"Where do you think you're going!" Fili yelled, his eyes flashing with anger.

"Anywhere away from you!" Kili snapped, his dark eyes smouldering as he yanked open the front door and stomped down the gravel path.

He shivered as the frigid air hit him and he immediately regretted not grabbing his fur-lined cloak. However, his pride stopped him from turning back, especially since he could hear irate footsteps stomping after him.

"Don't you dare walk away!" Fili roared, frightening a flock of birds that were trying to nestle peacefully in the garden. The birds flew away in a squawk of feathers, complaining loudly about being disturbed.

"It's not my fault!" Kili shouted, glaring fiercely. He was not going to cower before his brother, not when it wasn't even his fault.

"You must have done something!" Fili insisted, as he quickened his steps furiously after his brother. A tiny part of him was glad that the biting winter had kept most (sane) folks inside their cosy homes, so no one could witness the two heirs of Durin screaming their heads off at each other.

Shaking off the brittle snowflakes that were settling on his face, Fili scowled as he followed his brother, stomping through huge piles of snowdrifts.

For a while, the two brothers stalked through the snowy landscape in silence, shivering as each strong gust of wind bit through their clothes to their skin, but stubborn enough to not be the first to return to their cosy home.

Finally, Kili stopped and turned around to face his older brother defiantly.

Crossing his arms to stop them from shivering with cold, he said in a trembling voice, "Fili, she was the one that asked me to braid her hair."

Narrowing his eyes, Fili gritted his teeth, "How could you do that!" He added in a betrayed, accusing tone, "when you know how much I like her."

"That's why I told her I wouldn't," Kili tried to stifle the sense of wronged injustice welling up inside him. "But she told me not to be shy and grabbed my hand."

"Shut up!" Fili growled, cutting his brother off. The rational part of his mind told him that his brother was telling the truth, that he wouldn't have intentionally hurt Fili. However, the irrational part of his mind was angry and insulted and wanted to lash out at someone, anyone.

"Fili, please believe me," Kili said softly, sticking his lower lips out in a pout.

"Just shut up," Fili sighed loudly, refusing to meet his brother's pleading eyes.

"Fili!" Kili's voice was so full of fear that Fili glanced at him in surprise. His eyes widened in dread when he suddenly realised that they were standing on a glittering bed of ice that had frozen over the lake.

Kili was standing gingerly as piercing spider webs spread ominously from his feet.

Fili immediately snapped into reassuring older brother mode. "Shhhh, it's all right," he said soothingly.

As pinpricks of cracks appeared relentlessly, Kili trembled, his dark eyes pleading with his older brother.

Swinging his head around frantically to look for anything useful, Fili rushed to pick up a stout oak branch. "Hold on, Kili," he yelled.

Just as he was sprinting back, there was a sickening crash and Kili disappeared from view.

"No no no no no!" Fili bit his lips so tightly pinpricks of crimson appeared.

Splashing violently, Kili managed to grab hold of the edge of the slippery, treacherous ice. His teeth chattering violently, he gasped for breath as he looked at the blurry outline of his brother.

"Kili, listen to me," Fili yelled. "Take slow, deep breaths. I'm coming, so wait for me. Breathe!"

Kili closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on his brother's words. Breathe, he repeated to himself.

Finally, he managed to slow down his hyperventilating and black spots disappeared from his gaze. Shaking violently from the cold that was seeping deep into his bones, he tried to remain calm and focus on the determined face of his brother.

Lying down flat on the ice, Fili slowly inched towards his brother, with the branch held firmly in his hands. His stomach clenched as he saw Kili's face pale with shock, ice flakes forming on his dark eyelashes.

"Grab the branch, Kili," Fili urged, pushing the branch to him as close as he could.

Kili made a faint grab for the branch but his stiff fingers slipped off it. "I can't," he shuddered miserably. "I'm so cold," he whispered desperately, tears welling up in his eyes.

"Please, Kili, try again," Fili pleaded with him. "For me. For our mother."

A light sparked in Kili's eyes as he took a deep breath and lunged again for the branch, barely managing to hook his fingers around it.

"Well done, Kili!" Fili shouted, "Hold on tight!"

Summoning all his strength, Fili gave a tremendous pull and yanked his brother out of the lake, sending him sprawling onto the ice.

Putting his arms under his soaking wet, violently shaking brother, Fili heaved him up and ran as fast as he could back to their house, ignoring his burning lungs.

"Don't go to sleep, Kili!" Fili panted, as he struggled to keep his footing even on the snowy path.

"I'm so tired," Kili mumbled, his head lolling against Fili's chest.

"Wake up!" Fili yelled, even though he felt more like bawling as his heart filled with fear.

"You're so bossy," Kili grumbled, his voice barely a whisper.

"Please just keep awake,' Fili prayed, racing up the front path of their house.

Kicking the front door open, Fili immediately deposited a barely conscious Kili on the floor next to the fireplace, stripping him of his wet clothes as fast as possible.

Grabbing woollen blankets, he wrapped up his younger brother tightly.

"I'm all right," a weak voice emerged from the mass of blankets as Kili struggled to sit up.

Fili grabbed his icy hands and tried to warm them up by rubbing them furiously. "I'm so sorry," Fili blurted out, guilt and relief washing over him.

"It's not your fault," Kili whispered faintly, trying to force a smile out of his chattering teeth.

Swallowing hard, Fili clasped Kili tightly against his chest, reassuring himself that he had been given a second chance, that he had not lost his little brother forever.

A cold hand sneaked out from the multiple blankets and twined around Fili's fingers.

Holding on tightly to Kili's hand, Fili vowed he would never let go again.