So you know that scene in the book, that goes something along the lines of, "Pony falls into river, Fili and Kili are nearly drowned, all the food is washed away?"
Yeah. I wrote a thing.
"Do you suppose he's still angry?" Kili asked his brother quietly.
Fili glanced up the trail towards Thorin, walking at the head of the group, shoulders hunched against the wind. He could not see his uncle's face, but Fili had little doubt the older dwarf was wearing his usual stormy scowl.
He looked back at Kili, saw within the space of a second the tightness around his eyes, the slight furrowing of his dark brows. Fili's younger brother could shrug off most reprimands with a rueful grin and a heart-wrenchingly genuine apology, but a dressing down by Thorin was exceptionally hard to swallow. Thorin was his hero ("just a tiny bit below you," he had assured Fili when they were both very young), and to have disappointed him was devastating.
Fili smiled and punched him lightly on the shoulder. "By Aüle, aren't you a sorry sight? If your face freezes in that position you'll be in real trouble."
His brother chuckled, elbowing him in the ribs. "Still better looking than you."
"What a terrible thing to say. Mother would be absolutely appal–"
A resounding crack! alerted them of the danger. The group looked up as one, to see a branch of the mighty oak they were walking under hanging by what seemed barely a thread.
"Move!" Thorin roared, and sent them all scuttling. Fili grabbed Kili and dragged him backwards against the tree's roots.
Not a moment too soon, either. As the group scrambled clear of the path, the branch broke off with a sound like a thunderclap and came crashing to the ground. Fili and Kili, sheltered amongst the roots, looked at each other and grinned at their near miss. They were still young, and excitable enough to find almost being crushed by a tree branch exhilarating.
The ponies, however, were not so impressed.
They baulked and reared at the deafening crash, and the most skittish among them (Myrtle? No, Myrtle was with Bilbo, perhaps Wilfred then?) bolted down the track. As it did so, the earth beneath its hooves crumbled and gave way, tipping it straight into the river with a panicked whinny.
"Wilfred!" cried Bilbo.
"The food!" howled Bombur.
Fili was immediately on his feet, reaching out to help his brother up, but his hand met empty air. "Kili?" He spun around to see Kili vault over the branch, throw off his quiver and take a running leap into the river, letting out a loud whoop before he hit the water. "Kili!"
His shout was echoed by Thorin, albeit a lot more forceful and at least ten times angrier, and when Fili skidded to a halt at the river's edge his uncle was by his side. They were soon joined by the rest of the group, who stood calling out encouragement as Kili managed to get a hold of Wilfred's bridle and half push, half coax him towards the shore. He clung to a nearby boulder, grinning like a loon, as Bofur and Nori crept their way down the crumbling riverbank and took charge of dragging Wilfred out. The company, Fili included, let out a mighty cheer when the pony finally reached solid ground.
Thorin glanced between his two nephews, their identical foolish grins and bright-eyed expressions, and sighed. "You and your brother will be the death of me," he growled to Fili, rubbing a hand across his tired eyes. "Somebody fish him out!"
If he had looked up then he might have seen the hollow log hurtling down the river towards his youngest nephew. But he didn't look up, and he did not see it, and neither did anyone else. By the time they did it was already too late.
The log rammed into Kili with a sickening crunch, slamming him against the boulder and tearing him away from it in the same motion. Then Kili's head disappeared under the water, and he was out of their line of sight.
Fili's smile vanished. "Kili?" he cried, moving closer to the river.
But his brother was gone, and the water was still.
Barely pausing to unbuckle his swords, Fili ducked under his uncle's restraining hand and dove headfirst into the river. Trust Kili to need rescuing. Little brother had always needed rescuing, ever since they were pint-sized.
The water was shockingly cold, and he lost his first breath in a shocked yelp. He surfaced briefly, looking around desperately for a familiar mop of hair. "Kili!" he yelled. Thorin was cursing at him from the shore, saying things that would've earned him a stern lecture from Dís, but Fili ignored him and let the river drag him down.
Thorin watched from the path as he lost both nephews to the murky water of the swollen river, and cursed them both to Harad and back. How was the line of Durin to survive, if two such reckless idiots were what it depended on? Reckless since birth, Thorin thought. Fili had been a handful to begin with, but then his parents had given him a devilish little flint-eyed partner in crime, and Thorin wondered if there had ever been an uneventful day in his sister's house since. Fear was palpable on his tongue, the special kind of bitter anxiety that was reserved especially for his nephews. He felt his heart clench. By Aüle, he loved those boys, useless heirs or not.
A second later he was shrugging off his coat and moving towards the riverbank. That recklessness had come from somewhere, after all.
Then Fili broke the surface, and Thorin could breathe again, because there was a mop of dark un-braided hair beside him.
Fili slung his brother's arm over his shoulder, struggling to keep his head above water. The shore seemed a mile away. He could see the rest of the group, led by Thorin, racing along beside the river, but the current was strong and the river flowed fast, and soon they would be swept away. Fili cast his eyes about for something, anything that could slow them down. The banks were sheer where the water has cut straight through the earth; he could not climb them, and they offered no assistance.
"Kili!" he shouted. "Wake up, you dolt."
But his brother didn't answer, and his face was frightfully pale, and Fili thought that he might not be breathing.
"Don't you dare, little brother." Fili searched around with greater desperation for an escape, and found it in the form of the river bend. Against the relative shelter of the steep bank several boulders had come to rest, and Fili thought he might get some purchase on the rough stone. He angled himself towards the rocks and turned himself sideways, wrapping both arms tightly around his brother.
His shoulder took most of the impact, but Fili didn't even have time to register the pain before they were being dragged out into the centre of the river again. He scrabbled for a handhold on the boulders. He managed it somehow, on stone that was smoother than he'd thought, and when he looked up he could see Thorin was barely metres away. His grip slipped. No. He dug his nails in, clinging on with all the strength he had left. The current dragged him from the boulder. No.
He lashed out with one hand towards the sheer riverbank.
By some miracle, his fingers closed around something solid.
Fili opened his eyes and saw the tree root protruding from the soil. It was slender, and it creaked ominously, but it held until there were footsteps from above and dirt was falling on Fili's head, and a hand was reaching down and hauling he and his brother out of the river.
Fili lay gasping on his back, exhausted from fighting the current and holding Kili's head above water. He turned onto his side and spat out a mouthful of muddy river water, felt the grit in his teeth and on his skin, and the dull ache in his shoulder where he'd smashed into the rocks. In a heartbeat his discomfort was forgotten; Kili lay beside him, as still and pale as death.
He pushed past Thorin with a broken, "No," and put his ear to his brother's chest. "Kili, please!" Kili did not reply, and neither did he breathe. In the background Fili could hear Thorin demanding of Gandalf to do something, anything, to bring his nephew back. A sudden, insurmountable rage built up inside of Fili, directed entirely towards his idiot brother. Selfish bastard thinks he can leave me here alone, does he? He's got another thing coming to him. And with that he brought his fist down as hard as he could over his brother's heart.
Kili jerked to life, rolling over onto his hands and knees and coughing up what must have been half the river. At long last he drew in a ragged breath.
"Well," said Gandalf mildly. "Not what I was going to suggest, but it seems to have done the trick."
Kili collapsed onto his back, dragging in one hoarse breath after another. There was blood in his hair, and a goodly number of twigs (for the river had brought with it much bracken from upstream), but apart from that he seemed to be fine. He cracked one eye open and saw Fili watching him with an anxious expression.
Kili managed a weak grin. "You'll not be rid of me that easily, big brother."
The anger drained from Fili as quickly as it had appeared, and he sank down beside Kili with a disbelieving laugh.
Thorin stared at his nephews, lying side by side like a pair of drowned rats, grinning at each other as if they'd just been on some fantastic adventure, and was lost for words. "I can't–" he began, and paused to take a deep breath through his nose. "I don't even–"
They both looked up at him, still grinning.
Thorin might have strangled them both, if he had not been so excruciatingly relieved. As it was he could only glare at them, fuming, seemingly too angry even for words. Their smiles faltered.
Kili struggled up onto his elbows, a tragically earnest expression on his face. "Uncle, I didn't mean to–"
With a furious growl Thorin pulled them both to their feet and wrapped them in his cloak, holding them close under the pretence of keeping them warm.
"Don't you ever do that to me again," he said with all the force he could muster, and he let relief colour his voice just the slightest, because he was afraid sometimes that his sister-sons thought him incapable of anything but anger.
There was a moment of silence, broken only by the quiet chortles and amused murmurs of the rest of the company, laughing at the reckless devotion of the youngest of the line of Durin to each other. Thorin feared he had scared his nephews with such a thinly veiled act of affection. But a moment later an arm had snaked its way around his back, and then another from the other side, and Fili and Kili had joined hands behind him. Thorin sighed and hugged them nearer.
Loyalty, honour, a willing heart, he'd told Balin.
It was clear that his nephews had enough of the former for the whole company.
Thanks so much for reading! All comments are super appreciated C: