So, apparently at some point along their way Kili had decided he was going to get married.
To a hobbit.
To their very own male hobbit, no less.
Well. Fili supposed he could deal with that. Let his little brother play the buffoon... uh, lover for the time being. Fili would just stand aside and amuse himself, interfering only to not let Kili embarrass himself (too much).
Watching Kili's mating habits turned out to be most entertaining. The hobbit clearly had no idea anybody in the party could be interested in him in that way, Kili clearly had no idea how to make his, so to say, special interest known, and the other dwarves were clearly starting to realise said interest ahead of the very person Kili was supposedly courting. Stilted conversations about pipes and their shapes had quite possibly convinced Bilbo that his young companion was a little touched in the head (not to mention their extremely suggestive nature which only Bilbo and Kili didn't seem to notice); and Kili quietly playing fiddle in the middle of the night in suspiciously close proximity to one grumpy, shivering Mr Baggins led only to the seemingly beneficial consequence that Bilbo stopped squirming about under his blankets (out of all the plights they faced, these days the only one that wouldn't let their unexpectedly hardy burglar sleep peacefully at night was the dwarves' mighty snoring) and finally fell asleep quite soundly.
Kili seemed a tiny bit heartbroken after that. He chugged an extra pint of beer that night before going to bed with an exceedingly broody look, worthy of their esteemed Uncle Thorin himself.
Fili very nearly felt sorry for him. But seeing his little brother prance about following the hobbit like a big, silly, adorable puppy was way too hilarious to let an opportunity like this one slide.
It stopped being amusing, though, when Fili saw Kili come up to Bilbo with a gold chain dangling out of his palm.
Fili would know this chain anywhere. His brother wrought it himself under Uncle Thorin's guidance, on the day he became of age. This chain, light and slender because they still were not so well off that a prince of Durin's line could wring himself a fine heavy chain worthy of his heritage, was nonetheless of pure gold and excellently made, as became a master smith of Durin's blood.
An engagement chain, to present to the woman one wished to join lives with, as a token of destiny that bound them together until death and after.
Bilbo chattered away merrily, clearly not recognizing the travesty that was about to happen. Thank Mahal, the others, still far behind, hadn't seen this foolishness, Fili thought. Kili looked this way and that, shuffled his feet, then tried for nonchalance, casually resting his elbow against a tree twined with blossoming vine. The hobbit said something and laughed, while Kili looked positively tormented. Bilbo's face changed to concern, and at once Kili had on a cheeky smile that looked a bit like somebody was pulling his teeth. He held out his hand and picked a single modest white flower from the vine, and put it behind Bilbo's ear. He clearly thought his gesture a joke to cover the unease.
Bilbo blushed, quite prettily, in fact. His cheeks and neck went pink and his eyes shone brighter. He touched the bloom in his hair with a somewhat flummoxed but distinctly pleased look.
And he was even more flabbergasted when Kili instantly went beet-red and began to stutter unintelligibly.
The flowers in the whole forest were doomed, Fili thought with growing trepidation. Who could have thought their burglar was such a tender, poetic soul.
And now Kili stooped so low as to start showing Bilbo his, ahem, battle scars. The hobbit beheld with appropriate awe, gazing in wonder at the slight scratches Kili had the gall to call scars (and tracing the most prominent ones with his finger, which Kili looked all too pleased at). Wait a second, was that...
Fili had the strongest urge to sigh. Or to laugh, likely hysterically, because the sight of Kili proudly showing Bilbo the scar he got at the tender age of six after having sat down on a freshly sharpened knife did strange things to Fili's nerves. It certainly didn't help that Kili chose to omit the actual backstory, wordlessly assuming an enigmatic and reasonably tragic air instead.
"Why the hobbit?" Fili asked his brother in the evening, when dusk fell on the dreary wood and the boughs were whispering ominously in the darkened sky.
Kili grinned widely. It was a very stupid smile, and very happy.
"I like his eyes," he explained matter-of-factly. "They're pretty. And he's funny and cute." His face was alarmingly dreamy.
Having stated that, Kili flopped down on the ground and snored, leaving Fili rather dumbfounded with his words. Kili thought the hobbit had pretty eyes. Huh.
(Bilbo's hair, on the other hand, was indeed quite soft and pleasant to the touch. Fili had an opportunity to learn that firsthand when he had to pull Bilbo out of a deep gap by it.)
The next morning, Fili lazily watched Bilbo bicker with Gloin about pipeweed. The hobbit waved his pipe about and pointed at an unimpressed Gloin with a petite hand that still looked well-groomed and not work-worn in the slightest, and suddenly he turned his head just so, and a ray of sunlight fell upon Bilbo's face, bright and radiant, gilding his long fluffy eyelashes, a soft golden glow lighting up his curly locks. The birds sang like mad, the grass was greener than the finest emeralds of old Erebor, the sweet breeze laughed merrily in the boughs, and Fili unexpectedly discovered, to his mild astonishment, that Bilbo's eyes were startlingly blue, deep and clear and pure like a forest lake. They were... 'pretty' wasn't a word Fili would use. But he saw how one could want to endlessly gaze into them and have them look at you from under those golden eyelashes.
Kili, he thought with puzzled relief, might not be entirely insane.
But his attempts at courting were still nothing if not sad.
The hobbit was not so bad to have around, Fili supposed, – quite useful, in fact, as their perilous journey had long proven. And Fili grew sick and tired of his little brother mooning about barely listening to anything people told him (unless it mentioned the name 'Bilbo' or was uttered by said hobbit himself). And Bilbo's eyes were indeed pleasant to look at.
That, and Fili was getting bored. These days, their journey was hardly about adventures of any sort but rather about trudging on from dawn to dusk till their legs fell off.
One evening, he fished a bit of round silver wire out of his bags and sat down with it by the fire. His hands were nimble and skilful, and the silver glimmered fairily in the reddish firelight, and soon enough Bilbo came gliding to it like a moth to the flame.
He watched, mesmerised, as Fili's hands danced and weaved and the silver was turning into the finest, most delicate lace, remindful of the frosting on the windows when the winter gets bitter, and the moonlight glimmering on a quick mountain river.
It was a cloak fastener that came out of his hands, small but hard-wearing, and the hobbit's face lit up with wonder as Fili wordlessly offered him the clasp. Bilbo took it with great care and turned it in his hands this way and that, earnestly studying the intricate tracery. Finally, he raised his head.
"It's a beautiful clasp," he said, his eyes sombre and his tone reverent. He looked more impressed with it than with all of Kili's shenanigans combined. Kili silently seethed with fury from afar. Fili smirked.
"Keep it," he said. "You'd better not lose your cloak, we're out of the spare ones."
Bilbo stammered his gratitude, his eyes locked on the elaborate design. Kili was positively bubbling with rage in his far corner.
The other dwarves exchanged a glance. Balin said 'hmm'. Dwalin said nothing but sent the three of them an exceedingly severe look. Esteemed uncle Thorin was staring off into the darkness, probably reminiscing on tragic things. Bofur chewed on his moustache and suggested that they drank.
And so they did, and after that, a fine pint set Gloin blabbering about his wife.
"...And if any woman in all dwarven kingdoms has the finest whiskers of shining copper, that would be her, my fair lady! I still cannot believe my luck; to think that she would be so kind as to marry me, a lowly miner, and moreover, to gift me with a strong sturdy son, an heir to my craft! I still remember the day I had wire-wrapped a ruby clasp for her gorgeous beard and presented it to her with a trembling hand; oh, how I dreaded that she would refuse my gift! But she accepted, and put it in her lovely beard right that instant. Never in my life had I been so happy before, and after that, only my happiness at the birth of my son could have surpassed that divine feeling! I swear I–"
"So that's how dwarves propose," Bilbo remarked pensively, ever curious.
"That's right, lad, that's one of the ways you could go about this," Gloin guffawed good-naturedly. "In fact, hadn't you been male, and of another people at that, one might say that young Fili here had just proposed to you. And you accepted!" Gloin winked and erupted in fits of raucous laughter.
"Ha," Bilbo said. "Ha, ha, ha."
He clutched his bowl to his chest and scuttled to the opposite side of the bonfire on his bum. And what a nice little bum it was; Fili was ready to bet it would fit most snugly into his palms.
With the way Kili glared, Fili was faintly surprised his little brother hadn't bored a hole in him yet. Bilbo eyed him extremely suspiciously. Fili sent him his most innocent, beatific smile; he didn't quite succeed, if the way Bilbo instantly hid behind his bowl was any indication.
Fili shrugged and pulled his fiddle out of his bag. The night was quiet, the fire crackled cheerily, the enemies were scarce in this part of the forest, and his hands itched to play. It has been too long since his strings last spilled the silver sounds around, with the voices of the other instruments all bolstering the tune like the shoulders of brothers.
The others listened, and smiles broke out on their faces, as bright as firelight on golden coins, and their hands unwittingly reached for their own instruments. Bilbo listened with wide eyes, his chin propped in his palms, and the fire shone blazingly on his hair, golden and beautiful, and his eyes sparkled with wonder, and then – he bounced to his feet and leapt into a quick dance, and broke into a merry song that made little sense but sounded like a lot of fun. Then Ori jumped in and started hopping, clumsily but eagerly, and soon there were few sitting but the older, respectable dwarves, king Thorin and Fili himself.
Kili laughed joyfully as he headbutted the hobbit and then proceeded to explain to a somewhat dazzled Bilbo the moves of a dwarven dance that involved bumping fists and chests and prancing about with arms hooked at the elbows with their partner. Bilbo looked reluctant but no-one could refuse the puppy-like enthusiasm of Kili once he set his mind to it – not even esteemed uncle Thorin himself. And soon Fili had the pleasure to behold a very disgruntled Bilbo bumping chests with a merry-looking Gloin and then twirling around with a devilishly grinning Kili until his face went a bit green. Finally the hobbit stumbled, and Kili readily caught him; furthermore, he was so noble as to suggest escorting him to a nearby stream, so that Bilbo could refresh himself a bit.
It was a long time before they came back, Kili flushed and grinning victoriously and Bilbo looking a bit overwhelmed but pleased nonetheless.
What would his little brother do without him, Fili mused, feeling quite self-satisfied. And all Kili needed was a slight push in the right direction.
Next morning, he woke up with his spare boots full of frogs and promptly gave his impertinent little brother a shiner in retribution. That didn't ruin his mood, though, and, judging from the way Kili positively glowed while the hobbit fussed around him, his little brother wasn't faring too badly himself.
Apparently, Kili was now teaching Bilbo how to use a sword – or so he claimed.
What he actually did was: chase after the hobbit around the meadow until said hobbit was completely out of breath, his forehead and temples glistening with sweat and his cheeks flushed most deliciously; then topple him over and engage in a session of wild groping poorly disguised as hand-to-hand combat. Fili couldn't help but shake his head at that: as glad as he was for his little brother and their sweet little burglar, he'd rather like to keep Mr Baggins safe and sound, and Kili's 'lessons' were hardly helping the cause. Bilbo needed real lessons, a proper trainer, and while Kili was an excellent fighter, he distinctly lacked the patience necessary for this particular role. Fili idly considered offering his services, but then uncle Thorin came up and said, "Hm."
"Uh," Kili said. His hands weren't precisely up the hobbit's shirt yet but Fili had a feeling it was a near miss. "T-Thorin! We're, erm, training! To fight! In comba-aghhh," he doubled over, clutching at his stomach.
"That we are," Bilbo agreed, having swiftly kicked Kili to his tummy and weaselled out of his clutch. "Well, it seems I can teach you a few tricks myself, kind sir."
Kili stared at him with a look of such adoration Fili felt a bit sick. Uncle Thorin had to nudge him with a boot to make Kili remember there were other people around.
"I see the training is going well so far," he observed. "I've no doubt it will be even more lucrative if you team up with Fili to train master burglar. After all, no-one here wants him to get hurt." And he sent Bilbo one of his rare tender looks paired with a half-smile that made Kili unconsciously sidle closer to Bilbo.
"Sure, Thorin!" he chimed.
"We'll do our best," Fili contributed and found out, with great bewilderment, that he was standing five feet closer to the hobbit than before.
Well. They were all unkind to the little halfling at the beginning, when he still seemed to be nothing but a burden, but ever since the encounter with the trolls, Kili had nearly always been the first one to come to his rescue, the first one to worry about him, while uncle Thorin chose to resent Bilbo and his apparent weakness until the very end he nearly faced, if it weren't for the halfling. Fili was sure that had to count for something. After all, Bilbo had already accepted his clasp – surely that had to mean the halfling already belonged to the brothers?
Thorin nodded to Bilbo and strode away with a clap on the hobbit's shoulder.
"So, that's how you hold a sword," Fili started immediately, plastering himself all over the hobbit's back and gripping the small palm with the small sword in his.
"Yeah, and that's how you position your legs," Kili forced Bilbo's legs apart with his knee and sent Fili a grateful look. They were in this together, just like in everything else.
"Say, master Balin," Bilbo started thoughtfully one day, "how is it that your names are so alike? Are siblings traditionally named in a similar manner among dwarves?"
"These," Balin responded, slow and deliberate, after a few moments' silence, "are not our true names. No dwarf is named in the Common Speech, as if they were without kin and kith. The names we receive at birth are in Khuzdul, the ancient tongue of our seven ancestors, and the names you know us under, we take to our liking before going on a journey that might lead us to meet other peoples."
"So what are your true names, then?" Bilbo inquired, genuinely eager.
The dwarves exchanged guarded looks.
"I'm afraid no-one here will tell you, master burglar," Balin finally explained. "Those are kept in great secret from all but dwarves, and shared with friends and family only. Parents, siblings, cousins... friends and lovers, too. It's a huge honour to be told a dwarf's true name, if you are of another race, – so huge, in fact, that it had never, ever, happened before in the history of Khazad. So don't take offense, master burglar, – this is just the way it is."
Bilbo hummed pensively and went back to eating his apple. He didn't ask Kili for his name, Fili noted. It was wise of Bilbo, to spare himself another disappointment. Not even Kili would have told him, as besotted as he was.
One evening Fili spied his little brother sitting alone under a distant tree, looking morose. That had to mean Bilbo was cooking tonight, which was good news – very good news indeed. The thing was, it wasn't his turn today.
Had they had an argument already?
Fili sat down next to Kili and offered him a look that wordlessly said, 'Well?'
"I'm afraid," Kili quietly confessed. Such things, he only ever said to his brother. "I'm – scared that I'll hurt him. That I'll do him wrong."
Fili put his miserable words and the look of growing dissatisfaction master Baggins wore these days together and came to a sound, if somewhat ridiculous, conclusion.
"You have no idea what to do with him, do you?" he asked. Kili silently shook his head, starting to look patently desperate.
Fili regarded him, remembering the sweet face of master Bilbo Baggins and the way his curls shone golden under the sunlight.
"Do you want me to help?" he asked finally.
Kili raised his head and stared at him.
"We're in this together, remember?" Fili tugged on one of his little brother's wild locks. "Share peril, share toil, share mead and share spoil–"
"What is yours is mine to use, what is mine is yours to lose," Kili chanted, and a smile broke out on his face. "Then, by all means, go ahead, big brother."
It wasn't as if he had that much more experience, Fili thought as he nodded. But the fact that he had any experience at all definitely had to stand in for something.
"What – no, wait, what. Are you doing." Bilbo hissed.
"We're making sure–"
"–you sleep well tonight," the brothers supplied in unison.
"Yes, fine, that's fine, but I see at least one dwarf who shouldn't be here," Bilbo griped.
"But you accepted my clasp," Fili smirked. He had already removed the hobbit's jacket and waistcoat and was currently working on his shirt, doing little to resist the temptation to brush his fingers against the warm body underneath it.
"And you said you'd be mine, and I, yours," Kili pouted. His brother was still such a baby sometimes... but his pouts usually got the job done.
"So you've decided – what, to share me? With your brother." Bilbo hummed, nodded resolutely and said:
"Wha–?" the brothers chorused.
"Get. Out. And don't come back until there's at least some notion of decency in those empty noggins of yours. Good night!"
"Butbutbut–" Kili flailed.
"Don't tell us you don't want this," Fili promptly said in his best smoky voice.
"Don't tell us you don't want us both," Kili whispered huskily into Bilbo's delicate pointed ear, conveniently quick to catch on.
"For both of us to pleasure you–"
"With everything we've got–"
"We'll have you twice as wanting–"
"Both of us, at your service."
"Alright–!" Bilbo, now distinctly flustered, scrambled to get away from their pawing hands and stepped back, though not very far from the pair of them. "Fine. Just – let me think a bit, will you?" And Bilbo, pleasantly half-naked though still regrettably not out of his breeches, shuffled away and thought for a couple minutes or so. Judging from the way Kili fidgeted, squirmed and snuffled, though, to him it seemed like an eternity.
"Fine," Bilbo finally declared. The brothers raised their heads simultaneously and stared. "I've made up my mind. I agree. Go ahead now." And he looked at them expectantly.
The brothers exchanged twin shit-eating grins and pounced.
They really shouldn't have been surprised, Fili thought dazedly, that Bilbo ended up leading them in their explorations.
"Come, love," he drew Kili closer, and Kili blindly followed, looking flushed and dazed. Bilbo embraced him and kissed him, no doubt as nimble and quick and sweet as he had been with Fili earlier that night, and let their members rub against each other, guiding Kili's movements with his hips. Kili's hands roamed, feverish, until they reached Bilbo's waist and rested there, and the pace the hobbit's pelvis set made Bilbo's arse rut maddeningly against Fili's own weeping, painfully hard cock that lay between his cheeks.
Lost in the rhythm, Fili lowered his head to that spot right under Bilbo's ear where the sweaty curls hang loose and inhaled. They needed to make those into braids, he noted hazily. The scent was overwhelming, rich and salty, pure sizzling desire and primal need, and Fili couldn't help but move faster, faster, faster, until his vision went white and a roaring avalanche came rushing through his body, and Bilbo turned his head and captured his mouth in a kiss that felt like rich mead, sweet and spicy and heady.
Bright mottles dancing in front of his eyes, Fili still saw Kili groan, shake violently, and cling to Bilbo for all he was worth.
Satisfied and pleasantly tired, Fili still spared a minute (or five) to lick and bite at Bilbo's neck before falling asleep. Somebody sneezed; it turned out to be Kili, who was doing the same thing and accidentally got some of Fili's hair in his nose.
They made sure to wake up before dawn and braid the hobbit's hair nice and proper. Judging by the others' stares, the message got across.
They did well to choose the hobbit and claim him, Fili thought as Bilbo's voice became the only thread to hold on to in the sheer darkness of elven prison. The desperation crept close, even though he was reasonably well-fed and no-one tried to eat him, or crush him under giant live rocks, or torture him to death while singing along merrily; and sometimes, the only thing that chased the anguish away was the bodiless voice in the dark that came bearing news of his brother – and hope.
Kili swooped the halfling into his arms when they were finally free, and twirled him around, and finally lifted him into the air. Their prim and proper Mr Baggins protested, of course, but he hugged them both afterwards, so tightly it actually hurt, and cooked his best dish for them (without so much as a whiff of apples, mind you; Fili could fall in love with him all over again for that alone).
And when, one quiet evening in Dale, Kili leaned in and whispered his true name in Khuzdul in the halfling's small ear – Fili couldn't help but follow suit.