AN: This will be a catch-all of sorts for humorous one-shots, starring our favorite mischief-makers. They will vary in ages, although I really love writing our lads all hormone-driven and adolescent. That gangly, awkward stage just looks so cute on them. Probably won't be consistently updated, since I have three other stories going right now, but every once in a while something mischievous hits me and has to be written down. ;)
Chapter 1, "The Biggest of Them All." I'm going to save myself the bother of doing dwarf math. The brothers are the equivalent of 5 and 10 years old here.
"The Biggest of Them All"
Looking back, Fili still couldn't understand how so much blood had come to be spilled over such an innocent bit of sport
A naked, howling Kili stood in the great room before a roaring fire, covered head to toe in alarmingly bright red rivulets of blood. He was flanked on either side by his uncle and his mother, and a wooden basin filled with dark, squirming shapes sat between them at his feet. Using two pairs of wooden tongs, the adults continued to add to the revolting contents of the bowl.
"Why don't you start again from the beginning," Thorin sighed over his shoulder in the half-exasperated, half-dispassionate tone that he reserved specifically for his ungovernable young nephews. A third boy howled along with Kili, and this accounted for most of Thorin's current state of exasperation.
The boy, who was dark haired and called, quite appropriately, Thorin thought, "Bain," sniffled dramatically and opened his mouth to pour out his woes, of which he had many. Mud clotted his black hair and the skiff of beard of which he was so proud. His nose was swollen and purple, and blood had formed an unbecoming maroon crust on his upper lip. He looked nowhere near as horrific as poor Kili, however, who hadn't a spot on him that wasn't smeared all over with red. Of the three boys, Fili alone was free of injury, although his sleeveless light summer tunic and leggings were spattered with blood enough that he matched the other two traumatized children in appearance as well as spirit.
Bain didn't get very far in his tale before Thorin cut him off with a thunderous look. "Not you. You're father will be here to collect you soon enough, and I'm sure that he will be very interested in your many grievances, but for now, shut your gaping maw before another complaint comes sailing out of it." The boy's puling whines grated on his nerves, which were already being stretched to their limit by Kili's ear-splitting, plaintive shrieks.
Bain did as he had been bid, and shut his mouth with a resounding snap. Fili cut him a glare and took up the story.
"Kili 'n me went down t' the pool in the glen," he began, eyes wide and fixed on his blood-slicked, disconsolate little brother. "An' there was this lout." He hooked an accusing thumb at Bain, who was glowering and sniveling behind the blanket that Dis had kindly tucked around his shivering shoulders earlier. From the cold look in Fili's blue eyes, it might have been assumed that the two boys were life-long enemies; In truth, they had met only that morning, and had played tolerably well together in the dappled light of the glen before the day had begun to deteriorate rapidly.
Kili had wanted to try out his new net. The chill, rejuvenating rains of spring had petered out after nearly two solid weeks of curtailed outdoor activity, and the foothills of the Blue Mountains basked in the first sweet rays of early summer. Newly formed runnels spilled out from the high mountain crags and met in the hills to swell the sodden banks of the modest streamlet that, at this time, aspired to a river. A mossy little glen had been carved along the path where the brook wove its way through the woods, just before the foothills joined the plains. Frogs peeped and croaked in an enthusiastic chorus, and the trees rang with the cheery trills of birds. It was here, under this lush, verdant canopy, that the two young heirs of Durin often took for long hours of rambunctious, unhindered play.
The net had been a gift for Kili's birthday. Dis had made the netting herself, expertly weaving and knotting the twine with deft, clever fingers, while Bofur had constructed the tiny oak handle and hoop. The lads had been dying to try it out, but the icy rains had kept them holed up under the mountain, where they had raised all manner of hell until their uncle had been ready to forcibly eject them, rain or no. Today was the first day that the rains had relented, and it was hard to say who was more relieved to see the back-end of the other; Thorin, or his incessantly upbraided nephews.
They scrabbled down the familiar passages and slopes, carrying between them two walking sticks, a leather pouch with a light lunch of smoked meats and fresh yeast rolls, and Kili's fishing net. They made their way into the woods, pausing here and there to poke at intriguing slugs, bugs, and any other creatures unlucky enough to merit the attention of the pointed ends of their sticks.
They burst into the woods and filled them with the sounds of their raucous good cheer. After so long in a dim, underground world of gray, the lush expanse of vibrant green that surrounded them was almost a shock to their newly awakened senses. They leapt down the slick, mossy boulders that led to the brook. Fili acted the part of a savage, ravenous warg and informed Kili that he was to be its prey. Tittering madly, Kili slipped and tumbled from rock to rock, apparently interpreting his role as that of a particularly clumsy deer.
They reached the short trail above a small pool, both still miraculously in one piece, although their bottoms were coated liberally with green moss and slime. Kili stopped short as they crested the rise and elbowed his brother. Jutting out his chin, he indicating something on the far bank that Fili couldn't quite make out from where they stood.
"Who's that, Fili?" he asked. Fili shook his head. Kili's eyes were much sharper than his. He could see nothing near the pool except reeds, weeds and trees, but he wasn't about to admit it. They continued down the trail, and it was another minute before Fili could make out the lone figure that Kili had so easily spotted.
There was a boy on the shore, digging diligently in the mud. He looked to be right around Fili's age. His shoulder-length black hair was pulled back from his face in many small rows of braids, and the a ghost of a beard shaded his jaw. Fili felt an unwarranted jab of annoyance at the sight of so much facial hair and fingered his own sparse patch with chagrin.
The new boy was intent on his project, which was apparently the burial of an enormous, bloated bullfrog. He was so absorbed that he didn't hear the brothers approach, although they had taken no particular care to be stealthy. Kili was, as usual, all spastic curiosity, and he darted up to his new-found friend without so much as a warning shout.
"Why're you buryin' your frog?" Kili asked, very serious, from directly behind the stranger. The frog burial had impressed him with its sense of solemnity, and he wore his very best somber expression for the occasion. Earnest gaze? Check. Barest hint of a frown? Check. Wide, soul-searching, upturned, deep, brown eyes? Furrowed, arched brows pointing to the heavens? Check, and check. It was a face to melt the very iciest of hearts.
The boy yelped and made a rather undignified attempt to gain his feet. Unfortunately, the mud that was to become his frog's eternal resting place held his feet fast, and he floundered momentarily before plopping down on his rear-end.
Kili giggled, which was perhaps a tactical error in the art of friend-making.
The new boy pushed himself up, glaring spitefully at the tiny interloper. "Well, it's my frog!" he whined, as if Kili had disputed the fact. He was painfully aware of how absurd he had looked, leaping in fear at the advance of the pint-sized dwarfling, and his mud-covered breeches did nothing to bolster his confidence. Feeling himself to be at a disadvantage, Bain turned sulky. He did not like to appear foolish.
Fili came up and tucked an arm around Kili's narrow shoulders. Something in the look of this new boy niggled at him. Very few people reacted badly to Kili, even when he was on his worst behavior.
The two boys regarded each other warily. Finally Fili decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and extended an invitation to his and Kili's game.
"I'm a warg," he ventured by way of a matter-of-fact introduction.
Bain considered this and replied, "Then I'm an Orc."
Fili pointed at Kili, who was anxiously waiting to be assigned his part. "He's an elf."
"I don' want t'be an ELF!" Kili cried, scandalized. "Can't I be a dragon? Or a troll?"
Fili sighed. "Fine, you're a cave troll, a huge, disgusting one, dripping in snot and boogers, an' we're gonna chase you outta your cave so's we can steal all your loot!"
The chase commenced.
Eventually, the troll was slain, and died with great fervor, writhing and howling in the mud, and insisting on a proper burial. If a frog merited a ceremony, then surely a cave troll should be on the receiving end of one as well.
To satisfy Kili (and to shut him up), the bigger boys splashed mud at him, telling him that his burial was complete. Kili was content, and darted off to collect his net from among the cattails where he had flung it earlier. He poked about in the shallows of the little pool, scooping up pebbles and frightening away schools of darting, silver fish.
"What's your name?" Fili finally asked of the new boy, and Bain told him. "You're new, aren't you? Where do you live?"
"My Da came to work in the forge. We moved here fortnight a'fore last."
"D'you like it? Kili'n me love it here!"
Bain shrugged and lifted a large rock at the edge of the pool. "S'ok," he replied, poking at the mud with a stick. A dark, undulating shape shot out, and Bain pulled his feet quickly out of the water. "Leech!" he exclaimed.
Fili's eyes gleamed. "Let's catch it! Bet I can catch more'n you!"
They set to work, overturning rocks, stirring mud, and checking the bottoms of lily pads for specimens. Fili found a large rock with a natural depression like a bowl, and they placed their squirming captives there, keeping a careful running tally for their competition.
Kili wandered over, clutching his net, and watched the older boys' antics. "Can I play?" he asked hopefully.
"Of course, catch as many as you can. If you win, I'll steal you a nice hot bun from the scullery." Fili replied, ruffling Kili's hair with a grimy hand. Kili grinned up at him, appreciation akin to worship beaming from his warm brown eyes.
It was some time later and Kili had still caught no leeches. The rock-bowl was brimming with repulsive black bodies, but Kili was downcast because he had contributed none. Bain came to his side with another leech pinched carefully between his thumb and forefinger and Kili sniffled up at him. "I can't catch none. They keep slippin' through the net."
"Well that's not how you catch them, you ninny! You want to catch the biggest, here's what you do," Bain was thinking back on his undignified spill into the mud after Kili had unwittingly startled him, and he crouched down, whispering into the impressionable young dwarf's attentive ear. When he had finished, Kili grinned enthusiastically, then took off around the bend in the shore, shouting. "I'm gonna catch the biggest of them all, just you wait!" he cried.
Fili watched him go, eyes narrowed slightly in suspicion at Bain, who for some reason still just did not sit right with him. He shook off his suspicions. Surely he was just being overprotective. There wasn't a soul in the whole of Ered Luin who wasn't completely drawn in by Kili's endearing ways.
Bain threw down his stick. "I'm done. I've got eighteen of 'em."
Fili smirked. "Twenty-one. I win!" he crowed.
A sullen scowl scudded across Bain's face like a raincloud, and Fili frowned. There was just something nasty about him that he couldn't peg. It was hard to place, but Fili thought that there was a streak of insincerity in his manner, and none of his smiles ever seemed to reach his eyes. He decided that he didn't like this new boy at all.
A merry shout from around the bend announced Kili's return. Fili turned to tell him that it was time to leave and stopped dead. Hollering loud enough to wake the dead, Kili emerged from the reeds of the boggy cove, naked, mud-streaked, and covered head to toe with dangling, writhing leeches.
"I've got the BIGGEST parasites!" he proclaimed, marching proudly up the bank and striking a ridiculous pose to display his prize-winning collection.
"Kili," Fili breathed, appalled. Bain roared, and doubled over, hands on his knees and barking hard enough that he was having trouble drawing breath.
Fili promptly turned and punched him in the nose. "You put him up to this, didn't you, you miserable prat?" he yelled, standing over him. Bain stumbled back in shocked surprise and whimpered miserably as he clutched at his face. Blood oozed out from between his splayed fingers. His whimpers became a keening lament.
Kili danced from foot to foot, looking rapidly between the new boy and his brother, his proud smile noticably absent. "Fili?" he asked uncertainly, "Do I win?"
Fili pasted on a painfully wide, toothy smile. "Yes, Kili, you win." He most definitely had. There were well over Fili's twenty-one leeches attached to to his lower half alone.
Something in Fili's smile wasn't right, and Kili knew him well enough to sense that something was amiss. He looked down and plucked at a large leech that had entrenched itself in his belly button. "Should I put them in the bowl?" he asked, frowning. He tugged at the squirming bloodsucker again. It stretched long and thin in his hand before its many rows of tiny teeth finally ripped free from his tender skin. Kili gasped. Blood oozed out from the tiny Y-shaped wound, releasing an astoundingly large amount of the bright red fluid. It trailed in a dramatic line down his pale, white stomach. He wiped at it anxiously, but it continued to flow in a steady trickle. He looked up at Fili, bewildered.
"Fili," he began. His lower lip trembled momentarily and tears sprung up in his large, shocked eyes. He set up a piteous wail as he comprehended with dawning horror that the removal of each and every one of the vile parasites he had covered himself in would leave behind it a similar, bloody wound.
Fili strode past Bain, elbowing him roughly aside with an ugly look, and gathered Kili under his protective wing. "C'mon, Mum will know what to do." He tried to calm him, telling him that they could be gotten off easily enough with a bit of vinegar and a pair of tongs, but Kili remained understandably disconsolate.
Bain's aggrieved cries had reduced into martyred sniffles. Steering the sobbing Kili around with him and never letting go, Fili gathered up their clothes and the forgotten net. He led him around to a second path that wound through the foothills and would take them home in a more direct route. Passing Bain, he let his fist fly once more, and Bain's howls increased tenfold as he was sent sailing backwards into the mud.
"I know who you are! You think you're some kind of great royalty, but you're nothing more than spoiled, kingdomless brats! My Da's told me all about you! I'll tell your uncle about this, and he'll skin your hides clean off!" he raged at their backs.
Fili, leading poor, snivelling Kili up the hill path, called over his shoulder but didn't look back. "Yes, be sure to mention how he's a sorry, kingdomless King, as well, I'm sure that conversation will go over aces!" Kili cried harder at the thought of angry Thorin, and Bain followed behind them, pawing at his nose and blubbering all the way, and between the racket raised by both him and Kili, they drew the attention of every curious tenant who lived or worked in the halls.
Dis was running for them before they even reached the threshold of their own chambers, having recognized Kili's heartrending cries from the back of the mountain. Scooping the two howling children into the comfort of her strong, capable arms, she deposited them in front of the hearth and flew into action, calling for Thorin as she dashed about the kitchen gathering necessary implements; vinegar, a large basin, two pairs of tongs, and a clean linen rag.
Thorin entered the room in an undignified scramble, hastening to Dis's call for aid, and was struck temporarily dumb by the sight. He took in the two dolorously clamoring, bloodied children, and the cross-armed, steely-eyed stare that Fili aimed Bain's direction and came to the appropriate conclusion. Taking up the second set of tongs, he knelt at Kili's unoccupied side and addressed his eldest nephew with the greatest patience.
"Why don't you start at the beginning," he sighed, plucking off a black, undulating shape and wincing as Kili increased his volume a notch directly into his ear.
Which brought them to the present.
Fili was fuming as he finished his story, and he stared Bain down, daring him to contradict even a single detail. Bain took in the clenched fist at his side and determined that it would be best to offer no denial.
Overall, they presented quite a sorry sight. Bain's nose was still streaming like a spigot, and every sniffle brought the taste of blood to the back of his throat. Kili was wretchedly trying to hide his tears behind his mud-caked hair, and in the flickering fire-light his little barrel chest and spindly frame gleamed bright and red, like a polished apple covered all over with black, wormy spots. Thorin was casting dangerous looks at Bain, child or no, dispersed by occasional glances at the door, as though he eagerly awaited a new arrival to their party.
Dis alone seemed calm, although the sight of her youngest in such a state had certainly sent her for a loop. As a mother (and especially as the mother of Fili and Kili) she was adept at hiding her fears. No mother worth her salt would let her own unease show at a time like this; it would only serve to intensify the anxiety of her child. She cooed and crooned, lulling Kili into a dull sense of calm as she worked over his trembling little form. By the time the last hematophagous worm was plucked from its host, he had stopped crying altogether and stood looking at Bain with hurt confusion. He had never been so betrayed by someone whom he had counted as a friend, and the experience had turned his previously unblemished slice of the world on its head. It was nothing that Fili could have put into words, but he sensed this small change, and his fists were itching to have another go at Bain's smarmy face for sullying his baby brother's faultless innocence.
There came a loud banging of a fist upon the door, and Thorin's face became a perfect study of ill-concealed ferocity as he rose to answer. He flung the door wide, and Bain resumed his howls with artful cunning as a dark, wide dwarf of whom he was the spitting image, strode into the room. Fili watched this performance with disgust as Bain threw himself forward with aplomb and attached himself to his father's knee.
Thorin was speaking quietly and in a very restrained manner, presumably explaining the situation. Bain's father, Ornri, listened with visible irritation. Abruptly, he cut Thorin off mid-sentence and, although Fili couldn't make out their words over Bain's dramatic moans, the action was obviously not well received by his uncle.
Things escalated rather quickly. There was a good bit of blustering from Ornri and plenty of roaring and wild gesticulation from Thorin. Dis was just starting to fear a shoving match when Ornri spun on his heel in an indignant huff and dragged his puling son out the door. The slam that followed echoed off the carved stone walls for a solid minute before fading.
"There's a nasty pair," Thorin growled, returning to the fireside and absently patting the top of Kili's head. Kili looked up, adoration shining in his grateful eyes. Dis was toweling him off and dabbing at the innumerable runnels of bood that dripped and spattered the floor and fire-grate. The fire had helped to partially dry the wounds, but the anticoagulant expressed by the leeches was keeping them running. Fili crept to Kili's side and offered him an awkward, one-armed hug, tugging at his mother's skirt with his other hand. Dis leaned down and Fili whispered into her ear. After a moment's consultation, she nodded, and Fili slipped away and disappeared into the scullery. Bounding back into the room with a toothy grin, he presented Kili with a sticky bun snatched directly from the oven. Kili's eyes lit up and he swiped at his nose with the back of his hand.
"Well, you won fair and square. I promised you a hot bun if you did, didn't I?" Fili tossed it to Kili, who caught it after a brief juggle and eagerly shoved half of it into his mouth. His faith in the world restored, he stood placidly chewing his prize as Dis wrapped him in a fresh swath of linens. She pulled a rocker over to the hearth and seated herself before the fire. Thorin scooped up the tiny lad and placed him in Dis's cradling arms. It was several hours before the blood finally stopped running, and the family spent this time merrily enough, all singing and chatting animatedly to keep Kili distracted and content. Dis sang many songs of lullabyes and legends, and Kili's eyelids slipped drowsily onto his cheeks until Thorin took over and began spinning tales of glorious battles of old. Fili sat rapt at his uncle's feet until the fire died and the last of the embers gave up their feeble glow. With their heads lolling sleepily against their shoulders, the lads were bundled up and carried off to their individual beds.
It was fully dark in their room; No window allowed the light of a peeping moon or the sight of the twinkling stars, but both boys were used to this, and found comfort in the inky silence. A few moments after Dis had tucked them in and let herself quietly out of the chamber, there came a scrabbling noise from Fili's right and a sudden warm weight wriggled its way beneath his covers.
"Fili?" said Kili, settling himself against his brother's side and pressing his cold feet against Fili's leg.
"Hm?" Fili replied, yawning and squirming away from the icy, insistent little toes.
"Why did Bain tell me to do that? Did he know that they would hurt?" Kili was speculative. "Because if he didn't know, I feel bad that he got yelled at."
Fili rolled his eyes in the darkness. Bain had deserved a good bit more than a telling off, in his opinion. Only Bain's permanent expulsion from Thorin's Halls could have satisfied Fili's notion of just deserts. Of course Bain had known the pain and humiliation that the leeches would cause, but Fili was unwilling to blacken Kili's optimistic view of the world any more than it already had been, and answered, "I don't know Kili. I don't think we should play with him anymore, though. Anyone who willingly chooses to be an Orc can't be any good to have around."
Kili pondered this bit of wisdom. "You're right. I don't want to be friends with anyone who makes such a good Orc. He hit me too hard with his stick when he killed me, but I didn't want to say anything."
Fili ruffled his hair. "You were a most courageous troll. Now go to sleep."
"Mm," Kili mumbled, already halfway there.
The bustle of morning roused the boys early and found Kili speckled all over with many tiny red scabs, but he was otherwise blood-free, well rested, and yearning for his next grand adventure.
Fili, relieved to see his brother returned to his easy smiles, was only too happy to oblige, and the halls rang with proud battle cries as they rose with the sun, shouting for all to hear. Most smiled indulgently at the ferocious pair as they poured out into the open air of the courtyard, although there was one who did not. Lurking near the front gates and clutching at the plaster that encased his broken nose, Bain scurried off in the opposite direction to seek refuge behind some shrubbery. Had the brothers seen him, they would have laughed as he slunk off, the very picture of a cowardly, defeated Orc.
SCORE: Brothers - 1, Bain - 1
There seemed to be some fondness for Bain, an OC from one of my other stories, "Ain't Nobody Who Can Sing Like Me," and so I thought it might be fun to introduce him in this file of Fili/Kili misadventures. He may very well be showing up again someday, so we'll keep a running tally, hence the score above.