THIS IS IT. Last chapter of this story. I leave tomorrow, on my very own adventure! I know I promised you two other stories, but I failed to keep them! I'm sorry, I've been helplessly busy. I just wanted to let you guys know, however, how grateful I am to you and your support! You are the most fantastic people on the planet, and I wish I could get to know each and every one of you! Thank you so much again! I'll be back in 18 months!:D
Fíli's heart nearly burst from his chest as he hastened to his brother. Kíli looked up at him then, his eyes still bright with the lingering effects of the fever.
"Hey, Fíli." His voice was quiet and weighed down. Traces of pain were still apparent on his face.
But the worst was finally over.
Tauriel quietly moved away from the pair, her thoughts still heavy and swirling. Óin caught her by the arm, babbling excitedly about medicine and magic. She kindly told him what he wanted to know, but her focus remained on the brothers.
"How are you feeling?" Fíli asked, his voice laced with concern.
"Better. All things considering." Kíli answered, a small smirk playing on his lips. He seemed to become aware of himself through the delirium, as he turned his head. "Am I… laying on walnuts?"
"Well, they are your favorite!" Fíli explained, his smile huge. Kíli raised an eyebrow. "And… we couldn't find you a pillow in time."
"No, no. It's fine. It's actually quite comfortable." He demonstrated by nestling his head further in the shells.
"Liar." He cuffed him, very gently, on the head. The grin would not leave his face. He didn't think it ever would.
A giggle erupted from Kíli's lips, pure and unrestrained. Fíli followed, his voice deep and boisterous. Their happiness echoed throughout the home, soon causing the rest to join in. Their mirth could be heard from the inhabitants outside, who also found themselves grinning without a clue as to why.
And they laughed.
Eventually, Kíli's laugh faded into coughs, and the laughter subsided. They went about their business, almost as if nothing had happened at all. Óin and Tauriel continued to speak with one another, medical jargon spilling from their mouths. Bain and Tilda sat around Bofur as he continued his tales, and Sigrid set about cooking up a stew that would be easy on Kíli's still ailing body.
Fíli's eyes were glued on his brother, as if the briefest glance away would make him disappear.
"I was so worried." He choked, his eyes damp. "You nearly didn't make it."
"But I did." Kíli smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. His smile faltered when Fíli's tortured gaze didn't let up. "I'm sorry, Fíli." He closed his eyes, desperate to shut out the world that so loved to harm his family. "I'm so sorry. I was foolish. I was so foolish to think that I was capable of going on this journey. I hurt this quest more than I helped it. I should've stayed home. With Mother. I—"
"No!" Fíli's astonished voice interrupted him. "No, no, Kíli. I don't mean that at all!" He grabbed Kíli's hand into his, his face softening. "No. I only meant to say I was worried for you. Can a brother not have reason to fret?" A reassuring smile spread on his face. "You've done more for this quest than you know. Just think—what would have happened to Bilbo if you weren't there to rescue him by the Trolls? And what about when the Wargs came? Who was the one who shot them down before they could even come near? And surely it wasn't merely Bilbo, Dwalin and I alone who slaughtered the Orcs when Uncle was injured." Kíli furrowed his eyebrows, prepared to retort. But Fíli would have none of it. "Don't forget the reason behind your injury, Kíli."
Kíli closed his eyes, the memories rushing back to him in a flood. Words evaded him, and he could not speak.
"We wouldn't have gotten very far without you. Especially me." Fíli whispered. Yet his voice quickly changed its course. "We're going to take back Erebor, no matter the cost." His words were strong, his eyes shimmering with resolution. "And we need you to help us."
Kíli startled, for he hadn't an idea in the slightest that they were to continue on. He would be too much of a burden. Yet, he couldn't help but hope that it was true. He wanted more than anything to witness with his own eyes the rich heritage of his forefathers.
"We're going to Erebor?" He asked, his voice small and uncertain.
"We're going to Erebor." Fíli smiled. He placed a hand against Kíli's forehead. He pulled away, frowning. "But we need to get you healed first." He turned away. "My Lady?" Tauriel looked up from her less than riveting discussion, a faint smile on her face. "If I may ask, one more time, that you tend to my brother? I think his fever is rising a bit."
"It's just the aftereffects of the healing." She explained smoothly, moving towards them. "You'll feel ill for some time. But you will heal." She smiled down at Kíli. "Are you in any pain—"
The ground shook viciously, nearly toppling everyone in it. Screams erupted from the children.
"Well." Kíli gritted his teeth at the motion, a wry smile playing on his lips. "I am now."
"What was that?" The severity of the situation did not fail to reach Fíli, and he stared at Tauriel with wide eyes, his heart thudding in his chest. Kíli felt fear well up inside as he realized, despite his feverish understanding, what was implied by his brother's words.
But the answer came to them, in the form of a deep, penetrating roar that echoed throughout the city.
It was then that Fíli knew.
There would be no saving Kíli this time.