AN - I've been thoroughly destroyed by all of my Durin family feelings and Aidan Turner's goddamn perfect face. This is unbetaed because I am alone in my obsession (but if you'd like to volunteer, let me know!), so all mistakes, grammatically and historically, are mine. I'm planning on adding more chapters to this. Chapter titles will be Fili and Kili's ages.
Follow me on tumblr! displacedhobbit dot tumblr dot com.
Also I own nothing.
Warnings: Durin family feelings. And I said goddamn in my AN. Oops.
Greater than Gold
Chapter 1: Ten and Five
By Displaced Hobbit
Kili is five years old when he asks, catching both his brother and his Uncle Thorin off-guard. Balin had ushered the small dwarfling back into his home after an afternoon of lessons with an apologetic look on his face before making himself scarce. Fili is helping to cut the vegetables and meats that will become their evening stew, and Thorin washing his hands and face after finishing up his smithing.
Thorin sends his nephew a questioning look; normally the boy comes back from Balin's lessons excited to retell the tales that he's learned or show him how far he is progressing in learning his letters, and it unsettles him slightly to see the boy so quiet. Kili meets his gaze for a scant second before looking back at the fire in the hearth, and Thorin knows that there is something amiss with his youngest nephew. He sighs and dries his hands and face before walking over to his youngest nephew and scooping him up into a hug.
"And what did you learn with Mister Balin today?" he starts, pleased when Kili giggles at his typical show of affection.
"More letters," Kili answers a moment later. "Mister Balin says I need to practice."
"Fili will help you practice, won't he?" Thorin asks as he comes over to the kitchen area of their small home, placing the large pot over the fire to let the water boil. Fili glances up and flashes a warm smile, accompanied by a nod, before he gets back to his chore.
Thorin feels Kili's fingers start to idly comb through his hair, something that he has come to realize the boy does when he is upset or thoughtful. He finishes preparing the water for boil, then sets Kili down on a nearby chair and squats down to be at his level.
"Was there anything else?" he asks. Kili is biting his lip, his gaze wandering around but not focusing anywhere in particular. "Kili," he prompted, cupping the boy's chin in his hand to tilt his head up and make him look at him, tutting under his breath when he noticed the tears in the boy's eyes.
"What's a mum and a da?" he asked quietly. "Fosur said I wasn't a real dwarf because I don't have any."
Fili's hands stilled in their work, and Thorin let out a huff of air in surprise, wondering why he hadn't expected the boy to ask about this sooner. His eldest nephew fixed him with a sad look, and he nodded in understanding. "You know, Fili," he said quietly, thumb absently brushing across Kili's cheek. "I am sure Mister Dwalin would like to help you with your sparring. Perhaps you should run along and see if he has time now?"
Fili nodded eagerly, setting down his knife and retreating from the house without a backward glance. Kili's brows were furrowed in confusion, so Thorin fixed him with a comforting smile.
"It makes Fili sad to talk about your Mum and Da," he offered as an explanation, and Kili's eyes lit up.
"You mean I do have them?" he asks, and Thorin nods, albeit a bit sadly. "Where are they?"
At that, Thorin scoops the boy up and heads to the lone bookshelf in their home, finger ghosting carefully over the spines of the tomes until he finds the one he wants and pulls it free, a bit ashamed of himself at the amount of dust that it has collected. He seats himself down in the chair and settles Kili into his lap so he can also see the book before he begins flipping through its contents. The pages are worn, old charcoal sketches of all of his kin, collected through the ages and salvaged from Erebor before the dragon could burn it to ash.
Kili reaches out to one picture, stopping him in his search. "Uncle! That's you!" he exclaims, and Thorin chuckles.
"Aye, little one, that was me." He turns to the next page, revealing another young man. "This was my brother, Frerin." He swallows down the lump that has formed in his throat while Kili studies the picture, fingers ghosting over the lines carefully. After a moment, he turns to the next picture, and he presses a kiss against Kili's hair, if for nothing else to give him a moment to settle the sudden wave of emotion that surges through him. "This was my sister," he says quietly. "This was your Mum."
Kili is very quiet and he looks at the picture for a long time without moving. "She looks like Fili," he says a moment later. "And you."
Thorin nods and brings one arm to wrap around his youngest nephew's torso. "Aye, she does." He kisses the crown of the boy's head again. He lets himself get lost in some of his favorite memories of her: playing games of chase around the halls of Erebor, teaching her to spar with their brother, the look on her face when Fili had been born. But thinking of the joy surrounding Fili's birth makes him remember the sadness of Kili's, and he stops that line of thought before it can go much farther, striving to remember his sister in the good, happy times instead.
It is Kili who starts to turn the next page, and Thorin lets him, a soft smile gracing his lips when he looks at the sketch of the man his sister so dearly loved. "This was your Da," he said, arm tightening around the boy again. The image showed Tili in his most common attire, his mining gear, for he had been one of the numerous dwarrow miners who had lived in the town where the boys were born. He had a familiar lopsided grin, and Thorin fondly remembered his golden hair and shining brown eyes, attributes that had been passed on to his sons that Thorin had come to adore.
"Fili may look like your Mum and me, but you, little one," he said, leaning down to rest his chin on the boys shoulder. "You look just like your Da." Kili nodded, fingers tracing the image yet again as if to help him commit them to memory.
"He was a miner?" the boy asked, curious, and Thorin nodded in return. Kili continued studying the image, and after a moment, he moved to turn the page over, but found there were no more images.
"When you are older," he explained when he heard Kili's sigh of disappointment, "Fili's picture and your picture will come next." He started to close the book and put it aside, but Kili stopped him, and instead turned back to the picture of Dis.
"Why aren't they here with us?" Kili asked a moment later. "Fosur said that Mums and Das live with their sons and take care of them." His brow furrowed in confusion. "He said it was strange that we live with our Uncle and not with our Mum or Da."
"He is mostly right," Thorin conceded. "Most Mums and Das live with their children. And it is strange that you live with your Uncle." He sighed, and kissed the boy's hair yet again, wondering how he could explain this to such a young child and make him understand. It had been hard enough with Fili, and he had at least been old enough to remember them.
"Do you remember where Mister Balin said our people go when they leave this world?" he questioned softly.
Kili nodded. "Malados, I think," he murmured, and Thorin smiled.
"Mandos," he corrected. "When it is time for us to leave, we go to Mandos. Your Da was called away before you were ever born; your Mum was called just after."
Kili frowned as he looked up at his uncle. "But they can come back, can't they?"
Thorin shook his head. "I am afraid not, little one. But they are waiting for you. One day, far from now, you will be called away, and they will be waiting to greet you with open arms."
"Why can't they come see me now?" he asked, tears shining in his eyes. "Why did they get called away?" He blinked, and a few tears escaped that Thorin quickly wiped away. "Why do all of the other dwarflngs get to be with their Mums and Das and we don't?"
He sighed heavily, willing back the tears he could feel forming in his own eyes at the boy's questions, all of which were completely legitimate, but none of which he knew the true answers to. He flipped back to the picture of their father.
"Your Da," he said, clearing his throat when he realized just how tight his voice sounded, "was one of the best miners in all of the Blue Mountains. He was so loved and respected by all of the other miners and townsmen because he was always smiling and was so, so loving of those around him. Just like you."
Kili nodded, but his hands had shifted away from the pictures and they now pawed and pulled at the fabric of the arm of Thorin's tunic.
"Your Da was no warrior, but he was very brave. There was an accident in the mine, not long before you came to us." He swallowed back the well of emotion again. "Part of the deep mine was caving in, but your Da was there to save all of the miners that would have otherwise been trapped."
Kili had turned his face into his uncle's chest, and Thorin sighed at the wetness he felt there. "But then he got trapped?" he asked in a small voice, and Thorin leaned down to kiss his cheek when he heard the boy's voice waver.
"He did," Thorin confirmed.
Kili just sniffled, and softly muttered, "oh," as his fingers began tracing the lines of his father's picture again. "And Mum?" he asked a moment later.
Thorin sighed. He knew he could not tell him the whole truth of his mother's death. Young as he was, Kili was a rather sensitive lad, much like his father, and he'd always felt things very deeply, but the whole truth…that would hurt him in a way that Thorin knew he could not bear.
"You know that dwarrows only find true love with one other, don't you?" Kili nodded. "Well, your Mum loved your Da so very much; he was her One. When he was called away, she was very sad, and it was winter, which always made her sad to begin with, because it reminded her of Frerin. But then you came to us, on possibly the coldest, snowiest night I've ever seen, and she loved you. You gave her hope."
Thorin's voice cracked at the end of his sentence, hating himself for telling an outright lie to the boy. Dis hadn't even looked at him once he was born. She'd refused to see him, refused to hold him, refused to do anything but lie in bed and think of how she missed Tili. If she'd only spent a bit of time with her second son, she would have seen all of the attributes of her husband that had passed on to him, how Kili truly was a part of him to hold on to for the rest of her days.
He was thankful that Kili had been born in the winter. In those days, he spent the majority of his time travelling about, but he always spent the winters with his sister and her family. If he had not been there…he shuddered to think of a five-year-old Fili attempting to help his mother through the birth, caring for his newborn brother alone. The storm had been too frightful for anyone to venture out in. It had been too much for them to send for a healer days later when Dis fell ill. His stomach churned, thinking about all that had happened in the boy's first few days of life.
"And it was a good thing, too," he continued, pulling Kili closer when the boy turned completely in his lap to bury his face against his chest. "She fell ill from the cold not two days later, but you gave her so much happiness while you were with her. But, there were no healers who could help her, and she was called away from us to be with your father, and her brother, and her father before her." Kili muffled a sob into his tunic, and Thorin brought his arms up to wrap around him and rub soothing circles against his arms and back.
"And then you came to live with me," he continued. "You and Fili both. And I have loved you from the very first breath you took, and I will love you to your last." At that Kili really did start to cry, and Thorin busied himself with trying to comfort the boy. He was surprised that he seemed to understand. Fili had asked for months afterwards when his parents were coming back, but Kili had always been the more intuitive and thoughtful one of the pair. Although, he chided himself, it was probably too early to truly tell.
It took a while for Kili to cry himself out, and just as he did, Fili pushed the door to their home open, smiling sadly at Thorin with eyes rimmed red from crying. Without a word, he lifted the book from Thorin's lap and set in on the table before crawling up to sit with his uncle and brother, arms wrapping around the both of them the best that he could.
"It's okay, Kee," he said before pressing his forehead to his brother's. "We have Uncle and he loves us enough for the both of them." He pressed a kiss to the younger lad's cheek. "And you have me." Thorin felt a swell of pride in his eldest nephew, his heir. Fili had always looked after his brother, even though he was just a child himself, and he had always been comfortable taking on the responsibility. He reached down and ruffled the blonde's hair slightly, smiling affectionately down at him.
Kili nodded, still sniffling and calming himself, and the three of them stayed that way for a long while, soaking in comfort from one another. Thorin was debating getting up to finish their stew when Kili asks another question that has Fili stiffening against him and a solid weight dropping down into his stomach.
"Will you get called away too?"
He sighs and brings his hand up to card through the boy's hair, cupping the back of his head. "One day, yes," he murmurs, and immediately frowns when he hears Kili's hiccupping sob. Fili is shushing the boy quietly, but it is clear that it had never even occurred to him that they might loose Thorin too, and he's scared, so he hugs them both tightly.
"Not for a long while, if I have anything to say about it," he adds. "We all are called away, some day or another, some sooner than others, but I promise you," his voice cracks, "that I will never willingly leave you." Both boys nod against his chest, and he snuggles them for a while, knowing that he shouldn't coddle them so if he wants them to grow up to be great princes and warriors, but he can't help himself, not with how much he loves them and how much he hates to see them hurt.
It is a long while before he rouses them, not until Fili's stomach rumbles and both boys are giggling. Fili jumps up to finishing cutting the supplies and starts dumping them into the pot that has been boiling for most of their conversation. Thorin can't bring himself to put Kili down, so he cradles the small dwarfling against his chest with one arm and uses the other to tend to their meal, and Kili keeps one arm wrapped around his uncle's neck and sucks on the thumb of his free hand.
The rest of the evening passes without much incident, as Fili helps his brother with his letters while dinner cooks, and Thorin reads a story to put Kili to sleep shortly after. When he returns to the living room, Fili is looking at the pictures, a small smile on his face.
"I didn't know we had these," he said softly when his uncle comes to sit near him.
Thorin offered him a small smile. "I had forgotten until Kili asked about them," he admitted, mildly ashamed at himself for his negligence.
"I miss them," the boy whispered a moment later. "I think I was starting to forget what they looked like."
Thorin patted his arm gently. "Then, whenever you feel as though you can't remember, you should come and look at this book."
Fili nodded. "And Kili too?"
"Of course," Thorin confirmed. "Now, I want to hear all about your sparring lessons today."
Fili jumped up, setting the book aside with careful tenderness that stirred an emotion in Thorin that he couldn't quite pinpoint, before launching into his descriptions of his lesson, showing Thorin the moves he had learned and boasting that he had nearly beaten Dwalin, despite the fact that the elder dwarf was more than ten times Fili's size.
After a while, he sent Fili to bed as well, in the room he shared with his brother. Thorin hadn't been able to afford a grand home for the three of them; he'd barely been able to build their small house attached to the forge in the small town of men they called home. The brothers at least had their own room, but they had to share a bed, as tiny as it was. It was a small improvement from the days when they had first come to live with him, with all three of them squeezed into one small bed, and Thorin terrified of squishing Kili in the night.
He smiled fondly as Fili slipped under the furs, hands immediately reaching for his brother and pulling him tight to his chest. It reminded him of how he used to sleep with Frerin and Dis when they were children, all in a ball of warmth and safety. He hoped that the boys would always be so close and that they would never know the pain of loosing one another as he had felt when he'd lost his brother and sister.
Once he is sure that they are settled, he returns to the main room and pulls open the book again, looking at his sister and brother, father and grandfather, of all that was taken from him when the dragon came to Erebor.
Kili wakes sometime later with a broken scream, and when Thorin comes to calm him, Fili tells him that he was muttering about caves and rocks and falling, and he feels guilty for causing the boy distress. Eventually he settles himself into their bed and pulls a still sniffling Kili atop his chest as Fili curls up against his side. The boys drift off again, Kili with his head tucked securely under his chin and Fili with his hand gripping his tunic at his chest.
When Thorin finally drops off to sleep, he thinks that he may have found a treasure more precious than all of the gold in Erebor.