Prompt: Kili finds out that Fili is hurting himself (maybe whenever Kili sleeps with another dwarf or something?)

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Scarred

The first time Kili sees it he does not think anything of it. It is just a scrape, nothing to worry about. Dwarves are hardy creatures.

The second time he is not worried either, or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth for that instant.

However, he does start to think about it when he sees it happen more frequently and there is suddenly more than one scratch at a time on Fili's arms, scratches he hides beneath the long sleeves of his expensive tunic which comes with being heir to the Throne under the Mountain.

Kili does not say anything, though.

He has heard the stories, of course he has. Stories of men stopping eating and elves cutting their own wrists until their bodies are left blood- and lifeless. Yet, there is a difference between the fate of those lost souls and his brother. At least Kili hopes so.

Fili may be eating less than before they had won Erebor back, but he is not losing weight with every passing day. Neither has he had knives draw blood on purpose. No, he only (and Kili stumbles over that word even in his thoughts) scratches his arms until the skin is raw and bloodied. The scrapes leave behind little patches of new white skin, fine scars that disappear over the years. Kili has seen them come and go and he nearly drowns in the guilt that plagues him because he never dares to say anything about the matter.

It takes the black-haired prince more than three decades to figure out the pattern. And when he does so he finally confronts his brother.

"Fili, we need to talk."

Fili gives him the smile he gives to no one else, the smile that makes Kili's heart beat faster than it should and the blood rush to his ears.

The blond dwarf cocks his head and looks at him expectantly, waiting for the younger one to continue.

Kili gulps heavily. "About those scratches on your arms…"

He can almost watch his brother shut himself behind those walls that being the heir to Thorin's throne have taught him how to build. The normally bright blue eyes are dull and empty.

Kili's shoulders slouch. "Please, Fili. Talk to me. I cannot watch you hurt yourself any longer."

"Then look away." The words are guarded and the voice is emotionless.

The younger one shakes his head, desperate. "Talk to me, Fili. Please. I know that it has taken me much too long, but I have seen the reason for your self-harm, although I do not understand it. Why do you feel the need to hurt yourself whenever I lie with someone?" He has found bedding other dwarves whenever everything is too much to be the only way to contain himself and act like the brother Fili needs, not like the love-stricken fool he actually is.

Fili flinches when he hears his brother's words.

Kili's eyes are desperate. "Talk to me, please, Fili. There was a time we would have told each other everything." He tries not to think about that huge secret he has, that secret that will drive his brother away if he ever finds out about it.

The older one looks away, fists clenched. "That time is long gone." His blank façade is crumbling, but he still does not say anything.

Kili flinches. He knows that his brother does no longer tell him everything, of course he does, he only needs to look at the scratches and scars to know. It still hurts. He gulps heavily and suppresses those thoughts, not letting the pain show. He also ignores the tiny voice whispering Now you are not talking to him as well. There is no time to deal with his own pain now, he has to deal with Fili's first. He walks over to the blond prince, hesitantly reaching for his brother's hands, no matter how much this may make his heart ache. "Please," he whispers, again. "Talk to me. It hurts me to see you hurt." He really does not know what else to say.

Fili lifts his head ever-so-slowly, finally looking at him. He closes his eyes.

"Why?" The younger one squeezes those fingers he has not held like this for much too long.

Fili opens his eyes again, and something in him seems to be snapping. "Because I could not stand losing you." As soon as the words have left his mouth the blond prince whips around, pulling his hands away from his brother's, seemingly cursing himself for his rash answer.

Kili is genuinely confused. "Why would you lose me?" He walks around the older one until he faces him again, not daring to reach for the short, calloused fingers once more. It hurts.

Fili gnashes his teeth and shakes his head. Then he looks directly at his brother and suddenly his eyes are raw and filled with so many emotions. "I already have, but I am selfish and as long as you are with me during the days… I can imagine that I have not. However, when you… leave for the night…"

The black-haired dwarf finds himself forgetting to breathe upon all the truth written in his brother's eyes, however, the feelings seem to be translated to a language he does not understand. "You will never lose me, Fili," he swears. After all, leaving the older one behind in any way would simply be impossible for him. One can only take so much. But how could spending his nights with other dwarves mean losing him for Fili?

The heir to the Mountain takes a step back. "Do not give a promise you have already broken."

Kili is lost. His honour and pride are hurt – he would never break a promise, and less one given to his brother – but he does neither have the time nor the calmness to deal with that now. Fili is more important. He seems to finally be opening up to him and he cannot let that opportunity pass. However, he has no idea what he is supposed to do now. His brother is talking in riddles and all that he has found out so far is that those scratches on the older one's arms are his fault. He cannot let the guilt take over, though. Not now. But… Maybe he should just leave it… No. He has already done so for too long. However, that does not make anything any easier. He feels sick. "Fili," he begs. "I'd do anything for you. And I'd never break a promise. So please – tell me what I have done wrong and what I need to do for you to believe me. Because I cannot lose you either." He knows that he is giving away too much of his own emotions, but if this is the price for helping his brother he will gladly pay it. Even if the older one is going to hate him.

"Anything?" The doubt is unmistakable.

Kili feels his chest clench and suddenly breathing is harder than ever before. "Everything." Great. Another promise… one that will probably bring his well-protected secret to light.

There is something in Fili's eyes that looks like it may be a very hesitant flash of hope, but Kili could not be sure. His brother's voice is flat when he finally answers his question about those scratches, talking so slowly that Kili almost thinks it physically hurts the older one to say those words. "Sometimes… you just have to… destroy something." He looks away. "Preferably whatever it is that has brought you into the current situation in the first place."

"Sometimes?"

"When… everything is too much… and you can't bear it any longer."

Kili shakes his head, confused but terrified. What is it that his brother cannot bear? What is it that makes him hurt himself? "But why would you destroy your own body?"

The blond prince's eyes are darker than the younger one has ever seen them. "… Maybe because it is not good enough?"

The younger one gasps for air. "How could you ever be not good enough for anything? You are everything a dwarf can dream of!" You are everything I ever dream of.

Fili's laughter is bitter. "Quite obviously I am not."

"Who said so?"

When the older one does not answer Kili asks again. He is furious. "Who said so?" Nobody has the right to hurt his brother. And nobody has the right to drive him into hurting himself.

Fili shakes his head, eyes fixed on his fingers. "No one ever said so."

"Then why-"

"Actions speak louder than words."

"But who-"

Fili laughs again, even bitterer than before, and Kili shudders. He never wants to hear his brother make that noise ever again. It breaks his heart. "You really don't have any idea what I'm speaking about, do you?"

"No." Kili shakes his head, eyes pleading. "I don't." He thinks about the pattern and breaking promises and losing you and flinches. "It was something I did?"

He sees the affirmation in his brother's eyes although the older one does not say anything and stumbles backwards, shocked. This is really his fault? "Tell me," he begs, for what seems to be the hundredth time this evening. "Tell me and I'll stop it. I didn't know that I was hurting you, I never did! Please tell me, and I'll make up for it!"

Fili smiles sadly. "I know. I know you never intended to hurt me."

"But I did!"

"It's not your fault."

Kili shakes his head, exhausted. "Obviously it is. I should have known you well enough to see. So just tell me. Please?"

"I… don't want you to… lie with somebody else," Fili admits slowly, finally. He does not look at the younger one but turns to leave the room.

Again the young prince shakes his head, trying to capture the meaning of his brother's answer. He reaches for the older one's sleeve, holding him back. Fili does not want him to sleep around. Kili gasps for air and sees his brother wince. He has not missed the else. Is there hope? "You… want me to lie with… you?"

Fili's whole body is tense. "You promised I wouldn't lose you," he reminds the younger one instead of an answer.

However, it is everything Kili needs. "And you won't," the dark-haired prince agrees, unable to stop the grin from spreading.

Fili is still not looking at him. "Not even now, knowing what you do?"

"Now less than ever." He hesitates for a second but then wraps his arms around his brother's upper body, pulling him close. The older one is still trying to pass as a piece of wood or stone, however, he cracks one eye open. Kili is grinning widely. The shock has not passed – it is him who has made Fili scratch his own skin off! – but his heart is beating way too fast and too loud to give him any chance to concentrate on anything else than what he has just found out. "Fili," he whispers and he knows that his voice will tell the blond prince everything the older one needs to know.

Fili's head whips around and now he is staring at him, disbelief clearly written in his eyes. "You… You are…"

"Yes. But I found a different way of abreacting… whenever it was too much… I didn't know that it would hurt you."

"So… all of those dwarves…"

"Meant nothing to me."

The tension that has never left Fili's body since they had reclaimed Erebor is suddenly gone and the blond prince crumbles, Kili kneeling down next to him, still holding the older one. Fili's hands are clutching to the fabric of Kili's tunic and his face is buried in the same piece of clothing.

The younger one thinks he might be hurting his brother, considering how tight his embrace is, but he cannot bring himself to let go. Not now. "Fili," he whispers again.

And then Fili's lips are on his, hot and messy and needing, and they tumble sideways, Kili somehow landing atop the older one. He does not think about the fact that they are brothers and that they are supposed to give Erebor heirs, because right now nothing matters but the closeness and the seemingly endless relief.

They never break apart for the rest of the evening, falling asleep on the floor which is covered with soft furs, cuddling into each other. Fili's fingers are still buried in Kili's tunic when the younger one turns his head to press a soft kiss onto a patch of white skin.

"Never do this again," he whispers, staring at the pale scar.

Fili's eyes are closed and his voice is blurred by the sleepiness of the late hour. "Not if you don't give me any reason to."

Kili knows that the older one does not want to pressure him, but to finally be honest. And while he would never betray his brother he swears to himself that he also will not let anything else happen that could leave Fili's arms scratched once more. He will watch all those patches of new skin disappear until none are left and no new will follow.