AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! SQUUUEAAAAAALLLL!

That was my incredibly amazed reaction to receiving 100 reviews before chapter 10! You guys are soooo awesome! Also, there are so many people following this story, thank you all so much!

So, here's the next chapter, as ever sorry for any mistakes!

Read. Enjoy. Review.

Chapter Nine # Nadadith #

"Now, what does this say?" Balin asked patiently, pointing to the next word.

Kíli sighed heavily, and leant his head on his hand heavily. "I don't know."

"Yes you do, laddie." Balin chided gently.

"Um…nadad?"

"Very good. What does that mean?"

"Brother!" Kíli sang, looking to the door. "Is Fíli back yet?"

Balin paused. The twenty year old child was having his first lessons, but Fíli was being taught more complex grammar by Thorin. "No, Fíli won't be back for a while."

Kíli slipped back into boredom. "Oh…"

"Now, how would you say little brother?"

"Um…"

"What does Fíli call you?"

"Nadadith?" Kíli guessed.

"Very good." Balin smiled.

"But he also calls me smelly."

"Does he indeed?" Balin raised an eyebrow.

"He does-"

"We're home!" Fíli's yell caused Kíli to spring up from the table with a happy shout.

"Yay! Nadad!"

As the golden haired dwarfling heard his brother's call, he beamed. "Did you just call me nadad?"

"It means brother!" Kíli puffed up proudly.

"I know that, nadadith!" Fíli giggled, hugging his little brother.

Balin watched with a smile.

Kíli had never been the most receptive Khuzdul student. He was too easily distracted and far too full of energy. Speaking the language had never been a problem, but writing was another thing entirely….

Balin sighed heavily. He had not wanted to take Kíli on the quest. The moment he had received the entire story, his heart told him to leave both Kíli and the hobbit be.

Having Fíli and Ori along for this fool's errand was bad enough for Balin, but both of the other youngsters were trained at least. Kíli had no training, no education, no experience...

The only reason Balin himself had joined the quest was his unbending loyalty to Thorin - in his heart he did not believe their quest could succeed against so many odds on a task that had been the death of Thorin's father before he was within leagues of the thrice cursed dragon. With the upbringing Kíli had received, to take him on such a quest would be tantamount to murder.

Balin did not doubt the lad's heart or courage, but how could a one with the experience of a child survive a quest that had killed a king as strong as Thráin?

If something did happen to Kíli, his brother, uncle and hobbit would surely be crushed beyond healing.

"You still think Thorin made the wrong choice?" Dwalin seemed to read his thoughts as he sat down next to Balin.

"Aye. You of all people know how little stock I hold in the quest, and taking Kíli along when he has as much experience as a child? I fear it won't end happily." Balin admitted, making sure to keep his voice down so that only his brother could hear.

"His body remembers what his mind cannot." Dwalin said quietly. "It won't take long to train-"

"Don't be a fool, brother. Kíli only received the most basic training before we lost him, do you honestly think he will be able to defend himself before the first skirmish?"

Dwalin glared fiercely back at him. "No, I don't, but until he can we can protect him. Forget about the quest, forget about Thorin. Fíli wouldn't have coped if he left Kíli behind again."

Balin sighed again. "If it were me, I would have them both stay behind, and Ori." "The lads have a right to prove themselves-"

"On such a folly task as this?"

Dwalin sent Balin a withering look. "We will slay that damned dragon, and we will retake our homeland."

"That's what we said last time." Balin said darkly.

Their conversation was interrupted by the deliverance of their dinner, and Dwalin shook his head.

Throughout the next day of riding, the warrior kept a very close eye on Kíli.

Though the journey out of the Shire was far too peaceful for Dwalin's liking, Kíli seemed more than comfortable with the peace. If they had been journeying with the boy Dwalin had known, Kíli would have been complaining to high heaven about the lack of action, but the life in the Shire had clearly accustomed the lad to peace.

If Dwalin did not have such an insatiable thirst for action, he would have thought such a life a paradise. Dwalin, unlike Thorin and his brother, had been born in exile, and he had spent the majority of his childhood hungry and afraid.

It appeared that Kíli had lived a life which had everything Dwalin had not, but lacked most things that Dwalin had.

Kíli interacted well with the others – he had not lost his curiosity or his confidence. He asked many questions, to the point where Fíli occasionally guided him away from irritated elders. The very sight of Fíli looking after Kíli warmed Dwalin's hardened heart, and the two boys were together more often than not.

There was a certain gentleness about Kíli that was not something often found in dwarves, and Dwalin could not quite put his finger on it. Unfortunately, it reminded him of his brother's words and highlighted a certain vulnerability about the boy as well.

When they camped for the evening, Kíli was eager to train again, and once again Dwalin helped Fíli to teach his brother. He was very proud to see Fíli copying some of his teaching techniques, and he became surer of his arguments against Dwalin at Kíli's improvement, even from the night before.

Training finished around an hour before sundown and when it did Kíli leant against a tree and began to remove his boots. He had noticed the previous day that the dwarves had kept their boots on all night, for ease apparently, but he hated the feeling of his feet being squished in boots all day and all night.

"Kíli?"

He looked up at Thorin. "Yes?"

"Would you come with me?"

Kíli nodded at the dwarf who was his uncle but he glanced at Bilbo before he moved.

"We aren't going far." Thorin assured him.

Kíli nodded again and followed Thorin into the woods, not missing the way that Thorin glanced at his bare feet. Regardless, the dwarf said nothing until they reached a small clearing, no bigger than the entrance hall to Bag End.

"What are we doing?" Kíli asked a little nervously.

"Yesterday, you said that you could not read or speak Khuzdul."

"That's right." Kíli shuffled anxiously.

"Here…" Thorin knelt down on the floor and traced several runes into the dust. "That says 'khuzd', and means 'dwarf'."

Kíli's mouth dropped open a little, and he slowly sat down. "Khuzd?"

"Exactly." Thorin smiled.

"Khuzd." Kíli repeated, a smile creeping onto his face. Hesitantly, he copied the runes onto the sandy ground with a stick.

"Very good…" Thorin nodded, before frowning. "Though, it may make a little more sense to start with the alphabet. Forgive me, I am not the most experienced of teachers."

"There's nothing to forgive." Kíli assured Thorin. "And the alphabet would be a good place to start. Thank you very much for teaching me."

The lesson continued until they ran out of light, by which point the Kíli knew the entire alphabet and a handful of simple words and phrases. To his joy, he was a quick learner when it came to the dwarven language.

Bilbo looked up when they returned, and Kíli could see the relief in his eyes, so he made a point to sit down next to his hobbit.

"What were you doing?"

Kíli could recognise the poorly hidden tension behind Bilbo's genuine curiosity, and he leant into Bilbo for a moment. "Thorin was teaching me some Khuzdul."

"Oh, I see…" Bilbo smiled at Kíli. "That's good…"

Kíli glanced around the camp before whispering very quietly in Bilbo's ear.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Bilbo whispered back, but his smile was significantly clipped.

"Bilbo, I can read you like a book." Kíli nudged Bilbo in the ribs gently. "There's something wrong."

"Don't worry about it, Kíli. I'm fine." Bilbo insisted in his patented 'end of conversation' tone.

Kíli frowned slightly, but gratefully accepted a bowl of stew from Bofur.

"Kíli, you can take the last watch with Fíli tonight." Thorin's order flew across the camp and Kíli nodded.

When Fíli woke him up for the watch, light was just starting to seep through the canopy of trees above.

"Morning."

"Morning!" Kíli yawned, propping himself up on his elbows. "Ow…"

"Are you alright?" Fíli frowned, and Kíli nodded.

"I just ache." He explained with a wince. "I'm not used to travelling. Or training."

Fíli helped him up and they sat together on a nearby tree smoking some fine pipe weed from the Shire.

"This is good." Fíli said quietly, studying his pipe.

"Longbottom leaf…" Kíli nodded. "It is good."

"So… is there anyone getting on your nerves yet?" Fíli asked with a smile.

"No, not at all." Kíli shook his head. "Are we too boring for you yet?"

Fíli laughed quietly and then mimicked his brother's words. "No, not at all. Thorin was teaching you Khuzdul, wasn't he?"

"He was…" Kíli nodded, and his brother smiled at him.

"Thorin has not tutored a single soul in twenty one years. Before you…before it…well, he had just given you your first history lessons… Afterwards he left all of my lessons to Balin." Fíli explained, putting a hand on Kíli's arm.

Kíli smiled sadly, trying not to bite his lip as he admitted his regret to his brother. "I suppose…the thing about losing your memory…I never realised before that…well…I suppose that I never suspected I could be missed so much…"

"You never suspected…what?" Fíli stared at Kíli as if he had grown an extra head and the dark haired dwarf squirmed uncomfortably.

"Well I was found in a river with a head wound and nobody came for me…I never knew that…" Kíli cast his eyes down to the floor.

Fíli looked at Kíli intently for a moment before pulling him into a hug for the first time since they had been reunited. Kíli gave a little smile and then hugged Fíli back, leaning his head on his brother's shoulder for a moment.

Kíli quickly settled into a routine of sorts, his hobbit-y upbringing revelling in the security brought by the expected. He would rise with the others at the crack of dawn and stumble sleepily onto his pony after a quick breakfast.

Mornings were used for planning and for light conversation - usually with Ori, Bofur, and Nori. At around lunchtime they ate on the go, with Kíli naturally gravitating towards Bilbo, with whom he would spend the afternoon. By late afternoon, they would make camp and train for a few hours with Dwalin, while the last hour or so of light was dedicated to Khuzdul with Thorin. Every night he would watch with his brother, and watches were used to speak about deeper, more private matters and to share quiet memories.

Fíli was usually by his side throughout the entire day with the sole exception of the Khuzdul lessons with Thorin, and Kíli liked it. He would have thought it stifling in theory, but in reality Fíli just…there. He was unassuming and he could be as quiet as a mouse. However, he could also be just as loud or bouncy as Kíli, and he always seemed to know how to react at the right moment. It had not taken long for the word 'brother' to mean something to Kíli.

He just did not realise how much it meant until the storm came.

Kíli pressed his face against the misty window pane and watched the rain pound the ground viciously, displacing the previously sandy road at the bottom of the garden path as thunder rumbled across the Shire.

Lightening crackled across the sky like the whip of the Valar, illuminating the entire Shire against the black clouds and Kíli gasped.

"Let's go out!"

When there was no reply, he looked around for the hobbit he had been living with for just over a year, spotting him finally, lingering in the shadows of the kitchen.

"Can we go out in the rain, oh please can we?"

Another crack of lightening lit up Bilbo's unnaturally dark face, marred by an expression the dwarfling had never seen before, and Kíli blinked.

"Bilbo? What's wrong?" To his utmost horror, tears sprang to Bilbo's eyes, and he gasped again. "Bilbo, Bilbo what's wrong?"

The hobbit slowly joined him by the window and stared across the storm infested hills, putting a hand on Kíli's shoulder before pulling him into a hug. "I haven't seen a storm for a while..."

"Why does that make you cry?" Kíli asked, baffled as he gently pulled away, and Bilbo wiped his eyes.

"Kíli, the last time I saw a storm like this was the night that my parents died." Kíli's mouth made a little 'o' shape, and Bilbo continued. "It was also the night I found you, the night you nearly..."

They stared at the rain in silence for a moment and then Kíli piped up quietly. "The storm brought me here?"

"Yes..." Bilbo sighed quietly.

"Then it wasn't all bad." Kíli hoped, and Bilbo smiled at him in surprise. "This is home."

Bilbo put an arm over Kíli's shoulder and drew him closer with a sad little sigh. "What would I do without you, Kíli?"

"Become a stuffy so-and-so who cares more about doilies and dishcloths than having fun?" Kíli sent up an angelic smile as Bilbo laughed.

Another slamming round of thunder crashed down, and Kíli stared longingly at the door.

"Why on earth do you want to go out in that?" Bilbo shook his head and Kíli grinned.

"It would be fun."

"Oh, well..." Bilbo sighed. "Here goes my sanity."

Kíli squealed as Bilbo pulled open the door, and the dwarfling dashed out into the pouring rain, tipping his head to the heavens and allowing the rain to pour over his face. Within moments he was soaked to the bone.

"Be quick, Kíli." Bilbo worried. "You'll catch your death out there..."

"It's fine!" Kíli insisted, wiping his soaking fringe away from his eyes so that he could see.

He twirled around, laughing in what seemed to be a maniacal dance, though it was mainly an attempt to cheer up Bilbo.

A lightning strike shot down from the heavens and crackled along the weather vein of the house next door, causing the wood beneath it to smoke and Kíli gasped. Bilbo yelped, his hobbit's sense of danger coming into play as he darted outside and grabbed Kíli's hand.

"That's enough!"

They ran back inside and Kíli laughed. "That was fun!"

"I'm glad." Bilbo smiled. "Though now you need a bath."

"What?" Kíli gasped. "But I washed in the rain!"

Bilbo shook his head, unwilling to argue with the child. "Go and get into your nightclothes then, and dry off properly! The last thing we need is you getting sick."

"Yes, sir!" Kíli saluted, squelching through the house.

When he emerged from his bedroom trying to towel dry his tussled hair, he saw Bilbo sitting in his armchair staring at the roaring fire, his eyes clouded with nostalgia as a single tear made its way down his cheek.

Kíli froze, completely unsure of what he should do.

Should he hug Bilbo and tell him that everything was going to be fine until the sorrow ebbed away, or should he leave the hobbit in peace?

Bilbo knew exactly what to do when Kíli was upset, but the dwarfling had no idea what he should do for Bilbo. He snuck forward another step, but his sneaking was not very effective and the hobbit turned.

"Your hair's still soaking..." Bilbo tutted gently, patting his lap.

Kíli ran over happily and clambered up onto Bilbo's lap, handing Bilbo the towel.

As the hobbit dried Kíli's hair, he spoke quietly. "I wish you could have known them. They would have loved you."

"Do you think so?"

"I know so."

Kíli looked up and instead of moving with the dwarfling's head Bilbo dropped the towel. "Will you tell me about them?"

"Oh, well..." Bilbo smiled. "Where to begin... I believe that my mother would have spoilt you from the start. She was very Tookish, always up for an imaginary adventure but she would always act very respectably, my father was a very strong Baggins type..."

As Kíli listened to Bilbo's bittersweet memories of his parents he nestled into the hobbit's chest a little more. Bilbo rested his chin on Kíli's wet hair as he talked, and he talked until he started to cry quietly.

Kíli wrapped his arms around Bilbo in an attempt to comfort the hobbit, willing to cuddle his only family for as long as he needed. He did not try to shush Bilbo - he knew full well that sometimes even adults needed to cry until their tears carried all of the bitterness from their sorrow.

Outside, the thunder ceased but the rain continued, washing away the sorrows of the day down the path as it lulled the make-shift family to sleep.

On the first day of the third week of travel, the rain began, gathering strength until it became a constant downpour that dampened everyone's spirits.

Two days later the thunder began, and Kíli noticed both Bilbo and Fíli retreating further into themselves – and their hoods.

"Take care!" Thorin's yell carried down the line. "We should dismount, the path is treacherous!"

Kíli glanced ahead and had to agree - the density of the trees had forced the mounted company onto a thin stretch of rocks barely as wide as Bombur that was balanced precariously atop the bank of a raging river.

As the company began to obey, Kíli paused to remove his sodden boots.

"What on earth are you doing?" Fíli yelled over the rain and Kíli grinned at his brother.

"I'll have better grip without them."

The nearby Glóin looked less than convinced, but Fíli nodded with begrudging acceptance. Sliding off of his pony, Kíli began to follow Bilbo across carefully. Suddenly he was tugged back by a very indignant pony.

"Come on, Daisy!" He pulled on the pony's reigns and with a reluctant wicker she followed him.

Fíli, who was directly behind him, shifted to dismount, but as he did so the pony's hooves lost their grip on the slippery rocks. With a cry of surprise, Fíli was dragged into the river by a falling pony.

"Fíli!" Kíli cried in horror, and Thorin whirled around.

"No!"

"Fíli!" Kíli repeated, looking desperately into the murky river as the whinnying pony resurfaced alone. "Fíli, Fíli!"

His heart pounded painfully as the pony kicked its way towards a nearby gravel beach, urged on by Bifur and swaying a few times in the current.

Kíli scoured for a moment more and then reacted without thinking further.

"Kíli, wait!" Bilbo cried in a panic as the young dwarf ripped off his sodden, restrictive coat and plunged into the river.

Ignoring his hobbits frantic pleas, Kíli dove down further, the glinting of golden hair catching his eye. Resisting the flow of the current with all his strength, Kíli pulled himself downwards and squinted until the thrashing figure of his brother came into view.

Kicking powerfully, Kíli grabbed onto Fíli's arm and his brother's head snapped up to look at him. Blind panic shone through Fíli's eyes, and the sheer fear evident in his brother's face nearly froze Kíli's heart.

Fíli thrashed around again, trying to use Kíli's arm to pull himself up, but all the panicked movements did was drag them both further down, so Kíli tugged his arm out of his brother's grip.

He had not thought that it would have been possible for the fear in Fíli's eyes to increase, but it did, and he put his hand on Fíli's shoulder as he glanced down.

Already his lungs were burning.

The force of the tumble had ripped the saddle from the pony, but it had tangled around Fíli's legs and anchored itself to a long dead tree at the bottom of the lake, affectively tying Fíli to the bottom of the lake.

Fíli's frantic attempts to loosen the straps had resulted only in tightening the cords wrapping around his legs.

Knife, Kíli thought as he tugged desperately at the ropes, Fíli, where's your knife?

Bubbles flew past Kíli's cheek as Fíli's hand batted against his brother's face. Kíli's heart stopped beating as Fíli struggled to prevent himself from taking a breath.

He pressed his hand against Fíli's cheek desperately, pleading with his brother to hold on as he tore at the tangled cords. Kicking himself further down, Kíli managed to distangle Fíli's legs, but as he floated back up he saw his brother's eyes rolling backwards.

Crying out automatically, Kíli clamped his mouth shut to prevent the water from flowing in and propelled himself up towards the surface.

The moment his head broke free of the water he gasped deeply, pulling Fíli up and smashing him on the back. Apparently, the older dwarf's loss of consciousness had been weak, because he coughed and spluttered until his eyes widened and he gripped onto Kíli's arm with terror.

"Over here!" Dwalin yelled, waving at the bank, and Kíli nodded.

Fíli was still panicking, and Kíli held onto his arm tightly. "Let the current carry you downstream, Fíli."

"No!" Fíli gasped, coughing. "We'll drown!"

Kíli kept his voice calm. "No one is going to drown."

"If we let the current take us-"

Kíli turned Fíli to face him as they desperately tried to tread water, staring intently into his brother's blue eyes. "Fee, trust me. I won't let you drown, I promise. Just relax..."

Gasping slightly, Fíli blinked, and then he let his body relax, tightening his grip on Kíli's arms. The moment Kíli himself stopped fighting they spun down the river at a stomach churning pace. Eyeing a nearby tree leaning over the river, Kíli prepared himself.

The moment the opportunity arose, he threw his hands into the air and grasped the branch, holding onto Fíli with his legs. With expert skill, Kíli used his arms to pull himself onto a nearby branch while still keeping his legs around Fíli's chest until he could reach down with his arms and pull him up.

The youngest dwarf breathed heavily as Fíli leant against him, and he waved at the dwarves now less than twenty yards away to signal that they were alright.

"Oh, Mahal..." Fíli whispered, his fingers stark white as they grasped the branch.

"It will be fine." Kíli promised, easily climbing towards the trunk - and the bank.

Fíli started to follow him, struggling on the slippery branches. He fell with a cry and almost swung full out of the tree, grappling for any bough he could. Within moments Kíli returned, and he offered Fíli his hand.

"I can't!" Fíli croaked, his arms wrapped tightly around a nearby branch.

"Of course you can!" Kíli insisted, coming closer.

"The branch is creaking-"

"The branch is fine!"

Reluctantly, Fíli let go of the branch and grasped Kíli's hand.

"Just follow me and we'll be fine." Kíli smiled.

Fíli nodded shakily, gripping Kíli's forearm with an iron hold. With the professional ability of a true tree climber, Kíli led them both to the end of the tree, right next to where the company were waiting.

Fíli got down first, helped in his clumsy movements by Thorin and Dwalin, while Kíli sprang down, and shook his head wildly.

Instantly, Bilbo was there and he embraced Kíli fiercely. "Oh…Kíli…Are you alright?"

"I'm fine..." Kíli smiled weakly, trying to regain his breath. "Fíli?"

"I'm alright..." The blond dwarf's voice was little more than a whisper and Kíli stumbled over to his brother, who was sitting on the floor with his head between his knees.

The other dwarves turned away, with the exception of Thorin and Óin.

"Kíli, are you hurt?" Thorin demanded, a strange look in his eyes.

"No, I'm fine." Kíli repeated, flopping down next to Fíli.

"We will rest here a minute." Thorin ordered, patting Fíli on the shoulder and standing up. "I will be back in a moment."

As he walked away, spoke quietly to Bilbo. Kíli watched curiously as Bilbo glanced at him with worry before nodding and following Thorin away.

"Kíli, I am sorry..." Fíli murmured without moving his head from his knees.

"What for?" Kíli asked, baffled, and Fíli looked at him with haunted eyes.

"I did not think - I panicked, and you could have died..."

"It wasn't your fault!" Kíli insisted, putting a hand on Fíli's arm. "So you panicked, that happens sometimes...what does it matter?"

"We're trained not to panic, Kíli! I should have known better, if I had just thought about things the way I was trained..."

"Oh, stop it!" Kíli scoffed. "We're alive, and we're alright so it doesn't matter."

"It matters." Fíli all but growled, gripping Kíli's hand painfully tightly. "You don't understand!"

As Kíli winced slightly Fíli looked down and instantly let go of his brother's hand, shaking his head.

"I'm sorry..."

"You're right, I don't understand. If you explain it to me, maybe I can. I'm not as dumb as I look."

Fíli did not smile, and he sighed heavily, looking at Kíli. "You're not going to let this go, are you?"

"Nope." Kíli grinned, nudging Fíli gently.

The older brother sighed, and looked at the floor again. "I...I let you go. I tried so hard to protect you but all I ever do is put you in more danger."

"They both blame themselves, for what happened all those years ago… Fíli blames himself for not being able to hold onto you."

"And now…I've had training, experience, you've had nothing, but I put your life in danger…" Fíli shook his head.

"Fíli, I still don't understand entirely." Kíli said quietly. "You're blaming yourself for situations out of your control."

Fíli looked back at Kíli, his eyes burning with guilt. "I'm so sorry. Kee, I'm sorry for everything!"

Kíli smiled softly, knowing that only three words could truly make Fíli feel remotely better. "I forgive you."

Fíli's mouth dropped open, and then he slowly smiled. "Thank you, nadadith."

"You're welcome." Kíli responded, slinging his arm around his brother. "You do know what comes now, don't you?"

When Fíli frowned, Kíli grinned. "A good few hours of watching Bilbo try - and fail - to not act like a fussy mother hen."

Fíli laughed, coughing a little. "Thank you, Kíli. Thank you for saving my life."

"Anytime." Kíli laughed, before promising sincerely. "Honestly, Fíli… Anytime."

Fíli smiled sadly, taking a deep breath. "Are you alright?"

Kíli rolled his eyes. "I am fine yes."

They both stood up and Fíli nodded at Thorin.

"Move out!" Thorin ordered. "And be careful!"

The company moved on slowly, and as soon as the path widened Bilbo joined Kíli, speaking very quietly.

"Are you certain that you're alright?"

"I'm positive, Bilbo." Kíli shot his most innocent smile at Bilbo, who rolled his eyes.

"I'm proud of you." he murmured quietly.

"Thank you…" Kíli smiled. "I told you that practising swimming would be a good idea."

"That you did." Bilbo admitted. "Wasn't that the only thing Esme wouldn't do?"

"Yes… We even got Drogo and Prim swimming and now they go off rowing every few months, but Esme was too afraid to even dip her toe in. Oh, we never let her live that down…" Kíli sighed wistfully. He shook his head and tried to distract himself. "So what did Thorin say to you?"

To his surprise, Bilbo looked a little agitated. "Oh…uh…nothing. I think he just wanted to give you and Fíli some space…"

"Oh, alright." Kíli mused.

That evening, to everyone's immense delight, Gandalf directed them to a large, dry cave. Soon, Glóin and Óin had a roaring fire going, and there was more laughter and storytelling than there had been in days.

As Kíli leant against the wall of the cave, Thorin sat down next to him, speaking so quietly that Kíli knew he would be the only one to hear Thorin's words.

"I am very proud of you, Kíli, and very grateful. You were very brave today."

Kíli smiled a little. "Thank you."

"I mean it." Thorin insisted, putting a hand on Kíli's shoulder. "I'm very proud of you."

Kíli smiled again and nodded.

Thorin looked as if he wanted to say something else, but he just smiled weakly and walked away.

He watched Kíli laugh with the others, and he watched Kíli snuggle down between Fíli and the hobbit. He watched Kíli drift off to sleep quickly, and he barely noticed the rest of the company doing the same.

He watched his nephew's chest rise and fall, and he felt tears fighting to escape from his eyes.

Thorin took a deep breath.

He wanted to say it, but he could not. He had long since lost access to such words, and he felt so lost.

Kíli had no idea how much he meant to Thorin – how could he?

Thorin wished he was more like his sister. Dís was very expressive, she would know what to say, what to do.

Why were the words 'I love you' so difficult to say?

Aw, poor Thorin!

I hope everyone was in character!

Any suggestions of what you want to see next in amongst a trio of trolls? :P

Thanks for reading, see you soon :P