I was not planning on uploading this story, but unfortunately equivalent-of-eight-year-old Kíli would not leave me alone. This idea was one I had to write just to get out my head, and he made me update it. He won't let me get over my writers block for my other two stories until I upload this so just blame him.
This story will probably be updated slowly because it will be low priority under school work but the priority may be raised above Any Other World depending on reviews and stuff, I have a lot more enthusiasm for this than for Any Other World. I may, after uploading the first few chapters, hiatus this until I've finished one of my other two stories but who knows! It will be written, is all I can say!
Age wise, I will try to explain in the story but feel free to ask about equivalents if you don't understand.
This story is named after Strangers Like Me, a song from Tarzan, and is based off of a mixture of Tarzan, Jason Bourne and a flash of inspiration.
Read. Enjoy. Review.
Chapter One # Blank Beginnings #
As a general rule, one did not find dwarves in the Shire. They were neither trusted nor accepted, with most hobbits being of the opinion that the rough people of Durin's folk were mainly thieves or rogues, and any dwarf that did enter the Shire was welcomed by fearful glares and distrustful shadows tailing them until they left the rolling green hills behind.
Every rule has exceptions, and in this case the exception was a young dwarf known as Kíli Baggins.
Our story begins, however, before Kíli Baggins was Kíli Baggins.
It begins in the year 2920, when Kíli was fifty-six years old - roughly the equivalent of a seven or eight year old son of man.
The residents of Hobbiton were absolutely miserable, including Bilbo Baggins, who had been banished to Brandy Hall. A sickness was swooping across the Shire and his parents had sent him away until it passed, despite the fact that he was twenty-nine and would be an adult in four years.
The previous night the storm had begun, a storm far more violent that the usual showers seen in the Shire, and that fateful night while the storm raged on, a messenger arrived to inform the residents of Brandy Hall that Mr and Mrs Bungo and Belladonna Baggins had passed away.
Bilbo appeared for a moment to take the news well, nodding and blinking for a long moment. Then he ran, darting out of the back door of the hall and running away.
He did not know what he was running to or from, he just had to do something, anything, to get away from the unfathomable task of doing nothing at all.
He did not stop running until he reached the Brandywine River, where he let out his grief and anger in an uncharacteristic wail. When he stopped he hung his head, shaking with silent sobs of grief.
The usually calm, clear river had been possessed by the storm, and sent inky black water gushing downstream with powerful speed that would drown an elf.
After seconds that felt like hours he looked down at his feet, which were almost black with what was hopefully mud. Deciding to dangle his feet in the water to get some of the mud off, Bilbo sat on the bank and lowered his feet into the dark, yelping when his toes touched something squidgy that was definitely not water. He peered over the edge of the bank with a sharp gasp.
Lying on a rock, tangled in the reeds on the bank of the Brandywine River was a child, only a little taller than Bilbo's hip. Though most of his face was above water, almost all of the rest of his body was submerged, and Bilbo supposed that he had been washed downstream only to get caught in all of the weeds at the side of the river.
Automatically he hooked the child out of the river, wiping the dark hair away from his face so he could listen for any breathing. Miraculously, the boy still breathed, and Bilbo noted in shock that the child was in fact a dwarfling, who looked tall enough to just pass Bilbo's waist.
One hand was clenched in a fist around a small wooden bow that was no more than a child's toy, and several strands of blond hair were woven around his fingers. Other than that, he had nothing but the clothes that he wore.
"H-hello?" Bilbo's teeth chattered and though he had never been one for profanities he cursed internally. If he was shivering so, how cold must the poor child be? "Can you hear me? Wake up, please?"
He was mildly surprised when the boy moaned softly, but otherwise he did not stir, so Bilbo did the only thing he could. He hoisted the boy into his arms, grunting in surprise when the dwarfling was a little heavier than he expected, and ran to the nearest house.
Relieved to recognise that the home belonged to Adalgrim Took, one of his numerous cousins, Bilbo kicked on the door desperately.
The door opened almost immediately, a familiar seventeen year old child (who was the equivalent of a ten or eleven year old son of man) gaping up at Bilbo before running away with a shriek of "Papa!"
Adalgrim rushed into the hall and his eyes widened as he looked at Bilbo. "What on earth are you doing, Bilbo Baggins?"
"I need help, he needs help!" Bilbo rushed, and Adalgrim ushered him into the kitchen, brushing the last remnants of dinner off of the table.
"Lay him here. Who is he?"
"I have no idea." Bilbo admitted, wiping his sopping curls from his face. "I f-found him in the Br-Brandywine…"
"Paladin, go and get me blankets, lots of them, and some clothes for your cousin Bilbo." Adalgrim ordered, and his son scampered off obediently. "What were you doing in the Brandywine River?"
"I wasn't in the river." Bilbo clarified with some annoyance. "I went for a walk."
"In this weather?"
"My parents are dead."
Adalgrim's face fell. "I am so sorry, Bilbo."
Bilbo nodded, guiltily grateful for the distraction the dwarf provided. "Will he be alright?"
"I don't rightly know, hang on, Daisy!" Adalgrim hollered for his wife. "We need you, and your little healing box!"
Moments later the skilled healer that was Daisy Took emerged with a little wooden box and a shocked expression. "Why is there a dwarf on my dining room table?"
"Bilbo pulled him out of the river; he's but a wee child."
"What on earth was he doing in the river?" Daisy blinked.
"We don't know." Adalgrim explained. "Will you look at him?"
"Of course." Daisy sent a playfully scathing look at her husband. "He's but a wee child."
"Don't mock me, woman." Adalgrim's usually jovial tone was soft and Daisy looked between the two men as she started to remove the dwarfling's sodden outer layers of clothing.
"What else have I missed?"
"Belladonna and Bungo have passed away."
"Oh, Bilbo!" Daisy gasped, looking distraught.
"Blankets!" Paladin, the seventeen year old son of Daisy and Adalgrim who had opened the door for Bilbo, threw them at his father and passing Bilbo a bundle and staring at the dwarf on the table with timid curiosity. "And some clothes, Cousin Bilbo."
Bilbo scurried off to get rid of his wet clothes and when he returned the dwarfling was cocooned in blankets on the table, and Daisy was finishing off a bandage that had been wound around his head.
Bilbo looked around at Paladin who was holding out his arm to prevent a wide eyed girl that Bilbo recognised as his fifteen year old sister Esmeralda, who was staring at the dwarf with a considerably smaller amount of fear than her brother.
"What's that for?" Bilbo asked in concern regarding the bandage, and Daisy sighed sadly.
"The lil' one hit his head pretty badly, Bilbo." The female healer stood up. "We've got the fire going to keep him warm, but I have to warn you, he may not last it through the night."
"What?" Bilbo gasped, and Daisy put her arms around her two youngest children with a sad sigh.
"A hobbit child would not have lasted this long, Bilbo."
"He's going to die?" Esmeralda looked at her mother with a horrified expression.
Daisy sighed. "There's a very high chance of it."
Esmeralda sighed sadly.
"If I may, I would like to stay with him." Bilbo swallowed.
"Well your certainly not going anywhere at this time of night." Adalgrim said. "There's a spare bed down the hall if you want to sleep in a bed, we're going to go back to bed now, but if you need anything, just call us, alright?"
"Mama, I wanna help Bilbo look after the dwarfling!" Esmeralda protested softly.
"Maybe tomorrow, but for now we need to let him sleep." Daisy whispered, herding her children up the stairs.
"Thank you very much." Bilbo nodded, sitting down on a chair next to the boy. Tentatively he reached out and stroked the boy's damp, tangled hair until he himself fell to sleep.
A soft whimpering woke him as the sun came up, and he blinked. The dwarfling was sitting up, still entwined in the blankets, staring at Bilbo with fearful brown eyes.
"Hello…" Bilbo whispered, his voice cracking tiredly. "It's alright, I'm not going to hurt you."
"Wh-wh-where am I?" the child swallowed, shying away from Bilbo fearfully as the hobbit stood up.
"You are in Buckland, in the Shire." Bilbo explained quietly, so as not to frighten him. "What's your name?"
"My…my name?" the boy's eyebrows knit together quite adorably and he started to hyperventilate. "I-I don't know, I…I can't remember…I can't remember anything, I-"
Bilbo recognised boy's hyperventilation mutating into hysterical sobs of fear and he took a small step closer to the child. "It's alright, it's alright! I'm Bilbo, this is my cousin's house, you're safe here. You've hit your head, pretty badly so just breathe, deep breaths, there we go… Just breathe, breathe…"
The dwarfling took several deep breaths, trembling from head to toe and raising a hand to his aching head. "How'd I get here?"
"I pulled you out of the river last night…Don't think about what you can't remember, think about what you do remember…" Bilbo tried, and the boy started to cry more.
"I don't remember anything! Where I come from, what my name is, I don't know!"
As the dwarfling's voice rose to a shout, Bilbo walked over and put a hand on his shoulder. The boy flinched away, but Bilbo just crouched a little so that he was eye level with the boy "Then we shall just have to figure it out, won't we?"
The boy blinked. "Wh…what are you?"
"I'm a hobbit." Bilbo gave a little smile, and the boy concentrated.
The boy peered over, looking Bilbo up and down. "So it's true…your beard is on your feet!"
Bilbo laughed. "I suppose it is."
The boy smiled tentatively, and Bilbo picked up the bow.
"Does this remind you of anything? We found it in your hand."
The boy took the bow from Bilbo's hands and ran his fingers over the intricate wood. Carved into the handle was a word and a number.
Kíli – 2864
"Kíli…" the boy read aloud.
"So you can read, that's good." Bilbo said calmly and the dwarfling swallowed. "Is that your name? Kíli?"
"I think so…It feels right." He admitted shyly. "But that's all it is, a feeling, I just don't know!"
"Good…that's good enough." Bilbo smiled encouragingly, momentarily forgetting his own grief.
Kíli looked over Bilbo's shoulders and someone squeaked, ducking back out of sight. Kíli screamed, and scrambled backwards. He would have fallen off the table if Bilbo had not caught him, and the hobbit felt the dwarfling's hand tighten around his arm.
"It's alright, it's alright, that's just Esmeralda. Her father is the owner of this house, she won't hurt you." Bilbo soothed the shaking dwarfling, and Esmeralda poked her head around the corner, her golden ringlets messy and her big blue eyes seeking out Kíli with interest.
"Esme, I'm going to kill you!" a very annoyed voice called down the stairs.
Unperturbed, Esmeralda snuck into the kitchen. "Hello."
Kíli gripped Bilbo's arm tightly. "H-hello."
"I'm Esme. My mother only calls me Esmeralda when I'm in trouble, Bilbo." She announced in a sweet voice. "What's your name?"
"I think it's Kíli." He whispered, and she cocked her head like a puppy.
"He can't remember anything about his past; we're trying to figure out where he came from." Bilbo explained gently, and Esmeralda came a little closer.
"It's probably from where he hit his head." Bilbo deducted, trying to keep his voice light to try so as not to scare the child.
"It hurts." Kíli whispered into Bilbo's ear, and the hobbit looked at the dwarfling.
"Alright, as soon as Daisy, that's Esme's mother, as soon as she gets down, she can give you something for the pain, Kíli…" Bilbo murmured back, and the dwarfling peered around the hobbit to peek at the little girl.
"You're tiny." Suddenly he blushed, shrinking back behind Bilbo again. "I'm sorry, that was rude, I shouldn't of-"
"It's okay…" She giggled. "How old are you?"
Kíli shrugged, and ducked completely behind Bilbo as a red faced Paladin emerged from the hall. The seventeen year old was taller than Kíli, though less muscled.
"You woke me up!" he accused his sister scathingly.
"He's the one who screamed." The girl pointed out, aiming a finger at Kíli who cringed and whimpered.
"Yeah, but I'd bet my breakfast that you're the one that made him scream." Paladin rolled his eyes and leant out to flash a grin at Kíli. "Sorry about my stupid little sister. I'm Paladin. I'm glad you're awake."
"Thank you…" Kíli said hesitantly.
"I'm not even stupid!" Esmeralda huffed. "And be quiet, you're scaring Kíli! He won't admit it because he's not a wimp like some people I know and he can't remember anything so shh!"
Kíli giggled a little at the sibling spat and both Tooks grinned happily.
Daisy and Adalgrim came down fairly soon afterwards and Daisy gave Kíli some tonic for the pain. Even though she was the one delivering pain relief, Bilbo was the one that the dwarfling stuck by, for more than the first day.
Bilbo and Kíli stayed at the Tooks' house for two weeks, having sent word as far as the North Downs that they had found a lone dwarfling, but no one came for Kíli. Though Daisy was a little guarded around Kíli at first – especially after the initial display of table manners – Paladin and Esmeralda had both claimed Kíli as their new best friend, playing with him and teaching him as much as they could about the little part of the world that they knew, constantly trying to help him remember where he came from.
All he could remember, however, were three faces, and they were faces that he only saw in his dreams. Disheartened, Kíli guessed that 'his' dwarves were imaginary, but even so he spent hours with Esmeralda, who was – for her age - an incredibly gifted, and stubborn, artist. He described the faces that he saw and she sketched them. Paladin sat and watched, softly playing his little flute to help pass the time as Kíli pointed out where Esmeralda had make mistakes. They spent hours and hours murmuring quietly to each other, perfecting every little detail from the dwarfling's vague dreams until finally Kíli had three perfectly lifelike sketches.
They portrayed a golden haired dwarfling and a dark haired dwarf with a stern countenance, as well as a dwarven woman who bore a familial resemblance to the man and the child.
Their acceptance of Kíli was instant and genuine, and their friendship was immediate and strong. However, it was Bilbo who was the favourite.
Whenever he discovered something unfamiliar – which was often – he would seek reassurance or an explanation from Bilbo. Whenever he felt lost or alone or afraid, he would go to Bilbo.
And every night, Kíli would sneak – or try to, he was a dwarf living among hobbits – into the bedroom Bilbo was staying in and lie down by the side of the bed, curl up into a ball and go to sleep.
On the fifth night, Bilbo moved over and allowed the little dwarf to curl up at the end of his bed, and by the end of the second week the young dwarf was cuddling up to the hobbit when nightmares of faceless terrors struck.
Exactly two weeks after Kíli arrived, when Esme and Paladin were at the market with their mother, Bilbo overheard Kíli murmuring quietly to himself.
"What if no one comes? Why is no one coming? Am I too annoying? Is my family dead? Do I even have a family? Tell me what to do, Fee!"
"Who is Fee?" Bilbo asked, reluctant to interrupt but unwilling to allow the sweet child to suffer alone.
Kíli jumped, looking down at the floor. "I don't know…It's just a name…a name and a face…"
"A face from one of the drawings?" Bilbo guessed.
"Mm hm." Kíli mumbled. "The blond one, the name Fee just fits, but I don't know who he is… I think he's imaginary, Bilbo. I think I made him up."
"He might be." Bilbo nodded, putting an arm around the little child. "Or he might be a brother, a cousin, a friend…"
Kíli just sniffled.
The next day, Bilbo announced his intentions to Daisy and Adalgrim, and they were only a little surprised.
The hobbit left with the dwarfling for Hobbiton, and Kíli was uncharacteristically quiet as he waved goodbye to his only friends.
"Where are we going?" the young dwarf broke the five minute silence nervously.
"To Bag End." Bilbo gave Kíli a smile. "My home."
Kíli nodded, following Bilbo dutifully through the Shire. It was a long walk, but he did not complain once, trailing closely to Bilbo and looking at the world with wide eyes.
"Well, here we are." Bilbo sighed as he stared at the butter yellow door. His entire life had been behind that door, but now his entire life was completely different.
I think I'll paint it…he mused. A new door, a new start…
"This is where you live?" Kíli started to smile.
"Where you live, too, if you want." Bilbo tried to offer casually, but Kíli whipped around with such speed and reigned in enthusiasm that Bilbo had to smile.
Kíli bit his lip sheepishly. "I have nowhere else to go."
"Well that's settled. You can remain here with me, unless your family come and find you, or you remember where you come from and you wish to leave." Bilbo nodded decisively, holding open the gate for Kíli.
"It's…pretty…" Kíli smiled shyly and Bilbo opened up the door with a smile.
"Welcome home, Kíli."
"Home?" Kíli choked.
Worried that he had offended the dwarfling, Bilbo turned, and Kíli launched into his arms. "Thank you, thank you, thank you Bilbo Boggins!"
"You're doing that on purpose now, aren't you?" Bilbo chuckled, tickling the dwarfling under the arms before he could squirm away.
"Thank you Bilbo!" Kíli sang when he got away, whirling around like a dancer and then throwing his arms around Bilbo again.
Bilbo gave Kíli his old, spacious bedroom, taking his parents' old room himself. Though Kíli had lived for more years than Bilbo, if they took the number on Kíli's bow as a date of which fit Bilbo's limited knowledge of dwarven ageing, the dwarfling was still very much a child, while Bilbo was nearing adulthood. Bilbo would not dwell on the literal age difference for years, and Kíli would always treat Bilbo as his elder and superior, even years later when he received concrete confirmation of the thirty year advance he had on the hobbit…
Needless to say, the citizens of Hobbiton were incredibly shocked at the news that the recently orphaned Bilbo Baggins had opened his home to a young dwarf, and some, including the Sackville-Bagginses, were downright horrified.
"Such a rash decision…" folk would say.
"He'll regret it when he comes of age and gets a dash of sense." Others would add.
"Of course he'll regret it!" The bitterer hobbits would sneer. "It's a dwarf child, no doubt a criminal scoundrel already!"
Then the kinder souls would chip in. "But Bilbo is not much more than a child himself. He's surely just lonely, as soon as he gets over the deaths of dear Bungo and Bella he will most certainly send the dwarf back to the mountain."
Bilbo Baggins did no such thing.
Within a week of Kíli's moving to Bag End, Bilbo had bought a whole wardrobe of nice, comfortable clothes that fit both Kíli's boisterous personality and easy dress sense and the simple fashions of the Shire. The young Bilbo Baggins asked Kíli what his favourite colour was, and to the young dwarf's delight proceeded to paint his door green. He bought several toys and trinkets for the young dwarf from the market and the child and almost-adult spent long sunny afternoons duelling with sticks or playing chase through the woods.
In the second week Bilbo took Kíli out into the garden and started to teach him about plants, recognising quickly that Kíli was only trying to look interested, and hurrying the lessons so that he could instead take Kíli to practise shooting his little bow.
In return, Kíli did any chore, however big or small, whenever Bilbo asked it of him. He idolised the hobbit, viewing him as his saviour from the hellish river, his protector from the harsh gossiping hobbits and his make-shift family in the strange lonely world.
Bilbo was a young hobbit, not even of age, whose world had just been turned upside down.
Kíli was a dwarfling with no memories, who could not even remember what his world should have been like.
Bilbo had an empty home, Kíli had an empty head.
They were the perfect match.
So, how was that? Worth continuing? Worth prioritising above Any Other World? Tell me lovely peoples, if not I shall shelve it for a while and hope that young Kíli leaves me alone until I've done :)
I hope you enjoyed it :)