Title: A Terrible Mistake
Series: A Matter of Perspective
Pairings: Kíli/Bilbo, Fíli/OC
Warnings: racism and homophobia
Word Count: 6514 (34,457 total)
Disclaimer: If I owned the Hobbit no one would die (well except Thorin apparently)
Summary: Fíli does not approve of his brother's new infatuation
Part I: Reverie
Part II: Ruin
Part III: Rancor
Part IV: Rift
Part V: Regret
Time passes and though I miss my brother every day, I lose myself in the work of rebuilding Erebor. There is much that must be done to repair the enormous damage that Smaug caused in his attack and in the long centuries that he dwelled within the Lonely Mountain. So for weeks after the Battle of Five Armies, my people must live in tents upon the plain until finally enough debris is cleared and the first dwarves can truly return to Erebor.
However, even then only a small portion of the mountain is liveable: many areas are still blocked off and each cleared passage just brings a further litany of woe. Living areas are filled with thick dust that chokes the air, the remnants of furniture and cloth long since decayed, while the stores of food and other perishables have rotted away and even the mines, the life blood of my kingdom, are in need of much repair before they can be worked again.
Without my grandfather's treasure this task would be hopeless for it may be years before we can produce enough of anything to trade. Each new disaster means that more gold will be required to return Erebor to its former glory and sometimes I do resent the cost. However, on those dark days when I wish that Kíli were here for me to lean on, I remember my uncle's dying words and I know that it will be worth it in the end.
In these hard times, I discover that my traveling companions are invaluable, for as miners, tailors, scholars and tinkers, they are the ones who know what must be done and how.
Even our reluctant allies are actually of some use; although Dáin leaves quickly after the battle is over and our dead buried, many of his dwarves choose to stay and make new lives within my kingdom. They are a vital source of energy and labor for our task since most of my people are still in the Blue Mountains, though hopefully my message will reach them soon. However, the best news is that there is a family of stone-carvers among their number, since only dwarves have the skill needed to heal the scars that the dragon left behind.
Similarly, Thranduil returns to his forest as soon as propriety allows, but the elves remain a ready source of timber and supplies as long as we can pay. And last but not least, the men rebuilding Dale on our doorstep share many of our problems and thus are often willing to cooperate when a solution can be found.
Now that we are no longer fighting at cross-purposes- now that he has his share of treasure, I find Bard to be a reasonable man and a leader who truly cares about his people. Over the weeks that follow the Battle of Five Armies and its aftermath, the two of us spend long hours in council together, heads bent over reports and maps as we try to find answers to the urgent questions of rebuilding, repopulating and general survival.
Bard is also the first person who dares to ask about my brother, dares to question Kíli's whereabouts. No one else has even noticed his absence, other than the members of our company who already know my brother's fate and have learned not to even think his name within my presence unless they want to feel my wrath.
So when the man mentions that he hasn't seen Kíli for quite some time and asks if he is healing well, I am not sure what to say. I manage to mutter that he is fine through gritted teeth, and Bard seems overjoyed to hear this news.
However, he must not notice how I've stiffened for the man will not let the matter rest. Instead Bard inquires about Kíli's location, wondering if he will be around soon so that they can have their contest, and I want to snap at his impudence.
Yet I force myself to hold my temper because by now I have accepted that Erebor cannot stand alone, not yet, and this man is the finest ally that I have. Instead I calmly inform him that my brother is in the Shire for the foreseeable future, acting as a diplomat to Bilbo's people and I wait until Bard leaves before my composure cracks and I beat the walls until my fists are bloody.
However, over time the wound scabs over and I find that it actually is nice to have someone whom I can talk to about Kíli without shame. I discover that I needed someone who honestly likes my brother and knows nothing of his dishonor, and I start to think that Bard could become something of a friend.
It would be good to have a friend as the rebuilding stretches ever onward, limited by time and skill and manpower, and I soon discover that as the king true friends are hard to find. Everyone wants something from me and friendship becomes just another tool used by those whom I do not wish to please, and though my companions and I remain close, my brother stands like a wall between us. None of them agree with my decision to banish Kíli from my sight, not even the eldest, and so I cannot turn to them for solace as before.
I need a friend even more on the day that the first dwarves from Ered Luin finally arrive and I must look my mother in the face and tell her that her brother is no more. Though I had sent news of Thorin's death with the messengers that called my people home, there is a difference between hearing it and knowing, that final loss of hope when you look upon a tomb.
I support my mother then, because while Dís is strong she has known much grief and there is no shame in tears that fall for family passed beyond. Yet when she has finished and we are sitting in the royal chambers, mother straightens up and asks the one question that I really do not want to answer.
"Son, what in Mahal's name is going on here? Where is your younger brother and why will no one meet my eyes when I ask them that question? Even Dwalin broke and ran after assuring me that Kíli had not died." Her gaze is stern and I am reminded of my childhood; she would turn that same stare upon us when we were causing trouble and I know that I will crack beneath it soon enough.
"He is alive, mother, he simply isn't here." I prevaricate, wondering exactly how long I can put off this discussion. The answer is, unfortunately, not very long at all.
"Fíli, where is your brother and precisely why is he not here?" And there's the mother voice. If I could master that, then I could rule the world.
Just as I knew I would, I break under her questioning and the whole sordid tale comes pouring out: how Kíli fell in love with the hobbit, his betrayal and the battle, Thorin's words, and the choice that Kíli made in the end. Mother stays quiet while I speak and when I finish she reaches out and takes me in her arms.
"My poor, poor boys," she whispers as she holds me. "You must know, Fíli, that your brother's choice was not your fault nor failure. Kíli has always been one to carve his own tunnels and you could not have stopped his heart. Indeed, I think the attempts we made to mold him hurt us all greatly in the end. That said, you are an idiot."
My head comes up at this and I wince for though Dís said those words in the same tone as all the rest, I can see the pity and sorrow in her eyes.
"I know that it's our fault as well, your uncle's and mine. After your father died, we spent too much time on Fíli the heir and not enough on Fíli the dwarf because we were terrified that in our exile we would lose that which unites our people. This is why we raised you with the strictest laws and the highest ideals of honor, so that when our kingdom was reclaimed none could say that the House of Durin was no longer worthy of it's glory. But we should have let your brother breathe and we should have taught you the difference between doing what is lawful and doing what is right."
Mother must see the total lack of comprehension on my face- aren't they one and the same?- because she just sighs and shakes her head.
"You will be a good king, I have no fear of that. I have seen the signs already when I looked upon our people and traveled the halls of Erebor, but my brother was right and the world is changing. You could have accepted Kíli's choice without destroying all our hopes even if some of the more traditional nobles would have sneered and I think this would have made you happier in the end.
There is more to a family than the honor of its name and you cannot protect the ones you love by choosing their lives for them. I am not going to tell you what to do and I am not going to pick sides, because you are my king now and you are both my sons. Just remember that I love you and if you ever want your brother back, you must make the first concession."
She kisses me on the forehead and then returns to her rooms, leaving me with much to think about.
It seems that everyone is against me, everyone thinks I should have just accepted Kíli's madness, including those who taught me what was right. Yet even if the world is changing, does that truly change what Mahal requires, can that really be an excuse for forsaking oaths and duty? Or are we just losing sight of the proper way? I know that many of my people may choose to follow a similar path given the realities of our population, but shouldn't royalty be held to a higher standard? And time is still on my side.
The first letter arrives some six months after Kíli left, carried on the wings of a messenger raven that is some kin to Roäc. He delivers it directly to my bedroom window before flying off to roost and when I unroll the scroll to read it, I am a hair's breadth from throwing it into the fire.
Should you change your mind, your brother is in the Shire, care of Bag End.
Just fifteen words written in an unfamiliar looping hand and I know that it must be the hobbit, though I cannot say whether he wishes to taunt me or if he honestly wants me to know my brother's fate.
I think about replying for a moment as I look down upon the paper in my hands. I could give an account of the glory that is returning to Erebor, now that it is finally rebuilt; speak of the trade agreements I worked out with Dale and Mirkwood which have luxuries once again flowing into the Lonely Mountain and of the dwarves coming from miles around to join my reborn kingdom.
I could, but I won't. While the news might make him jealous, Kíli has already proved to care little for gold or riches and to make the first move would be to admit my fault.
So I throw the message in a drawer and put it from my mind as I return to the endless work of ruling a kingdom: the disputes, the laws, the planning, and the thousand and one details that must be done or delegated. But of course the hobbit cannot end his meddling there and just leave me in peace once and for all.
No, my denial of my brother's existence is challenged again when a scant three months later another scroll arrives, this one in the hands of a group of traders traveling from the west who say that they were asked to pass it on.
Kíli has made a place for himself in the Shire. He is working as a smith and he is happy now so your promise has been kept. We will be wed in 6 months time should you wish to send a representative or attend youself.
The hobbit's impertinence makes me grind my teeth and crumple the missive in my hand, throwing it in a ball upon my desk. As though I would wish to celebrate their perverted union even if I had the time.
I do not see the hands that lift it carefully from the wood and smooth it out so that the writing can be read. Although I do notice when a number of my companions and my own mother suddenly wish to take conveniently timed trips in that direction. However, all of them have plausible excuses and confronting them with the truth would mean acknowledging Kíli's existence which I still cannot bear to do. So instead I turn a blind eye as they ride off to celebrate my greatest failure, laden with gifts far better than my brother's love deserves.
In spite of all my bitterness this does remind me that I should marry soon as well, because no kingdom is truly secure without an heir to hold its future. Unlike my brother I decide to find my partner through the proper channels and so I have Balin write up a list of suitable dwarf maidens. When I receive his choices, I see that the old dwarf has served me well for while there are few options, they are all from good families and of the proper age.
I begin the selection process immediately because I plan to take my courting slow, despite the small number of women whom I have to choose from. I do not want to be misled by a pretty face or quick smile into making a hasty decision, not when this could make or break the future of my kingdom.
So I use the excuse of honoring old traditions to make the process last and I immediately eliminate those who cannot tell that I am lying through my teeth. Of those women who remain, I eventually narrow it down to three, because I know that I need a spouse who can handle the responsibilities of being queen and warrior as well as wife and mother, and only these have seen the field of battle.
After much deliberation, I finally propose to one Helva, daughter of Rundím, for she is fair of face and swift of tongue, and handles her battleaxe and embroidery needles with equal skill. If I do not love her with the grand passion of my brother, then I think that we will at least be content and work well together.
Thus, when my mother finally returns from her “diplomatic endeavors” in the West, I greet her with the news of my engagement. I am greatly relieved when she seems to approve of my choice and throws herself into planning the royal wedding with somewhat manic glee. Probably just happy that she finally has a chance of getting grandchildren.
My wedding takes place one year later and the ceremony is a grand affair that will be the talk of all fair peoples for decades yet to come. We are married in state and in abundance as befits Erebor's restored prosperity and the dwarf-lords from all six other kingdoms send a representative to honor my union in their stead. The fact that most send their heirs is an acknowledgment of my power and it sends a pleased thrill through me to see them standing there as I wait for my bride.
However, once I see her walking toward me such thoughts leave my mind for Helva is truly lovely and I find myself bewitched by the radiant smile on her face. Perhaps there will be passion after all, I muse as I lean down to kiss my new wife firmly and then take her by the arm to greet our guests.
The Kings of Dale and Mirkwood have attended in person as is my due, and so of course they must be the first to speak their congratulations. Bard gives me an enormous smile and a heartfelt blessing, wishing me all the happiness that his wife has ever brought him and many children to carry on my line. In contrast, Thanduil only inclines his head in one of his condescending nods but I am comforted by the fact that unlike his failure of an outfit, my wedding raiment matches and last month the balance of our trade with the elves finally swung my way.
It is a satisfactory night all around and my marriage is well-consummated so I do not understand what I am still waiting for; I do not understand until I wake the next morning to find another letter on my windowsill and something in me eases.
Congratulations. May your marriage be fruitful and your lives be filled with joy.
For many years our lives are exactly that and soon a routine of sorts is underway. Helva takes to being queen as a fish does to swimming and Erebor grows ever stronger with her ruling at my side. Over time I find that love does indeed grow between us, built upon strong foundations of friendship and respect. While it is a quiet love compared to the whirlwind of my brother's, there is heat as well and I never have any reason to regret my choice.
In fact there is only cause for celebration because our family is truly blessed, more blessed than I could have hoped for and my wife bears me not one but three children to carry on my line. First, there is the eldest son, named Jilí II after my father and with him alone I would have been content. However, a decade later Mahal grants us a true miracle in the birth of our twin daughters, that rarest treasure of our race. We call them Frísa and Freyda and they are the light of our kingdom as they grow.
A few times every year, I receive a message from the Shire, written in that same looping hobbit's hand, and often brought back by members of our old company from more "diplomatic missions" in the West. Most of the notes are innocuous, simply describing how their life is going, or sending congratulations for the milestones in mine, but even then I often feel a sting.
Kíli finally used some of his earnings to build himself a proper dwarven forge. You should have seen the disgust at the old one and I was tired of the whining. We could have done it sooner but he wanted to pay for it himself. Stubborn dwarf.
Your brother has been teaching me archery. It began as an excuse to keep his hand in but I've done well enough that he's started talking about training a proper militia in the future. Some of the older hobbits keep asking me to reign him in, but now that I've seen the wider world I'm not sure that I want to. It would be good for us to be able to defend ourselves if the wolves or worse should ever come again.
We were overjoyed to hear of the birth of your son, though I wonder if you will ever tell him of his uncle. May he live a long and happy life.
Kíli misses you, you know, in the quiet moments when he turns to speak and discovers no one there. And I'm sure you miss him too, when you allow yourself to feel it. But while I regret your pain, I cannot regret the choice he made, not when Kíli looks at me as though I am a miracle every time I say that I love him. Not when all his nightmares involve me leaving him again. What did you do to make your brother so sure he can't be happy? Why is he so afraid that I will change my mind? Or perhaps it is simply the knowledge that our time is running out.
I feel that I must apologize for the despair of my last missive because it is spring and time to talk of hopeful things. Sometimes your words just lay heavy on my thoughts and I could hate you for giving me the knowledge that I must break Kíli's heart again. But I will fill the years we have together with joy and love and laughter, and I intend to put off dying as long as I can.
Did you know that your brother simply cannot dance? He plays a mean fiddle though and says your uncle taught you both. I thought you might wish to know that not all his memories are dark.
Your daughters are lovely and the Valar have truly blessed your family. I enclosed the pendants that Kíli made for them as soon as he heard the news, though you may do with them what you will.
Sometimes I think the hobbit uses me as a confessor because he knows that I will never answer and I have to admit that it comforts me sometimes to know how deeply my brother is still loved. However, though I always read the letters I still cannot admit that I might have been wrong, not even with my brother's gift weighing heavy in my hands.
The pendants are beautiful, graceful flowers finely wrought in mithril and I can feel the love that Kíli forged into each delicate petal, leaf and stem. Yet despite my brother's skill I hide these gifts in the same drawer as all the hobbit's letters and there they gather dust for years, until my daughter changes everything.
My three children are the great joys of my heart, a solace against the daily stress and strife that comes with being king. I love them all dearly and my son is strong, the spitting image of his grandfather, so as soon as he is ready I begin training him to be my heir.
However, my miracle daughters will always hold a special place in my heart and it is my Freyda who finally changes the way I see the world. While Jilí and Frísa have their mother's even temperament and are happy in the roles that they were born to play, Freyda is as wild as her uncle ever was. Though born just a few minutes after her sister, the two could not be more different because she is always exploring, always questioning and never content to let things be because they are.
Watching my beloved youngest daughter I am reminded of older days long forgotten, when my little brother smiled just as brilliantly as that. He was such an inquisitive child, always wanting to know the whys behind the world and his face lit up with every new discovery as though life was filled with wonder everywhere he looked. I remember that light and I remember it dimming.
Every time we had tried to mold Kíli into a more proper dwarven princeling, every time we had shot down another of his dreams, his smile had grown a little fainter and suddenly I realize that my brother had not been happy. He had not been happy for years and it was only the hobbit who put that joy back in his eyes.
Somehow I had never noticed this before. I had been blind to it, blind to his pain because I assumed that as long as Kíli's life fit my image of what it should be then everything must be fine. So I hadn't lost my brother to the hobbit, not really, because I had never really known him, not since he was a child tugging at my feet.
The fear that filled me when Kíli first said that he'd choose Bilbo was the truth of the matter after all; the brother I thought I knew was only an illusion, a facade that he created to make my family proud and all of us believed it without question. We failed to see beneath the surface but we were killing Kíli slowly and as soon as he saw his chance he ran for freedom.
Can I really blame him? Can I blame him for rejecting me, for rejecting our family when we'd been making him miserable all his life?
I had driven off any friends that I thought weren't proper, which was nearly all of them. I had claimed I was protecting him even as I broke his heart and I had been wishing him misery for years in the hope that he'd return to me and act his part again. In truth, I had tried to shape him in my image as though he were nothing more than iron to be molded and discarded when it did not meet my needs. The thought of someone treating Freyda like that makes me burn with fury and I know that I would kill anyone who tried to break her spirit like we had broken Kíli's, no matter what excuse they tried to give.
Watching Helva with our daughter, I realize that there truly is a difference between protecting someone when necessary and stifling their spirit. There was a difference between teaching Kíli how to act as a prince when required and turning his status into a prison on his soul by eternally denying him the chance to be himself and this was a difference that I had failed to recognize.
I see this same knowledge in my mother's eyes and I finally understand what she meant when she had confessed to me her failures. I finally realize that she was right.
Yet it takes me time to come to grips with this new revelation, time to accept the gravity of my mistake and so for many years I do nothing to correct it. Though I finally give my brother's pendants to his nieces, I am a coward in my heart and I do not tell my daughters the true source of their gifts. I cannot bear to answer the questions they would ask and I am terrified that Kíli will not forgive me for the damage I have done. Why would he forgive me when I cannot forgive myself?
In fact, I would probably never have done anything, would have left our relationships to lie in ruins and regret if Helva had not tired of my brooding and knocked some sense into my head. She looks at me one evening as we ready ourselves to sleep and asks simply, "Do you want your children to ever meet their uncle?"
"What? Of course I do."
"Then stop pretending that you don't have a brother and repair your relationship already. He's hardly going to forgive you if you never even ask and I'd rather you work this out while I'm still young enough to travel." While a master of diplomacy, my dear wife has never been one to spare hard truths or shy from bluntness when it matters. Though it only occurs to me later that I had never told her about Kíli either and I wonder how she knew.
So the next time that Bofur sneaks out on one of his clandestine visits to the Shire in the name of “exploring new trading partners,” I send a letter along with him and ask him to place it in my brother's hands. It is a short message, only two lines but I poured all of my regret into the words.
I am sorry, Kíli, sorry for everything. I hope one day you will forgive the wrong I've done you and allow me the honor of introducing my family to yours.
It is over twenty years before I see my brother again, although letters pass frequently between us and I finally tell my children the truth about their uncle. After my initial overture of peace, it takes some time for him to trust my motives and it pains my heart that Kíli's suspicion is so justified. However, even after we finally agree that we want to meet again, life keeps getting in the way.
First, there are the problems of time and distance since a king can rarely afford to spend months away from his duties and it is a long and dangerous trip for any number of travelers. Yet these alone could have been overcome if not for all the other matters. Disputes between two of the major mining clans in Erebor tie my hands for months and then Kíli and Bilbo adopt the hobbit's newly orphaned cousin, whom they can hardly take on such a journey.
I would have brought my family to Hobbiton instead, but then Balin, Ori and a number of my people get it into their heads that now is the perfect time to reclaim Khazad-dûm. The expedition is well within their rights and I do not begrudge them the wish to reopen those fabled halls, but it means that I am left with a hole in my advisers and no one whom I trust to rule Erebor in my stead.
While Jilí could handle things with Helva there to advise him, I do not think I could handle the reunion without the support of my wife at my side. Balin and Ori at least had apprentices, but it will be ages before their replacements come close to their skill in managing difficult political situations and so I do not dare to leave.
So it is and so it goes. A food shortage on one hand, a crisis in the iron quality on the other, the Master of Laketown goes mad and runs into the woods and there are a thousand other problems laid upon my shoulders. By the time that I can breathe again, Bilbo has grown old and Kíli does not wish to risk the trip with only the two of them and Frodo, so we resign ourselves to correspondence once again.
However, in 3001 Frodo finally comes of age and Kíli tells me that Bilbo wants to go on one last great adventure. They leave Bag End and all that it contains to the young hobbit and set off for Rivendell while I take a company of guards to meet them there and bring them home. Though I still wish that Helva could have come, the years have mellowed my fears slightly and the thought of our reunion no longer fills me with such dread.
Seeing my brother again destroys any doubts that I still carried, because the joy on his face is indescribable. Physically Kíli has matured since the days of our quest, though he still lacks a proper beard, and his expression is freer than I have ever seen before, as though a great burden has been lifted from his mind. He grins at me, wide and open, and I think that this is the real version of my brother, this is the one I've come to know in writing and finally get to meet. I hug him tightly and release him reluctantly before turning to greet the hobbit at his side.
Looking at Bilbo is a shock for age has wreaked havoc on the companion I remember, though Kíli tells me that he looks quite spry for a halfling of his years. There is a shadow in my brother's eyes at the knowledge that his time is waning, but it is far weaker than the love that still lights his face whenever Bilbo looks his way.
On the return journey I take the time to try and get to know the hobbit properly and while I do not think we will ever be dear friends, we like each other well enough. I learn to see some of what my brother does: Bilbo's wit and spirit, his compassion and his skill at the crafts he chose to master, and now that I am not trying to sabotage their relationship at every other turn, the halfling finds traits to admire in me as well. Our trip is long and tiring but everything is worth it when the mountain rises before us and I can finally introduce Kíli to my wife and children.
Helva greets my brother warmly and then takes charge of the weary hobbit while my children stare in awe at their storied uncle. Kíli has them at ease quickly with that skill he has, and they chat happily about their interests and their cares. My brother is kind to Jilí who is in that awkward stage between dwarfling and adulthood where he takes himself too seriously and yet not seriously enough and he listens with interest when Frísa tells him about her new tapestry.
But it is Freyda who finds a kindred spirit as I always knew she would, and her eyes light up at the confirmation that there is nothing wrong with her for dreaming while Kíli regales them with tales of his undwarvish life.
She quickly explains her current obsession- finding a way to steal Thranduil's giant elk steed and riding to his palace, and when Kíli grins at me over her shoulder I just shrug and sigh. I am hoping that she outgrows this one, but if not I will enjoy the look on the elf king's face because Freyda's crazy schemes always manage to succeed.
Soon the two have adapted easily to life in Erebor, marveling at the changes and reuniting with old friends. The remaining members of our company greet them joyously and will hear no word against them while Bard sweeps my brother into an enormous hug and challenges him to a competition, though now old himself. There are some who look down on Kíli for his choices but they are fewer than I feared, and my brother soon has them eating their words for no one can stand against his charm for long.
Thus pass many years in light and happiness but eventually they start to speak of going home. Bilbo is fading now so Kíli wants to make the journey back to the Shire while the two still can, and though my heart grieves for him, my brother is surprisingly content.
"I've known this was coming from the beginning, Fíli. I've had time to make my peace and I do not regret the life we've had. Now help me find that wild daughter of yours so I can say a proper goodbye."
The whole family and half the kingdom come to see them off, for they made many friends while they were here and we are sad to see them go. However, Elrond of Rivendell has also called a council, so I am sending my delegation with them; Gimli and the others will keep them safe upon the road. I watch them until they disappear and if my eyes grow damp then I am not the only one.
War comes and the world darkens but the knowledge that I reconciled with my brother lets me face the night without regrets. Though this helps little when the Easterlings attack, pouring down in a bloody tide from the mountains in the North, and the savages fall upon Dale without warning or mercy in their blades. So it is a fell morning in which the great horns of the city sound the alarm and my army marches to its aid, but our enemies are too many to drive back and all I can do is gather the survivors to retreat back within the mountain.
The siege which follows is long and arduous and drags on for many months because while the Easterlings cannot break through the gates of Erebor, they also refuse to go back whence they came. Watching them sack Dale without reprisal is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and I politely ignore the tears streaming down Brand's face.
Dale's new king is the image of his father, right down to the bow he carries, and I know he loves his city as much as I love the Lonely Mountain. So I remind him that we can rebuild it once again and there is never a shortage of willing men to stand on the battlements and rain death down upon our foes.
Eventually even as our spirits suffer and our food stores begin to empty, there is word that the great hosts of Sauron have been defeated in the South; that the kingdoms of men have triumphed and his evil power has been forever broken. At this news we gain new heart while our besiegers' courage breaks and when they flee we march out to cut their armies down.
With Sauron's death there is peace and rebuilding and this time I leave Dale's defenses in the hands of my greatest craftsmen so that such tragedy can never strike again. These times of peace also mean that when I receive word from my brother I am able to leave Erebor in the capable hands of my wife, my heir and my advisers and ride at speed with Freyda back to Rivendell.
The elves have offered Bilbo a place on the last ship leaving Middle Earth for the Undying Lands and I am going with him.
This is what Kíli's message said and when we arrive we find my brother and his hobbit, now white and frail, preparing for one final adventure together.
My brother greets me with a hug and smile and then says simply, "I am glad that you could make it brother. I wanted to say goodbye." My eyes fill with tears then for I know I will not see Kíli again, not in this lifetime, and yet I also know that I cannot ask for him to stay.
Freyda too is devastated because she dearly loves her uncle and he is one of the few examples that she has of another wayward soul. But when my daughter clutches him tight and asks why he has to leave, Kíli just smiles at her sadly as he wipes a tear from her cheek.
"He is my heart, how could I let him go without me? You will understand one day and I am only sorry that I will not be there to see it." He gives Freyda his bow then, the one he carved himself so long ago, and she clutches it tight when she promises to remember him forever.
It is a bittersweet sight to watch my brother ride away from me once more and a piece of my heart will go with him as he sails across the sea. However, I cannot leave my family any more than Kíli could leave his and now that we have reconciled, I have faith that our spirits will meet again someday in Mahal's hands.
To Kíli's story: The Other Side of the Coin - Part I: Secrets