a/n: so, not to be long-winded: i saw a prompt on the LJ hobbit-kink page but i have no livejournal account and don't know how these things work so if the prompter by chance finds this—thanks for the wonderful idea! and hope you like it? (i'll probably post the original prompt with the last entry, to not spoil things.)

anyway, first time in this world, but i love these characters (who doesn't?)

takes place before The Hobbit, in the boys' youth. planning on four parts.

i'm trying to get back in the swing of writing everyday (it's really hard in college) and i figure FF is a good practice tool.

if you read it please, please, please review. they keep me going.

thanks :)

i. prelude, dawn

"Uncle'll be wondering where we are."


"Do you think he'll come looking for us?"

"In the morning, maybe."

"Shuddup, maggots!"

Kíli glares at the prison guard through the fragments of his iron bars; the man is picking at the dirt under his nails with a poorly crafted knife, watching the specks cascade to the floor and then sniffing loudly. Kíli continues at a stubborn whisper, "Well, it could be worse."

He waits for an answer, and, when none comes, repeats, "It could be worse, couldn't it, Fee?" He's a jittery ball of nerves, his knees and elbows coming into contact with the wooden walls of his cell, a small, cramped thing built for narrower people than he. He wishes he could see his brother's face, but the cells are adjacent and the wood sturdy. After a long moment he hears, "Of course, Kíli."

Kíli readjusts his positions. There is a metal bucket in the corner of his prison, but other than that it is bare, and his feet are falling to pins and needles beneath him. He settles heavily against the bars in the far corner, so that if he strains he can just make out his brother's nose. There is a single oil lamp near the prison guard, sending flickering shadow fingers outward, making his gloom worse. He begins picking at a stray thread on his coat.

"I'm sorry, you know," he tells his belt.

Fíli sighs, heavily, sounding world-weary and tired. "I know."

"Are you angry at me?" Kíli's voice is small. He can count on one hand the number of times his brother has been truly mad at him.

Very abruptly: "No."

"You are mad at me." His nail digs up and under the loose thread, a royal blue, and he rips it ferociously. He recognizes somewhere in the back of his mind that he sounds like a twenty-year-old dwarfling, petulant and stubborn, but his mouth keeps moving of its own accord. "How was I supposed to know that not bowing to the mayor was a punishable offense? We don't bow to anyone back home!"

"We aren't back home, Kíli—you seem to be forgetting that." His brother lowers his voice. "We aren't among those who know who we are. We're nobodies to these people. We can't afford to ignore their customs. Didn't Uncle tell you that before he left? Didn't Mother?" Fíli affects a rather intimidating Thorin Oakenshield, his light tones tumbling dark and rough around the edges. "You cannot draw attention to yourself! Men are vain creatures who fear those who aren't like them."

Kíli wishes his brother could see his glare. "We're heirs of Durin. Why should we hide that? Why should I have bowed to that fat old man—"

"It's called respect."

"The mayor wasn't respecting that human girl he knocked over," Kíli hisses, "or that man he pushed out of the way. The may doesn't deserve respect—"

"It's not our battle to fight," his brother snaps back, voice hard and merciless and too much like their uncle's for Kíli's liking, "so we cannot fight it. We look after our own. We're loyal to our own. Not to a village we're passing through."

"You sound just like him." Kíli doesn't mean it as a compliment and he can tell his brother knows this. "The world is a dark and horrible place and—"

"But it is. It's not all like Ered Luin. It's not like that at all. It's your first time seeing it—what would you know?" Fíli sounds bitter, and maybe it's just him overreacting, but suddenly Kíli sees twenty some-odd years of watching his brother's back as he left for weeks on end, chosen to work with his uncle because he was first born and first loved and—

Kíli doesn't say anything for a long beat, then bites out, very suddenly, "You're just jealous because Uncle no longer thinks I'm too young to work with him."

There is a pregnant pause, and then a rather incredulous, "What? Mahal, Kíli, what world does that make sense in—"

"You're no longer the center of attention. That's why you're angry at me right now. You're afraid I'll upstage you." Kíli rubs a fist down his face. "Don't worry. I will."

"I'm angry with you because this could have all been avoided through one simple gesture—and now we're stuck in jail about to be sentenced to who knows what because of your damned pride!"

"At least I have pride in my lineage!"

"At least I have some brains!"

"At least I—"

"If you two dwarves don't shuddup I will gut you and hang you by your intestines at the gallows tomorrow morning," the prison guard growls, and Kíli is startled away from where he had been inching angrily towards the bars, the echo of his and Fíli's argument dying on the stagnant air. There is a rustling from the cell over, and then silence.

Kill shoves himself into the far corner by the bucket and curls up around his knees. He falls asleep fitfully, and to strange dreams, one ear open for his brother's voice to patch things over like he always does, to say Kee, let's not fight, I hate it when we fight

It never comes.