AN: Why do these stories keep popping into my head because of songs? Well, they just do, I suppose. This one latched on to me while listening to 'Way Down Yonder in the Minor Key', a lovely little song by Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie. Give it a listen, and once I get into some later chapters you'll see what I mean.

This will be a sweet and humorous little multi-chapter insight, I hope. Please enjoy & please review!

"Just let me put a braid in-"

"I don't want any braids!"

"Alright, how about just a couple of divided sections with a band or two?"

"Leave it, Fili! I'm not you!"

"Ok, ok," Fili backed away, hands out in a gesture of truce, and went back to the thick, furry hides that he had been working before his brother's unwarranted interruption.

Kili had come into his room only moments before, looking broody and carrying two steaming mugs of cider. Handing one off to his brother, he had dropped uninvited into a cushioned chair and sat moodily staring at a vacant spot on the wall. He had just come in from the practice fields, stinking, sweaty, and covered in mud, and Fili had cringed when he saw the tangled mat of his younger sibling's hair. It was his well-intentioned offer to tame the unruly nest with a few fashionable braids that had started the argument.

Fili studied his uncharacteristically downtrodden brother as he slumped in his chair. It was unlike him to be quite so churlish.

Kili looked away from his spot on the wall. "What would be the point, anyway?" he mumbled, swinging a booted foot idly and returning to their conversation. "It's not like you could add one to match in my beard." He rubbed the meager stubble on his chin with a thoughtful, dejected air.

"Oh, so that's what this is all about." Fili put down his furs and turned his full attention to Kili's downcast face. "Don't think so much on it, Kili, it'll come in when it's ready. You know, Thorin hasn't all that much beard to speak of himself."

"Don't let him hear you say that!" Kili smiled in spite of himself.

"Of course not! I intend to live to a ripe old age."

The brief smile slid from Kili's face. "That's not it, anyway."

"Well, what is it then? Don't make me drag it out of you."

Kili stared down at his hands for a long moment before answering. "She doesn't look at me," he said finally.

Fili was at a loss. "Who doesn't?"

"Brede. I must pass her at least twice a day, and she never even looks up. She doesn't even know that I'm alive." Kili frowned into his mug of cider.

Oh. Brede, the pretty little potter's daughter. So Kili had taken a shine to her.

Fili turned back to the task spread out on the table before him and carried on the rest of their conversation over his shoulder. "Then forget about her. Eylia looks at you plenty," he pointed out slyly.

"Eylia! She scares the living daylights out of me. I don't think there's a dwarf here who could stand up to that one."

"Quite literally," Fili snorted. "She's nearly as tall as Gandalf the Grey."

"And twice as mouthy. She could cow Thorin himself."

"Yes, you're right, you're no match for her." Fili sniggered.

"Shut it, you." Kili drained the last of his cider and stood, stretching loudly. "I'm going out to curry Brassy. D'you want me to do Pluck as well?"

"He could use it before we head out tomorrow. I'm just going to finish up on these furs. I think they'll do nicely for the trim on a coat." He turned and held up the furry hides for Kili's inspection.

"Wolf?" Kili asked, and Fili nodded proudly. "Aye, you'll be positively regal. You'd best watch yourself, you're becoming quite the dandy." Kili flicked one of Fili's golden braids and swiftly ducked out the door, grinning broadly as a greasy, wadded up rag whizzed by him, dangerously close to his own unadorned head.

Brede, thought Fili, shaking his head after Kili had gone. Leave it to his brother to shoot for the stars. Brede was pretty and sprightly, and there wasn't a dwarf under the mountains who wasn't determined to earn her attentions.

He loved his brother more than anything, but if he were forced to be honest, Fili would have to admit that for a dwarf, Kili was a bit homely. Most dwarves of his year were already sporting thick, full beards, albeit on the short side, while Kili had only the lightest shadow of fine hair beginning to sprout along his jaw. Where the others were short and stout and stockily built, Kili was relatively tall and lean. He didn't even have the proper bearing of a dwarf; Instead of a suitably lumbering stroll, Kili darted about in quick, flashing leaps and bounds throughout the halls of Ered Luin.

His poor brother didn't stand a chance with the lovely Brede.

Laughter echoed through the great hall. An animated group made up of mostly young dwarf men and a few young dwarf ladies had gathered there, relieved to enjoy a brief moment of freedom sandwiched between the drudgery of the morning and the upcoming chores of midday.

Kili hovered near the edge of this group staring fixedly at Brede, who chatted and laughed with her companions, completely oblivious to his presence. Her dark eyes ran over him once and his heart skipped a beat before they continued past and rose over his shoulder. She waved, and her face lit up with a smile. Scowling, Kili turned to see who or what had garnered such a favorable reaction from her.

With a voice already deep and booming, Gimli greeted his older cousin briefly before joining Brede and her friends at the center of their little circle. Kili hesitated uncertainly for a moment, but when no one else looked his way, he turned and strode off for the stables.

Brassy was waiting and nickered in welcome as Kili slid back the bolt to his stall. He snorted affectionately and lipped at the back of Kili's neck with his soft, whiskery mouth as he went to the pony's side to apply the curry brush.

"Well at least someone is glad to see me," he laughed, moving the brush in even circles and shooing the pony from his attempt at eating his hair. Brassy tossed his head appreciatively. "Even if that someone has four legs and a tail."

Kili finished up with Brassy and moved on to Pluck, who stood placidly as he brushed. Brassy snorted and stamped in his stall, jealous of Kili's attention, but he quieted down once he was appeased by an offering of a pail of oats. "It's no wonder you're such a terror, I shouldn't reward you for being such a bossy little git." Kili said, then set out a bucket for Pluck to enjoy as well.

"We'll give you boys a good run tomorrow. It's off to Harlond for a bit of trading, and if you don't act like a total prat on the way I'll see if I can't find you a treat while we're there." This last comment was directed primarily at Brassy, who's eyes flicked up once at the mention of a treat before choosing to ignore Kili completely in favor of his bucket of oats. Sensing his dismissal, Kili left the ponies for the evening and headed for the archery range, determined to get in a few last shots before supper.

As he walked, he listened to the pleasant jingle of heavy coins in his purse and allowed himself to drift off into dreamy conjecture of the treasures that he might find in the Harlond markets. Somehow Brede's fair, laughing face kept finding its way into his thoughts, and by the time he joined Fili, Thorin and Dis in the hall for their meal he was downcast and gloomy once more.

Fili gave his brother one look over the dinner table and inwardly groaned. Kili was mooning morosely over his peas and Thorin was staring at him oddly. Aule preserve us from the hormones of dwarflings, he sighed as he jabbed his fork at a seasoned potato. He hoped that this sudden infatuation of Kili's wouldn't dampen their enjoyment of the upcoming trip.

If he gets too soppy once we get to Harlond, Fili thought, helping himself to a huge joint of meat, at least we'll be able to leave him there.

PS: I needed another story going like I need a hole in the head, but they're always pushing to get out while they're fresh. Anyone reading "Game", don't worry, that one is still right there on the surface! This one was just sort of blocking its way out for the moment.