of things make him laugh or what topics will start more in depth discussions. Fíli teases him, like he's always done, but Kíli doesn't mind it because Fíli is never serious about any of it. They can even be comfortably silent together, something that Kíli had not realized he valued until coming along on this venture.

A snapping sound in the undergrowth draws Kíli's attention but, when he looks, there is nothing else to keep it. It is a quiet night, without even a breeze to stir the tall grasses, and Kíli feels hyperaware of each tiny sound. His sleeping companions snore or cough or mumble and, beneath that, the soft sounds of life in the forest are ambiguous. That could be the sound of a squirrel, moving through the leaves, or it could be the quiet step of some careful attacker. It might be an animal out there, occasionally snapping twigs, or it might be something else. Often enough, it's been the squirrel or the forest animal and the nightly noises of the wood have left nothing substantial behind to worry about.

Kíli pulls his eyes away from the verge and looks back out over the sleeping forms of their companions. He always finds it amusing, the metamorphosis undergone by hardened warriors when they lay down to sleep. Dwalin's feet move all night long, kicking like a dreaming puppy, and he whistles when he snores. Everywhere he looks, his companions are drowsing with open mouths, muttering unintelligibly, or drooling. Even Thorin gives up his regal bearing at night and snores and snuffles with the rest. Kíli never bothers to worry about the fact that, on other nights, he is the one looking silly to the watch. He's asleep, then, and doesn't care.

"One moment," Kíli looks up again at the sound of Fíli's voice. "I'm going to go and visit the bushes," he says, climbing down from his perch on the boulder.

"I'll be right here," Kíli assures him, just a little bit dryly. He'll be here. Not asleep or anything.

Kíli yawns and shifts in his spot, as Fíli disappears into the undergrowth. His head feels heavy and his eyes burn and water just a bit. There's nothing at all comfortable about laying in the dirt but Kíli's ready for it. Closing his eyes sounds like it would be the most satisfying thing in the world but Fíli's only stepped away for a moment and Kíli can't risk being caught in a nap so he shakes his head and rubs his eyes. He's distracted enough, trying to keep himself awake, that a second snap in the bushes almost fails to catch his attention.

When it does, he brushes it off as Fíli. Then, he considers the direction it had come from and brushes it off as some nocturnal creature, instead. He's alone now, though, and that hyperawareness is back. Frowning, Kíli pushes up to his feet and decides to have a peek, even if only to make himself feel better.

The next thing he knows he is on his back on the ground beneath a terrible weight that knocks his breath from him. There are hands on his throat before he even quite realizes that the creature on top of him is humanoid and by the time the murky black eyes have met his own, Kíli is helplessly pinned, struggling for air.

The orc's grip is crushing and his weight is more than Kíli can fight against. Out of the corner of his eye, Kíli sees Bilbo, sleeping only feet away from him and he slaps frantically at the dirt, trying to alert the hobbit. His wrist is grabbed and held, though, and the grip on his throat tightens. He can't cry out and he can't breathe and even though he is surrounded by his companions, he cannot wake them. His vision begins to blur and the weight of the orc begins to feel even more impossible as Kíli's strength fades. By Mahal, he might really die right here, just barely out of arm's reach from his nearest companion. Things seem to have slowed down around him and darkened and the sounds of the night are overtaken by the white noise filling his ears.

And then suddenly, the awful pressure is gone. There is a sickening crunch and Kíli opens his eyes just in time to see the evil black face, indeed the entirety of the creature's black head, knocked clean off its neck by the business end of Fíli's warhammer. The older dwarf has a fierce look on his face that Kíli has never seen there before and his grip on his weapon is white knuckled. The now headless body on top of Kíli collapses and, then, many things happen all too quickly for Kíli to take account of them.

"Wake up! Up!" Fíli's voice is high and clear and startles all of their companions to wakefulness in what looks like the nick of time. Orcs are pouring out of the trees like water, though, and the fight gets an awfully messy start with people scrabbling for weapons and Kíli gagging in the grass beneath a headless orc. He struggles out from under the corpse, doing his best to draw breaths that burn his throat like fire. There is fighting all around, and the clashing of steel against steel, and Kíli thinks that if he doesn't find his weapon and get his feet under him, he's going to end up dying anyway. They are outnumbered and taken unawares and, even with all of their collective skill, it is a nasty fight. Fili is standing over him, wielding his two wicked blades, now, trying to give Kíli a chance to recover. Kíli watches him take down orc after orc, dazedly, and by the time he manages to draw his own blade, still reeling and dizzy, his companions have cut a mighty swathe through their attackers. When the last orc falls, Kíli is glad that he can claim at least a few of the grizzled bodies.

"Are you all right, Kíli," Fíli wants to know, after, all of that new fierceness replaced by the brother that Kíli knows. He looks concerned and his eyes keep turning to Kíli's aching throat. "That beast nearly got you, didn't he?"

Kíli opens his mouth to answer, but his voice is hoarse and trying to speak hurts, so he closes his mouth again and nods his head.

"What happened?" They are interrupted by Thorin's commanding voice and Kíli looks up to see his uncle, spattered with black blood and looking more than a little harried. His eyes drift and settle at Kíli's throat as well and they soften just slightly before Thorin is their captain again. Kíli lifts his hands a little self-consciously, feeling the abused skin there.

Fíli tells his side of the story, since most of the details are there, and Kíli fills in the blanks with a voice that's a little raw and raspy. When Dwalin hears that Fíli's first hammer swing had knocked off an orc's head, he hoots with laughter and claps Fíli on the back. The story does make Fíli out to be rather impressive (Kíli is terribly impressed with him, at the very least) and Fíli looks pleased with the attention, even if it is short lived.

"We'll have to walk on for the night," Thorin says, and Kíli feels his heart drop. "There could be more orcs coming this very moment. Pack your things, quickly, so we can move."


By the time they stop again, it is only a few hours before dawn. Kíli doesn't wait for anyone else, or for food or drink or discussion, he just drops himself into the grass, rests his head on his crossed arms, and closes his eyes without even bothering to remove his belt or his sheathed sword, or the bow on his back.

"I was going to see if he wanted some tea," Bilbo says, quietly, as though he thinks Kíli might already be asleep.

"No fires," Thorin answers, in that impersonal tone he always seems to use with the hobbit. It makes Kíli feel a bit bad because Bilbo is a kind sort, even if he is ill equipped for a venture like theirs. He hears the sound of Thorin's heavy bootfalls moving away and then he feels the tug of his weapons as they are slipped from their bindings, carefully.

"It was a kind thought," Fíli says, the same reassuring tone in his voice that he once used whenever Kíli had drawn Thorin's ire without meaning to. "I'm sure he'll appreciate a cup later, though."

"I would," Kíli says, just to let them both know he's still awake.

"Oh good," Bilbo answers. He starts to tell Kíli about some tea in particular that he's been carrying in his pack since leaving the Shire but before Kíli's heard much more than, 'chamomile,' he actually is asleep.

When he awakes, it is from some dark dream that he can't remember very clearly and, worse than that, he is quite embarrassed to discover that his face is in Fíli's lap. He sits up with a groan, rubbing at his eyes, and not bothering to hide his scowl when he spots Fíli smirking at him.

"I didn't do it, so I don't know why you're making that awful face at me," Fíli says, looking amused. "I was just sitting here discussing teas with Master Baggins and suddenly I had a lap full of stinking dwarf."

Kíli has a retort lined up about exactly what sort of flower Fíli smells like but his throat hurts worse than before and he doesn't feel like trying to say that many words at once. He frowns at Fíli instead.

"You can't talk, can you?"

Kíli clears his throat. "A bit, maybe," he rasps.

Fíli makes a funny little noise in the back of his throat and his mouth quirks as though he's trying not to smile. "I finally have you shut up and I can't even take any real pleasure in it. Blast the orcs." Kíli can't help but notice, despite Fíli's cheer, how tired he looks and he wonders – between the ill-fated night watch and Kíli, apparently, crawling into his lap – whether or not his older brother has managed to get any shut eye, himself.

Thorin has allowed a small fire for Kíli's tea and what mostly unsatisfying breakfast they can scrounge up. Bilbo's tea from the Shire is quite good and feels lovely going down, and it makes it a little easier to swallow a few bites of whatever mysterious breakfast stew Bombur has cooked up. Kíli doesn't feel fantastic when it's time to set off again but he feels better and he's definitely not dead and he's got a good week before he'll be up for night watch again. Fíli is at his side and he's not dead either.

All in all, Kíli reckons, things could really be worse.