Thorin was returning home from long day at the forge. He was annoyed at the handful of complaining customers he had had to endure and was looking forward to having his family lighten his mood. As he approached the modest home he shared with his sister, he spotted her tending to the garden. She waved as she saw him coming and he returned the gesture. He scanned the area quickly for any signs of his sister-sons, but he didn't spy them. They must be inside, he thought.
Opening the door, he noticed the house was rather chilly. Fall had just arrived in the Blue Mountains and already the temperature was dropping. Taking of his boots, Thorin gathered some wood sitting by the door and headed inside. As he entered the sitting room to place more wood on the fire, he noticed Fili was on the ground. The dwarfling was leaning on his forearms, bottom stuck up in the air, peering under Thorin's favorite chair. Amused, Thorin refueled the dying flames before sneaking over to his eldest nephew. Having been unnoticed, he knelt down on the ground beside the determined child. Fili was unfazed by his presence, however, clearly consumed by whatever task he had at hand. Thorin, too, peered under the chair, unaware of what he should be seeing.
Whispering in a serious tone, he asked, "What are we looking for?"
At the question, Fili raised his head to look his uncle in the eyes, "Kili. We're playing hide and seek. I can't find him."
Confident, after sever moments of staring, that Kili was, in fact, not under the chair, he rose to his feet, placed one hand on his hip, scratched his head with the other, and glanced around the room for potential hiding places. Thorin, too, stood up, scooping the blonde child into his arms as he did so. Entertained by his nephews' antics, Thorin decided he would join in their game. It wasn't often he got to play with the boys since he spent most days working at the forge.
"Where have you looked so far?" he asked, eyes darting around the room for any sign of his dark haired rascal.
Thrilled that his uncle was playing along, Fili bounced excitedly in the older dwarfs arms.
"Um, so far I've checked my room and the sitting room. I looked really hard, so I know I didn't miss him," he reported back to Thorin assuredly.
"Hhmm, how about we split up then? You check the washing room and I'll take the kitchen." Thorin suggested while brushing a strand of golden hair out of his nephew's bright blue eyes.
Fili's face lit up at the idea, "You're so smart, Uncle Thorin! We'll find Kee in no time!"
Thorin laughed at the boy's enthusiastic response and placed him back on the ground gently, "Of course we will! Now go!"
Fili scurried off to the wash room in a hurry as Thorin tip-toed into the kitchen. He surveyed the room thoroughly. It was occupied by a table and chairs, some cupboards, a fire place for cooking and a table for preparing the food. Conclusion: not very many places to hide. But Kili was small. He could fit into the tiniest of spaces; a gift that had often worried his poor mother sick. Thorin looked under the table, and in the seats of the chairs; no Kili. He walked over to the hollowed-out space between the wall and the fire place; no Kili. Next, he opened one of the cupboards; food, but no Kili. Having not heard a peep out of Fili, Thorin knew his youngest heir must be in the kitchen, so he proceeded to open every cupboard door. As he opened the last cupboard, he was disappointed to find bowls and cooking pots, but no Kili. Just as he was about to close the door back, something unusual caught his eye. Hanging off the side of one of the pots, was something brown and stringy; hair, Kili's hair. Impressed, and slightly frightened by the child's choice to climb into a cupboard and hide in a pot, Thorin remained quiet. He grabbed the base of the pot and slowly dragged it towards him. As he peered into the vessel, Kili looked up, eyes full of delight, and raised his arms towards his uncle.
"Found me!" he squealed.
Chuckling, Thorin lifted Kili from his hiding place and positioned him on his hip.
"That I did! Though, I must say, you are an expert hider," Thorin praised as he bumped the child's tiny nose with his finger.
Kili grinned at the compliment and raised his hands to place them on either side of Thorin's face, an affectionate gesture the boy reserved especially for his favorite uncle. Thorin spied an opportunity while the boy's arms were raised, so he took his free hand that was not cradling Kili and began tickling the boy under the arms mercilessly. Kili doubled over with laughter, wriggling in an effort to end his uncle's attack.
"Nooo," he pleaded between breaths, "Bad, Uncle Thowin! Stop it!"
Hearing his brother's laughter, Fili darted out the washroom to see what the fuss was about. As he entered the kitchen, he locked eyes with his younger sibling.
"Fee!" he shrieked, "Help me, pwease!"
Seeing what his uncle was up to, Fili answered his brothers pleas.
"I'll save you, Kee!"
And with that, he let out a battle cry and began running towards Thorin. Just as he was about to latch on to his uncle's leg, Thorin spun around and caught him by the midsection.
"Oh no you don't," he teased as he heaved the child over his shoulder and headed for the room the two boys shared. As he entered the room, he made his way over to the brothers' bed and plopped them down on it. The two were completely elated at the attention they were getting, so Thorin saw no reason to stop his previous assault. So once again, he raised both hands and brought them down to tickle at his nephews' stomachs. The boys giggled as they squirmed on the sheets, using their tiny fists to unsuccessfully bat their uncle's hands away. In the midst of the laughter, Thorin heard an "Uh-oh" and looked over to his youngest nephew.
"What's wrong?" he asked as he halted his tickels.
Kili rose up from the bed and exclaimed, "I has potty!" And with that, he climbed down from the bed and removed his shirt and then his trousers before running off to relive himself. Staring after the boy, Thorin turned to Fili slightly confused,
"What was that about?"
"He takes all his clothes off when he has to potty. It frustrates Momma, but I think it's funny!"
Thorin ruffled the boy's hair and the two shared a grin.
"I didn't know Kili no longer used a nappy?"
"Yupp! Two weeks now!" Fili replied, seeming quite proud of his little brother. Thorin, too, was proud of his littlest heir, though silently he wished he wasn't growing up so quickly. Thorin was interrupted from his thoughts, however, as a naked Kili appeared in the door way, chubby little arms lifted in triumph.
"I did it!" he shouted.
Fili leaned back on the bed, cackling at the sight of his younger brother. Thorin shook his head fondly, and walked over to Kili, picking up his discarded clothing along the way. He crouched down in front of the toddler and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead.
"Excellent job, Kili!" he praised, "But I know how you can do even better."
"How, how?" Kili asked, eager to do anything to please his uncle.
"Next time you have to potty, see if you can do it without completely undressing, hhmm? You think you can do that?"
Kili's little brows furrowed as he pondered his uncle's request, but after a moment, his face lit up again,
"I can do dat!"
"That's a good lad! Now how about we get you dressed again before your mother sees."
Kili nodded in agreement as Thorin picked the boy up and placed him on the bed next to his brother who had finally calmed down from his fit of laughter. He dressed the boy once more, and then led the pair back into the sitting room just as Dis was returning from the garden. In her arms, she carried a basket full of freshly harvested carrots and potatoes. She looked up as her brother entered the room with her sons in each arm. Smiling she asked,
"And what exactly have you three been up to?"
"Thorin played hide and seek with us!" Fili piped up, "And then he nearly tickled us to death!"
"Is that so?" she asked, smirking at her older brother.
"And I pottied!" Kili exclaimed.
"Did you take all your clothes off again?"
Slightly ashamed, Kili buried his face in his uncle's neck.
"Don't worry, Dis. Kili assured me that he is capable of remaining dressed the next time he has to go, and I know he can do it," Thorin replied in an attempt to defend his beloved little boy. Kili raised his head at the encouraging words, sincerely joyful at the confidence his uncle had in him.
"I hope so," Dis responded, "I wouldn't want to have a naked dwarfling running around when guests are over." She walked over to her brother and placed a kiss on the cheek of each of her sons. "Now, I'm gonna go make our supper. I'll call you when it's ready."
As Dis made her way to the kitchen, Thorin sat the boys down to play until it was time to eat. Sitting in his favorite chair, he watched on as the mischievous duo amused themselves with the wooden toys they recently acquired from Bofur. Just as he was about to drift off to sleep, Dis called the boys into the kitchen and they raced to the table. Thorin followed, spotting a familiar looking pot at the center of the table, though this time filled with stew instead of his nephew. Thorin sat down at the table. As he lifted his spoon from the bowl placed before him, he felt a slight tugging at his legs. He looked to see Kili glancing up at him with imploring eyes.
"Can I sit wif you?"
Unable to resist his pleading expression, Thorin reached down and placed the child in his lap.
"Kili! Let your uncle eat his meal in peace," Dis chided.
"No, it's quite alright."
Dis looked at her brother knowingly.
"You spoil them," she declared, "So when they grow up to be insufferable brats, I'm leaving you to deal with them."
Chuckling, Thorin winked at Fili from across the table. The boy tried winking back, but ended up forcing both eyes shut, scrunching his nose in the process. Dis noticed and let out a small laugh.
"So Fili, what place did Kili manage to squeeze into this time?"
"Oh, I don't know. Uncle found him when he and I split up."
Just as Fili was answering his mother's question, Dis took a spoonful of stew in her mouth, before spitting it back into the bowl. With a disgusted look on her face, she reached for her tongue, pulling out a short strand of soft brown hair.
"Kili! How on Middle Earth did your hair end up in my stew?"
Thorin looked down at the toddler on his lap, who stared back up at him, before the pair busted out laughing. Fili looked on, completely puzzled while Dis glared at them unamaused.