The Young Anvil

A/N: Thank you all for your wonderful responses! This chapter will be focusing on Fili's relationship with Thorin before Kili was born.

Fili was a very happy child. He had a mother who loved him, an uncle who was the best Dwarf in the whole world, and countless cousins in every shape and size. The only problem was that everyone was much, much older than him. When he wanted to play they wanted to sit around tables and talk. And he was the only Dwarf he knew who didn't have a beard.

There were other Dwarf children, Fili knew that. He had sometimes played with them, but he was still too small. That was one of the only problems with Dwarves; there were very large age gaps between all Dwarflings. His own mother was fourteen years younger than his uncle, and that was considered close.

So five-year-old Fili had made up his own games, one that could be played by him alone. As a result, he was exceptionally good at sitting quietly and minding his own while older, more important Dwarves had their boring discussions. It was while playing this game that Thorin himself appeared in his home.

"Uncle Thorin!" Dropping his toys, Fili ran to his uncle's waiting arms and was scooped up into the air. Balin, who normally watched Fili when Mama went out, came out from the kitchen as the Dwarfling's giggles.

"Is it time, laddie?" Balin asked. Thorin nodded.

"I'll take care of Fili now," he said in a deep voice. Fili was confused. What was it time for?

The older Dwarf left, but not before giving Fili a pat on the head and a knowing smile. Thorin walked over to one of the large, comfortable chairs by the fireplace and sat down, moving Fili to his knee. Deep down, the young prince knew something was happening.

If he was really honest, he had known something was going on for some time. Ever since his father had left there had been changes, such as Mama crying or other Dwarves whispering when he went running by, but that had been a few months ago. Mama had gotten better, looked healthier, and now other Dwarves shared that same look Balin had given him. It was as if everyone knew some important secret except for him.

It was after a few minutes of silence that Thorin finally decided to speak.

"Fili, would you like to visit the forge?"

Of all the things Thorin could have said at that moment, that question had been the least likely on the list. Fili knew that older Dwarves worked in the forge but it was no place for small princes. This was a momentous occasion for the Dwarfling, so he quickly nodded his approval of the plan.

Within a few minutes, Fili had his coat and shoes on and was walking alongside his uncle to the forge. He could already hear the hammers and smell the heat when Thorin stopped outside the doors.

"Remember, no touching anything. Watch where you step and keep both eyes open. We don't want any accidents. Especially today." Fili nodded in his acceptance of these terms and Thorin opened the doors. Keeping one hand firmly in his uncle's calloused hand, Fili looked around the forge in wonder.

His first impression was of heat. Fire was everywhere, and countless braziers were scattered around. From these, Dwarves were working on every piece of metal from swords to mundane tools. One Dwarf in the corner seemed to be making small toys.

His second impression was of the deafening hammering. There was a constant pounding, like a giant's heartbeat. Everyone was working at their own pace, yet the sounds all came together to form a strange melody of toil and sweat and progress.

It was wonderful.

Thorin led Fili to an empty work station. He placed his nephew on a bench and crouched down. Despite the noise, Thorin didn't even have to raise his voice to be understood.

"Do you see Bofur over there?" A nod. "He's making a sword. Do you want a closer look?" Another eager nod. "I'm going to hold you, for your safety. You must pay very close attention to what he does."

Bofur, who always had a cheerful word for the young prince, only nodded when Thorin and Fili approached him. He was focusing on the potential weapon in his hand, carefully heating and hammering until it began to take the shape he wanted. Sometimes Fili thought it looked like the sword was finished but Bofur would shake his head and hammer again. He explained above the din that there were small imperfections in the metal that he had to work out. Even though the work looked done didn't mean that it would stand the test of battle.

After watching for some time, Thorin took Fili back outside. It was almost unpleasant how cold and quiet it felt outside the busy forge, but soon enough they were back in their own quarters. He hadn't realized how long they had been in the forge, for it was nearly night time. Thorin, who hadn't put him down since they'd gone to watch Bofur, placed him in his chair at the kitchen table. He began to prepare supper and asked the strangest question Fili could even imagine.

"Fili, do you know how Dwarves are like that sword?" His blonde curls fell into his face as he shook his head. "Dwarves, when they're young, are formless. No one knows what they might become. But, older Dwarves can try to shape them into something they need.

"Now, each Dwarf is made of a different metal. Some would be better suited as armor, others axes, others swords. Some would be of no use in battle but can still be made into wonderful things. It is the job of older Dwarves to figure out what metal and shape little Dwarves should take."

"Like me?"

"Yes, Fili. You've had your mother, and for a time your father, to help shape you."

"And you. You helped a lot."

Thorin had a wistful smile as he ran a hand through Fili's hair. Very gently, he separated some golden strands and began braiding.

"Fili, it will soon be your turn to help forge a new Dwarf. It will be a very big responsibility, but I know you can handle it."

"Why me?" Fili asked after a long moment. He was a little Dwarf himself, and he could think of no reason why he would be trusted with such an important task.

"Before…Before your father passed away, he planned a very special gift for you. As we speak, your mother is helping to bring a new Dwarf into the world."

In a day of surprises, this one took the cake. The young prince couldn't even speak out of shock. He didn't know how to react at all.

"Soon," Thorin continued, watching his nephew closely, "you will become a big brother to a little Dwarf boy or girl. And since your father isn't here, it will be your job to help your mother in raising him.

"There is no greater honor for a young Dwarf than to become a big brother. Siblings are a precious gift. It will be your duty to teach them our ways, to keep them safe, and to guide them through life."

"But how will I know what to do?" Fili asked, and Thorin almost laughed at the sudden panic in his voice. "I've never had a brother or sister before. Mister Bofur was able to tell when the sword needed fixing but he said he'd done it before."

"That's where your mother and I will help you. I was a big brother once, and I will gladly pass on that knowledge to you." Fili smiled, relieved that some of the burden had been taken off his shoulders. "But like the Dwarves in the forge, sometimes you'll have to follow your instincts. You'll do fine."

"But what if it's a girl?" Fili whispered.

Thorin laughed. "Then she'll be just like your mother, which is the greatest sister you could ask for. But don't," Thorin added hurriedly, "tell her I said that."

For the rest of the evening, all through dinner and bath time and right up until bed, Fili asked Thorin about potential sibling scenarios. What if the little one didn't eat his greens? What if a new sister didn't want to have baths? What if they didn't want to play the games he wanted to play? And Thorin answered each question as best he could, secretly thrilled that his nephew had already taken to the concept of a sibling so painlessly. He was worried the Dwarfling would be jealous, but that didn't seem to be the case at all.

Early that next morning, Thorin was woken up by a messenger. Dis had delivered her child and wanted her brother and son to meet the new addition. She had specifically avoided mentioning if it was a boy or a girl.

When Thorin told Fili the good news, he was a little disappointed to see that his metaphor had been a little too complex for his nephew. It took over ten minutes to convince Fili that he would not, in fact, need to bring his toy hammer in order to "get started straight away". Thorin silently vowed to remove all hammers from the house, to make sure there weren't any accidents in the future.

But when Fili finally did meet his baby brother, called Kili, Thorin knew it wouldn't be a problem. The boy took to being a brother like a duck to water, and for weeks after the birth proudly told any Dwarf within earshot that he was a big brother and Kili was the best baby in the whole kingdom.

A/N: This was a little longer than I intended but the next chapter should be of a more reasonable length and will have both princes :)