This is a sequel to my story A Manly Problem, but it can also be read alone. Enjoy!
A Girly Problem
Kili inspected the rabbit leg he was eating, ensuring he had gotten every speck of meat off the bone before tossing it aside.
Fili watched from across the flames of their campfire, an amused expression on his face. "You shouldn't do that, you know."
"Leave waste lying around our camp. Might attract a predator."
Kili furrowed his brow. "Predator? Like what? We're barely a mile from the settlement."
Fili shrugged. "You never know."
Considering his words, Kili glanced around the camp then gathered up all of the discarded bones from dinner before burying them a few feet away. When he was finished, he walked back into the light of the campfire, dusting off his hands and sitting down with a satisfied sigh. "Now we have nothing to worry about."
Kili gave Fili a proud smile, only to find his brother smirking.
Kili furrowed his brow. "…What?"
Fili shrugged. "Nothing."
Wondering if he had something stuck on his face, Kili patted his cheek, then checked the rest of him for any glaring oddity.
Fili let out a loud, contented sigh as he stretched out on the other side of the flames, his arms folded behind his head. "Sure is nice to relax."
Kili slowly narrowed his eyes. "That's it, isn't it?"
"What?" Fili asked innocently.
"You just scared me into doing all the clean-up."
Fili smirked. "Worked didn't it? And did you just say scared?"
Fili propped himself up on his elbows. "Yes, you did – you just admitted that you were – "
Kili busied himself by unrolling his blanket. "It was a figure of speech."
Kili glared at him across the flames and Fili merely smiled that smug smile that always set Kili's teeth on edge. "You look stupid when you do that, you know."
"Do what?" Fili made his smile even smugger.
Kili scrabbled in the dirt a moment until he found a pinecone then raised his hand threateningly.
"Whoa, resorting to violence so quickly," Fili chuckled, raising a hand to defend himself. "Looks like someone takes after Uncle Thorin after all."
Kili hesitantly lowered his arm. "Not likely."
Fili made a show of hiding behind his hands while the pinecone was set aside before peeking out. "Is it gone?"
"You're a real pest, you know that?" Kili said, lying down on his blanket.
Fili arched a brow. "Says the pot to the kettle."
Kili smirked crookedly. "Poor Mum."
"Yeah, imagine how difficult it must be for her. Having a gopher for a sun."
"Meaning yourself, of course."
"At least she never mistook you for a human." Fili chuckled only to find Kili's smoldering eyes fixed on him. "Really? We're not laughing about that yet?"
Kili grunted and flopped onto his back.
"Allow me to put things into perspective," Fili offered, rolling onto his stomach and peering at his brother's profile. "Though you don't remember it… it's not the first time you've been mistaken for… something else."
Kili let out a disgusted guffaw. "What, did Mum think I was a hedgehog and shove me back in?"
"Close, but not quite."
Kili turned his disgusted face to his brother. "You're making this up."
Fili slowly shook his head. "If only I were, dear brother… if only I were…"
Many Years Earlier
Fili was never prouder than the moment his father placed a hand on his shoulder and told him that he had a little brother. His excitement was so high that it couldn't be dimmed, not even when he discovered that his brother was a lump of small red potato with a mess of black hair.
He strutted about the village proudly telling everyone he met that he had become a big brother, but that no one could see the baby yet as he was too small to do anything. The other adult dwarves had been happy for him, but his fellow youngsters only offered passing "Lucky you," comments and didn't seem to understand that his whole world had changed.
It took a while, but Kili eventually got old enough to sit up on his own and play the laughing game. It was fairly simple. Fili would do something as mundane as sweeping and his baby brother would laugh. One time, Fili walked by naked and the baby laughed so hard that he fell over.
Once Kili was mobile, however, everything changed. The house was suddenly a battlefield, and everything that wasn't nailed down had to be put out of reach. As such, their mother was often wrestling Kili into a pile of blankets then sticking him in a basket which Fili then took outside with him on walks.
On the first such occasion, Fili was carrying his little brother and reminding himself over and over not to swing the basket since there was a person in it, when he was stopped by a neighbor.
The elderly dwarf woman grinned toothlessly. "Is this the new little one?"
"Yep," Fili had proudly held the basket high enough for the old woman to see his sibling's face.
Kili had been rather bored until he saw a face in front of him, at the sight of which he promptly squealed and kicked his blankets.
"Oh what a charming little…" The old woman trailed off as she took in the thick black hair sticking every which way on the baby's head. She held a hand over her mouth. "No one said – I didn't know… oh this is wonderful, just wonderful!"
Fili furrowed his brow and looked down at his brother who was chewing on one of his fingers.
"You have a little sister! Oh, blessed be Durin."
Fili knew that female dwarves were very rare and only made up a third of their village. He opened his mouth to correct her when she cut him off.
"You must be so proud. You really are special, you know that, Fili?"
To be honest, he hadn't gotten much attention at home ever since the potato was born, and getting praise from an adult felt so good that Fili lied. "Isn't she beau-teee-ful?"
"Oh, just gorgeous. Hilde, come and see Dis' baby girl!"
Before Fili knew it, a crowd had gathered. From that day on, his mother didn't have to ask for him to take Kili out on walks – he volunteered, sometimes more than once a day. And he often returned home with sweets and gifts.
It wasn't long before Dis became suspicious and blocked his path one afternoon.
"Fili," she said. "What has you so eager?"
Fili shrugged innocently. "I just like having time alone with him."
Dis arched a brow. "Why did Hilde give you that honey cake yesterday?"
Fili thought of lying, but knew he would regret it. He sighed and studied his boots.
"Well?" his father asked, stepping into the room.
"I may have… sort of… let the villagers believe that Kili is… a… girl."
His father snorted, biting back a laugh. Dis furrowed her brow. "Why?"
"They all seemed so happy to think it. And they thought it made me extra-special."
"Fili, that is a lie, and lying means – "
But whatever Dis was going to say was cut off by her husband crouching before his sons. "What your mother is trying to say, son, is that if you're gonna lie, do it right."
Dis's eyes widened in shock.
Her husband tied a purple bow onto a shock of Kili's hair then slapped Fili on the back. "Now, see if you can't get me one of those honey cakes this time." He winked as he shoved his boys out the door. It closed just before Dis launched into a lecture.
Fili smiled. Kili did look rather pretty with the bow in his hair, and the baby was grinning up at him with slimy lips, grabbing at his toes as if he liked it.
Kili stared at his older brother in shock, and after having bit on his lip, it was nearly as shiny as it was that spring day in his babyhood, making Fili laugh.
"You're lying," Kili accused with a pointed finger.
"Wish I was."
"No, no – you're lying. I know your lying face. This is just like the time you claimed they named me Kili because they loved you so much that they wanted another Fili, so the closest thing they could do was copy your name."
Fili shrugged. "Can't say I disagree with them."
Kili shook his head, dismissing his brother's attitude. "You know how I know you're lying? Because when we were bigger, Waldor asked me if I was a boy or girl." Kili fixed Fili with a smug expression.
Fili furrowed his brow. "How does that make any sense?"
"Well, I set the record straight."
"Yeah, you know why?" Fili snorted. "Because Waldor was hiding a bouquet behind his back. He was hoping you were a girl and wanted to get a head start in courting you."
If possible, Kili's face was even more disgusted than it had been when the bowman's daughter mistook him for a human.
"I do feel bad about that," Fili said, propping himself up on his elbows. "I really do. Mum was too embarrassed to tell everyone that her son and husband were lying to the entire village, so none of us ever really said anything. You just sort of… grew up, and people wondered."
Kili looked as if he'd been told of their dog's death all over again.
"Oh, don't be so dramatic," Fili said, waving a hand dismissively. "Everyone ought to have it straight by now. It's been years since Waldor's asked me if I'm certain you're a boy…" Fili furrowed his brow. "Wait, no, that happened again just before we left…"
"Why in Durin's name would he even have to ask?" Kili's voice had taken on the high-pitched quality that only happened when he was at his wit's end. If Fili didn't force his brother's voice into a squeak at least once a day, then he was a failure. "Isn't it obvious?"
"Well, maybe not so. Everyone says you look like Mum."
Kili's mouth was agape and his complexion was rather pale.
"And… I may have… possibly… answered that I wasn't sure every once in a while when he'd ask after you and I had been in a fight…"
Kili dragged the coals of his eyes to his brother's face. "I can't believe you."
"Hey – no harm done. All's well that ends well." He tried a smile. Kili continued to look as if he couldn't get the thought of Waldor out of his head. "Makes being mistaken for a human man seem a lot better, huh?"
Fili slowly smiled.
Kili met his gaze then narrowed his eyes. "So you were lying?"
"I certainly was not. But it worked, didn't it?"
Kili scowled down at his hands. "Now I have a whole new problem."
"It's over and done with. It's not a problem at all."
"Oh? I'd like to see how you'd like it if you found out everyone thought you were Mummy Jr." Kili scowled.
"If I were you, I'd be flattered. After all, it was said that Mum was the fairest in the land."
The pinecone that hit Fili's head actually hurt.
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