A/N: For anybody that came looking for God-Uncle, I'm still working on the next chapter. I promise. I just got a bit distracted by CaptainAmberRose's contest and this practically typed itself up. This is bromance, meant to be platonic, not slash. But you read into it whatever you want. Oh yeah, and I don't own anything.
Orcs and goblins, nothing but orcs and goblins plaguing the land! Everywhere the rotten menaces snarled with greasy lips and gnashed yellow fangs.
Reaching down to snag a black arrow from a corpse, Kili fired it into a nearby warg rider. He had run out of arrows quite a while back. The now bare-backed warg charged him, and the young dwarf drew his sword. A quick dart to the left, a smashing blow down and the beast's head was chopped clean off. Feeling danger behind him, Kili swung his sword around just in time to block the dagger of a goblin. No sooner had he sharpened his blade on the wretched thing's bones when another orc reared up with a scimitar.
It was the same all over the battleground. The armies of dwarves, elves, and men fought bravely against the hordes of disgusting creatures. Far away, he could hear Dwalin roaring with savage battle lust. No doubt the other members of the company were defending their lives just as viciously. Even shy Ori had found his stride. The elves seemed to be getting the worst of the offense, though. Perhaps it was some instinct to destroy beauty first and foremost, or just some innate hatred for the unnaturally tall beings. However much he appreciated the advantage, since it was saving his kin, he loathed that they owed the elves for it.
Desperately, Kili plowed his way through the enemy lines, searching in vain for a familiar head of gold. He had lost Fili in the initial attack, and now his stomach filled with dread. Where was his brother?!
Finally, he saw Thorin, hacking away at his opponents with the glowing Orcrist. To his relief, he saw that Fili was close to their uncle, no doubt trying to protect the king's back. But from his vantage, Kili could see that it was costing his brother to do so. Because Thorin was not watching Fili's back. The exiled king had only one goal in mind, and it was clear to every sentient thing present. Azog the Defiler was wading through the masses in a singular direction. The two mortal enemies had zeroed in on each other, ignoring all else. The Pale Orc swung his strange hook lethally, not caring when it sliced up several of his own allies in the process. Thorin raised his trademark oaken shield in response, daring Azog to fight.
A sudden threat came at Kili from his left, startling him into a defense position. The dark-haired dwarf had to work to overcome his latest opponent. Reminded that he could not let himself get distracted, Kili returned to his task of beheading as many orcs as he could. He continued to cast glances around, never letting Fili or Thorin out of his sight for long.
Thorin was doing well. He seemed to have learned from his previous encounter with Pale Orc, and was now dominating the battle. Azog didn't stand a chance.
It happened so fast.
The greatest warrior can be felled by a single arrow, and Fili was struck by many. A small troop of goblins had aimed specifically for the unusually bright-haired dwarf. He staggered two steps back, then fell to ground, his blood tainting the rocks.
Kili saw it all. He screamed, in a grief so bitter and a rage that burned so hot he might as well have been thrown in the forge. He forgot all about the enemies that slashed at him with their weapons as he ran towards his brother. But it was like trying to run through a river. Kili felt the goblins tripping him, the orcs holding him back. Yet he saw only Fili, only his beloved sibling bleeding to death, alone.
Hearing his nephew's cry, Thorin turned to look for the cause. The Defiler lay at his feet, oozing black blood, mortally wounded through the stomach and neck, suffering greatly but not dead yet.
Then he saw Fili.
Horror and pain filled his chest like lead weights, and the breath was crushed out of him. Thorin felt despair like he had never felt before wrap it's barbed wire around his heart. His heir, his precious nephew, his dear Fili...
Kili still hadn't reached Fili when a second cry echoed his own, but saturated with more pain. Turning, he stared in shock.
Azog, with the last of his strength, had shoved Thorin's own sword through the king's chest. The beautiful blade pointed towards the sky, coated for the first time in red blood. The Pale Orc collapsed, his eyes rolling back into his head as death finally claimed the bastard.
Kili was frozen.
Fili was gone. Thorin was gone.
The world was torn asunder as goblins took advantage of his paralysis to thrust poisoned daggers into his body. He felt one pierce his heart, but the pain couldn't compare to that of his loss.
Thorin was dead.
Fili was dead.
And now...Kili was dead too. Somehow, that wasn't as important. Nothing mattered anymore. Without his family, how could life have meaning anymore?
Darkness consumed him.
"NO!" Kili shot upright, waking from his nightmare in a cold sweat and shaking with fear.
Stunned, he stopped and blinked. The realization that the battle and its consequences had been nothing more than a dream came over him slowly. Beside him, Fili snored like a bear in winter, as alive as ever. A worried look confirmed that Thorin was still alive too. He checked the others with his eyes, and was relieved to find that they were all the same.
Whole. Healthy. Alive.
Gandalf was supposed to be on watch, but he didn't even turn around at Kili's shout. Perhaps he hadn't heard?
Still his heart pounded inside his chest, and his stomach clenched. Reaching out to grab Fili's shoulders, he was comforted by his brother's warmth.
"Fili, wake up!" He hissed, desperate for both release and reassurance.
"Mfwhua?" The blonde mumbled into his sleeping roll, trying to ignore the brat.
Shoving his sibling off the roll into the cold ground was dirty, but Kili didn't care. A rude awakening is never a good idea when you're dealing with a well-trained warrior. Fili didn't hesitate to remind him of that by throwing a dagger at his head. Thankfully the blonde was still half-asleep so his aim was off and the handle bounced off of Kili's elbow. But the growling was threatening enough.
"Fili, we're going to die!" Kili whispered, holding out his hands pleadingly.
"What?!" Fili snapped, now struggling to throw off the haze of dreams. He turned sharply on his knees, searching for immediate danger.
"No, we're not being attacked. I didn't mean that." Kili quickly corrected.
"Huh?" Fili paused long enough to check the area for himself, before glaring back at his brother. "I will kill you."
"Fili stop!" Kili again held out his hands, this time trying to ward off the vengeful spirit. He only had a a matter of seconds to convince the blonde dwarf, so he spoke quickly. "I... I had a nightmare. We were all fighting in this huge battle. It felt like some kind of war. But...we all died. Thorin, me...you. Fili, I think if we keep going on this quest, we're going to die!"
Fili blinked owlishly.
Kili's jaw dropped. That was not the response he'd been expecting.
Don't worry, Kili, Thorin won't let us die. It was just a dream, Kili, nothing's going to happen to us. Don't worry you little girl, I'll protect you. We won't die, Kili. We're too handsome to die, Kili.
Brushing away his fears, comforting him, making the situation light again by teasing, promising him that they would be okay, that they would all make it to Erebor, that was what he had expected from Fili.
"So! So...what?!" Kili gasped, unable to understand why his brother was not reacting.
"Kili, I already know that. I meant, so are you ready to go back to Ered Luin now?" Fili asked, far too serious to be kidding.
"What?!" Kili shrieked, unbelievably confused now. What did Fili know? He was the one who had argued the most that they should be allowed to join Thorin on this quest. Fili couldn't be wanting to back out now.
Fili rolled his eyes. He was clearly too tired to be dealing with stupid brothers at this time of night.
"Kili..." He spoke slowly, like that would make his words clearer. "I already know I'm going to die. I accepted that the day I decided to join Uncle Thorin on this quest. But you can survive if you go back to the Blue Mountains. Thorin will understand. Hells, Dori might even ask you to take Ori back with you. You don't have to risk your life too."
The part where Fili had breezed over the mention of his own death with absolutely no concern was about as disconcerting as Fili suggesting he return to the safety of the Blue Mountains while his brother and uncle remained in danger.
"What do you mean, you know you're going to die? How?" Kili demanded quietly, finally recalling that there were other dwarves trying to sleep nearby.
"Well how do you know?" Fili snapped in return. "It's not something I can put into words so easily, Kili. It's just something I know, in my bones. Before I even told Uncle that I was coming, I knew that this quest would claim my life. It's written in stone."
Kili felt tears fill his eyes. How could his brother speak so calmly of his own life? Didn't Fili know how important he was?
"But Kili, as surely as I know that, I know this. You can survive. You don't have to come with us, you don't have to die. If you turn back now, you'll live." Fili implored, all traces of impatience and indifference fading from his voice.
It was true. Kili knew in his heart that those words were true. Somehow, it felt as if Mahal himself was whispering in his ear, offering him a glimpse of his fate. If he left now, he wouldn't die. And just as certainly, if he continued on the quest, he would die just like his uncle and brother. It was a choice he didn't want to make. He had to make it, though.
He thought about his friends. How his death would affect Dwalin and Balin and his mother. He thought about dealing with the aftermath, if he could possibly do it alone. He compared the pain of dying to the pain of being left behind, suffering and lonely. He tried to imagine a life without his brother, his twin, his soulmate in every way that mattered. He tried to comprehend his responsibility to the throne should Thorin's oldest nephew die. He pictured Erebor, the beautiful city described to him by so many. The image was far too cold and too gray without Fili's sunshine hair.
Looking deep into the blue eyes of his sibling, Kili found the answer. It was never a hard choice, only a necessary one. Reaching out to tenderly cradle his brother's face in his hands, he answered.
"Fili, you know I can't go back. It pains me to say it, but if you lived and Thorin died, I could get over his death. But if you die..." The tears finally fell down his cheeks, disappearing in the dark stubble on his jaw. "If you die, I'll never be able to live with that. I can't live without you, Fili. You mean everything to me."
Fili started to get watery eyes too. He was much too tired for this kind of talk.
"You can't possibly think that I would abandon you. That I would let you go into danger without me to protect your back. Would you be able to turn back, if you knew I was going to my death?" Kili challenged, already knowing how Fili would respond.
True to form, Fili shook his head in reply.
"There you go then. If we're going to die, we're going to do it together. You're not allowed to leave me, understand?" Kili couldn't help but smile.
Fili didn't care if he died, if it meant that Erebor would once again be home to his people. Honestly, he wasn't even sad that Kili planned to die for the cause too. He was only touched, deeply moved by his brother's promise that they would not be separated. If their positions were reversed, he would do the same. He could not be angry at Kili for his decision.
Fili pulled Kili close for a crushing hug.
In that one moment, Kili made peace with his shortened life. He knew full well the consequences of his choice. His only regret was that his mother would feel the grief of losing the last of her family. But he had said goodbye already. There was nothing more to be done. The only thing that remained was to enjoy what time he had left. Kissing Fili's blonde temple, Kili laughed softly. Somehow, knowing what he was getting into only made him more sure. It was impossible to describe, the way that his certain death made him lighter, unburdened. But he actually felt happy. As if the promise that he would not be separated from Fili, even in death, had made everything else acceptable.
They had chosen their path. And they would walk it with dignity and rejoice in the glory of their last days.
Gandalf the Grey kept his back to fire. He was supposed to be on watch, looking out for any threat to company that might be hiding in the night.
It just wasn't possible to see anything though, through the mist of his tears. He heard every word the youngest dwarves had said. And he hated it, because they were true.
Erebor would be reclaimed. Thorin was too stubborn for any other possible outcome. Some things are certain, impossible to change or divert. But everything comes at a cost. And this price would be paid.
If only it wasn't so very high.
The salty water fell to the earth. They were the first of many to follow. Like the first drops of rain that precede the storm, so this quest would truly begin the shadow that would plague Middle Earth in the time to come.
And also like the first drops, Kili and Fili would be the first warriors to fall, the first martyrs of battle that had to be fought.
The first to die in the war that waited.