Thorin kept his eye on the eagle and his arm around his nephew as he ran, leading the company through the terrain. The scattered trees provided little opportunity to hide from the orcs, and he could hear their screeching as if they were beside him. The eagle circled overhead before diving down to somewhere within the bordering forest. Thorin let out a yell of frustration before heading to the tree line.

Kili groaned in his uncle's grip, stumbling in his semi-conscious state. Dwalin, on the other side of him, was continuously speaking gruffly to Kili to keep him awake while they were being pursued. They could not falter.

Once the company was in the forest, Thorin spotted their opportunity: a cluster of great boulders and fallen trees laid a little ways in. He signaled the company to quicken their pace lest a scout come further than the army and catch sight of them. He used his peripherals to make sure each of the dwarves was securely hidden before clutching Kili to his chest and ducking beneath a very large tree's branches.

As the army of orcs ran by, the dwarves held their breath.

After a good half of the hour went by, Thorin made the first move. He jostled Kili, who groaned before looking about him. "Uncle, wh—"

"Hush," Thorin hissed. He moved out of the branches and back into the open air. After a moment, he said, "I think they've passed on. We need to find where that eagle landed."

Balin looked at him questioningly, "What eagle?"

Thorin dismissed his skepticism and took off confidently in the direction the eagle must be. Kili sauntered after him confused, but trusting.

The forest was so silent. The orcs were either long gone, fooled by their quick camouflage, or waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Kili's head spun as he stared up into the trees, trying to be ready for anything. His brother couldn't watch his back this time.

Kili screamed as Fili attempted to smile at him as thin red streams traced the blonde braids beside his lips.

Kili brought his gaze down too quickly with the memory and felt a sharp pain in the back of his head. He silently cursed his foolishness, his naivety, his weakness, his youth, his inability: everything that caused Fili to get hurt. Kili felt responsible for his fate.

After hiking for the better portion of an hour, the dwarves entered a clearing. There was no great eagle; but there was a wizard, smiling, waiting. Thorin could have wept with from respite.

"Gandalf!" Bilbo could not contain his astonishment as he looked upon the old wizard. "Where did you…?"

"Fili…?" Kili's voice cracked as he prepared himself for the blow.

Gandalf's eyes softened as he nodded in the direction of a cave behind him, "I have done all that I can for him, as promised. Be wary, he needs his rest."

Thorin was at Kili's heels as they rushed to him. They found him lying just within the cave, clad in his coat and a makeshift bandage. When Kili was beside his brother, he collapsed with a mixture of relief and anguish. His tears flowed freely when he matched his forehead with Fili's and felt his warm breath upon his face.

Kili had prayed fervently until his mind stumbled over his thoughts. Day and night. Now, here he was. His brother. Alive.

He moved his face from Fili's and dropped his head to the fur at the collar of his jacket. He was content to take in his brother's familiar scent and feel the rise and fall of his chest.

Thorin regarded his nephews fondly as the reunion tore at his heart. The line of Durin was strong; he couldn't be more proud of them. His boys may be broken, but it was nothing that could not be mended. He knew not of Fili's fragile state, but he wanted to believe that his heir would recover under the wizard's care. Thorin found Fili's hand with his own in a well-deserved moment of vulnerability. He watched Kili's shoulders shake with stifled sobs as he buried his face in his brother's coat.

The king felt a hand touch his shoulder. Without turning, he said, "Thank you, Gandalf. I am sorry for my temper."

"It's hard to control yourself when something precious to you is at risk of being lost. Your apology is accepted, Thorin."

Balin and Dwalin approached as the company settled themselves, giving the line of Durin their privacy. Balin was all too eager to see what assistance he could provide young Fili and Dwalin was not about to sit aside uninformed. The former reached down to Kili, urging him softly to get up and let him take a look at Fili's wounds, but he received no response.

"Ah, the lad's asleep," came Dwalin's hushed voice as he shook his head.

"Deservingly so," said Thorin as he took his youngest nephew in his arms and laid him on the ground beside Fili.

When Kili awoke about a day and a half later, he rolled over and sat up so quickly that he saw stars. There was Fili. Right beside him. Kili huffed out a sigh of relief and moved to look at his brother's wounds. Before he could even touch his coat, Bofur grabbed his hand. "I wouldn't, Lad. Balin's orders."

Kili's brow furrowed as he tried to comprehend the meaning of the words in his sleepy state. He took in the darkness of his surroundings and the stars that glistened in the sky outside of the cave. Bofur was smiling down at him reassuringly and he release d his arm and kneeled next to the boys. "How are you feeling?"

Kili tried to swallow, but found that his throat was dry. Before answering Bofur, he took the water that was offered to him. "Better. Has he woken up?"

"Once," Bofur looked down at Fili and chuckled, "And he was very concerned to see you out cold. We had to hold him so he wouldn't tear his stomach open again. He's called your name a few times in his sleep."

Fili stirred as if woken but his eyes remained closed. Bofur added, "I think he's healing nicely."

Kili's eyes stung. No more tears would come. He took Fili's hand in his own and watched him intently as if willing him to wake up and assure Kili that he was alright.

Bilbo appeared on the other side of Fili with a cup of tea, which he offered to Kili. The dwarf was glad for the liquid.

The next morning, after his brother kept watch over him through the night, Fili woke up.

And he smiled at Kili. The battle flashed through his mind for a moment, but Kili bent over to embrace his brother and ignored the pain-laced memories.

Thorin watched his nephews with sincerity and nodded at Gandalf gratefully, "I am forever indebted to you."

Gandalf shook his head before warning Kili not to jostle his brother too much, lest the wound reopen.

"Don't worry, brother," Fili whispered, "You won't hurt me."

Kili bit his lip and buried his face in Fili's coat-fur before the tears slipped free. But he wasn't sad. He wasn't feeling guilty. He wasn't angry at the world.

He was just happy.