Rating/Warnings: Fluff, fluff and fluff; plus some gamblingWord Count: 3427
Disclaimer: If I owned the Hobbit, it would be even more ridiculous.
Summary: 5 Times Fíli and Kíli bet on Bilbo's decisions and 1 time they just asked.
Kíli had always had a weakness for wagers, as did most members of his race. It was a failing of dwarves, something in their blood that made them long for challenge, and the archer was always willing to risk a few coins against the chance for gloating rights.
So when the wait for their burglar began to drag on and Nori proposed a small bet on whether Mr. Baggins would decide to join them, it was hardly surprising that the entire company joined in. All but Thorin, who simply looked on in disapproval while his fellows chose their sides. But nearly everyone seemed to think that the hobbit would give in to cowardice and as the bets began to stack against him, Kíli decided that this wasn't fair at all.
“I say we'll get our burglar,” The dwarf declared, tossing his gold on the pile. It was as much to even the scales as to annoy his uncle; as much to needle his brother as because he thought he'd win.
However, once the words were spoken, the young archer discovered that he truly believed them, even if the rest of the company looked at him like he was mad. Sure Bilbo had been plump and comfortable, obviously settled in his home and his ways, but Kíli was sure he'd seen a hint of interest hidden behind the hobbit's nervous grin.
And despite the way that Fíli was laughing at him, his wager had nothing to do with how much he wanted to pinch those chubby cheeks.
Just because I think Bilbo's adorable doesn't mean that I'm wrong, the archer huffed, crossing his arms defensively. He might have spoken without thinking and he might be about to lose a great deal of money, but he stood by his statement nonetheless.
Though Fíli just smirked when Kíli growled at him behind their uncle's back, the elder dwarf well aware of his brother's little crush. The archer always acted like an idiot when he thought someone was attractive, grinning foolishly and tripping over every twist of the tongue. So in truth this wager was simply another sign of the other's addled thinking and Fíli wasn't above making some money off of Kíli's craziness. After all, he's the one who would have to comfort his little brother when the archer's heart was broken and a bit of gold might help to ease the pain.
However, long after Thorin ran out of patience and ordered the company to begin their journey, Kíli refused to believe that the bet was over, his stubborn optimism convincing several of the other dwarves to throw in on his side. The archer's eyes were just so huge and hopeful that standing against him felt like attacking a puppy and no one else shared in Thorin and Fíli's long-suffering immunity.
Though Bofur, Óin and Ori were rather glad of their weakness when they turned to see Mr. Baggins running toward them with his contract trailing in the wind. But no one was happier than Kíli, who grinned smugly at his brother as they lifted the hobbit onto a pony of his own.
I knew he had an adventurous streak, the young dwarf crowed silently before reminding Nori that he was owed a major share. However, the sweet smile which Bilbo sent him was worth far more than any sack of coins and Kíli knew he must blushing scarlet by the way his brother laughed.
The archer's crush only grew stronger with every league they traveled and Fíli's teasing was utterly merciless. Indeed the dwarf gave his brother so much grief when they were supposed to be watching the ponies one evening that the two dwarves didn't even notice when the first pair disappeared.
Truthfully, it was only after Kíli looked over and wondered, “Didn't there used to be a tree there?” that the brothers realized something had gone wrong.
Though before they could do anything about it, Bilbo arrived with their dinner and together the trio soon discovered trolls were the ones to blame. Three ugly mountain trolls had stolen their ponies and somehow their burglar got volunteered to steal them back. Honestly, the hobbit really wasn't sure why he was suddenly sneaking toward the monsters, but he was pretty sure that everything was Fíli's fault.
Kíli quite agreed with this assessment, sending his brother a pointed glare after he sent Bilbo on his way. But Fíli simply replied with an innocent smile, privately thinking that this was their chance to test the burglar's skills.
If he was truly as talented as the wizard claimed then this task should be easy and the company would have their ponies back before Thorin learned that anything was wrong. But while this would be ideal, Fíli was a realist and so he decided to make a back up plan.
“I'll bet you my next five midnight watches that your hobbit gets caught,” the dwarf whispered, leaning over to his brother with a grin. It might have been a bit frivolous of him to be making bets right now, but if Bilbo screwed up in his attempt, Kíli was bound to run to the rescue before things got out of hand.
“You're on,” Kíli whispered back hotly, always ready to defend their burglar whether justified or not. Though luck was with the archer despite his foolishness because Mr. Baggins was quite light on his feet and the trolls were hardly on their guard. So for several nail-biting minutes it seemed as though the hobbit would succeed, until one of the monsters used Bilbo as a handkerchief and Fíli had to fight the urge to giggle as he shouted, “Hah! I win.”
Of course his brother refused to accept the truth before his eyes, stubbornly insisting that their burglar wasn't done for yet. Indeed, the pair debated the issue fiercely while Bilbo led the trolls on a merry little chase, lasting long enough that Fíli started to think his brother might be right.
But then Bilbo zigged when he should have zagged and the elder dwarf interrupted Kíli's ranting to ask, “Shouldn't you go rescue your precious hobbit now?”
“Aaah, crap!” The archer shouted, grabbing for his sword as he ran into the clearing and Fíli turned to run the other way. Because as much as he would have loved to watch Kíli save his damsel, someone had to tell the company about what was happening.
Still, the dwarf saw enough to know that it would have been adorable and his brother certainly looked proud when he snatched Bilbo from the air.
Even if the hobbit's fall was stopped by Kíli's face.
Rivendell was a bit too elvish for the young dwarf to feel comfortable but he had to admit that they made some damn good wine. The archer was already feeling tipsy after only a handful of glasses and the rest of the company wasn't much better off.
In truth, Dwalin and Bilbo were the only ones who still looked remotely sober, something which made Fíli lean over and whisper drunkenly, “That hobbit of yours has some stamina after all. Shall we make things more interesting?”
“Hmm?” Kíli responded fuzzily. “What did you have in mind?”
“Let our burglar and Mister Dwalin have a proper drinking contest and we'll see who's better in the end. I'll wager you one of my daggers against a set of wooden beads that Bilbo takes our warrior down.”
“Why do you get Bilbo? I want Bilbo.” The archer protested with a whine.
“You certainly do,” Fíli responded, smirking darkly when his brother flushed. “But tonight I'll flip you for him.”
Kíli agreed readily enough, too drunk to remember that he always lost these things. Indeed that's exactly what happened when Fíli pulled a coin from his pocket and tossed it into the air.
So with this decided, the dwarves informed the rest of the company about their brilliant idea and it didn't take long to convince the rest to watch. Because dwarves would take any excuse to have a competition and although Bilbo protested at first, he gave in quickly beneath Kíli's pleading eyes.
Even a few elves could be seen gawking from the shadows when Dwalin and their burglar went head to head, knocking back their drinks as fast as Bombur could pour them out. After seven more bottles, their cheeks were finally looking rosy, after fourteen Dwalin started slurring, and after twenty neither of the contestants were sitting quite upright.
None of them were seeing as the other members of the company hadn't stopped drinking either, but Fíli was feeling rather good about his chances since Bilbo still appeared to be the most sober of the lot. Indeed, the two competitors had just reached thirty bottles when Dwalin started swaying, the warrior slipping from his chair seconds later to pass out on the ground.
His win again, though Kíli seemed to have forgotten that they even had a wager in his drunken stupor, staring up at Bilbo with stars in his eyes.
“That was amazing,” the archer slurred to his brother before staggering over to congratulate their burglar on his victory. But the moment the archer threw an arm around Bilbo's shoulders, the hobbit toppled off his chair as well. So the pair went down in a tangle of flailing limbs and when Fíli ran to check on them, the burglar was snoring softly with Kíli sprawled out on his chest. But his brother seemed pretty comfortable despite the awkward landing, burrowing his head into the crook of Bilbo's neck before sleep took him as well.
“Maybe I'll just call this one a draw,” the elder dwarf muttered, staring down at Kíli's blissful face for a long moment and then stumbling off to find a corner of his own.
Sadly there wasn't time for any more such frivolity after their company entered the Misty Mountains, for those peaks were a harsher mistress than any the dwarves had known. It was cold and wet and exhausting and even the strongest members of their company started to feel the strain.
Which still doesn't justify the way that uncle keeps chewing Bilbo out, Kíli thought as he huddled miserably against his brother's side. It's not his fault that hobbits aren't built for these rough conditions and he complains less than half the others here. Certainly less than Balin when he goes off about the strain on his old bones.
Indeed the archer would often walk with Bilbo when he needed his spirits raised, for the hobbit could always be counted on to spin a tale or two. Though if one believed Fíli's teasing, this was more about the way that his heart fluttered around their burglar than anything else and the dwarf couldn't exactly deny the truth of this.
However, while Thorin liked to remind his nephews that their journey was a very serious matter, Kíli refused to believe they couldn't have any fun at all. Really, his uncle needed to lighten up before his endless disapproval drove their friend back to the Shire, a thought which was too horrible to bear. But the dwarf had to recognize the possibility after their company was nearly crushed by stone giants, because he had never seen the hobbit looked so betrayed before.
The archer knew that his uncle was only worried, the emotion sounding much like anger to those who didn't know him well, but what else was Bilbo supposed to think when Thorin called him a burden and told him he should flee?
Kíli would hardly have followed someone who treated him like that so how could he expect their hobbit to be different? It's not as though he'd stay for me. However, when the archer slumped down next to his brother with a dejected sigh, Fíli was quick to reassure him that Bilbo wouldn't leave.
“Even if his heart is troubled by our uncle's words, he should know that not all of us agree. Besides, Rivendell is leagues behind us now and Bilbo won't want to make the trip alone.” The elder promised, hoping that Kíli couldn't tell how unsure he really was. Though his voice must have trembled slightly for the archer didn't seem convinced and Fíli refused to see such brokenhearted uncertainty in his brother's eyes when the object of his affections lay not a yard away. So he upped the stakes instead.
“Kíli, relax. I'll wager my favorite whetstone against your wrist cuff that Bilbo will stay with us through the Misty mountains; that's how sure I am. So will you stop worrying and just go to sleep?”
This offer finally did the trick because his brother knew that Fíli never bet on anything he wasn't confident of winning. So Kíli settled down just as he asked and neither of the princes were awake when their burglar began to pack. Though if they had been, Fíli would have pledged his eternal gratitude to Bofur for delaying Bilbo until the goblins came because the expression on Kíli's face when Bilbo turned up missing was something that Fíli never wished to see again.
He looked absolutely wretched and he didn't feel much better, unable to stop himself from spinning around wildly in the hope that their hobbit might appear. For what was winning a wager compared to the loss of his burglar? Particularly when Kíli didn't even like Fíli's whetstone that much anyway.
But then the hobbit appeared as if by magic, his gaze searching out the youngest dwarf while he shot down Thorin's suspicions once and for all. Bilbo's eyes were warm and caring as he spoke of helping the dwarves reclaim their homeland and with every passionate word the archer felt his heart swell within his chest. So Kíli didn't bother to argue with his brother about whether that bet was even valid, just unlaced his cuff and handed it over without complaint.
He had his sights set on a much better prize.
Of course, so did their enemies and in the chaos which followed, Kíli could hardly believe that he made it through the night. Only instinct kept the dwarf moving when terror would have brought him down, only instinct allowed him to fight bravely when the hobbit saved his uncle's life. But the fire in his veins had to die eventually and once they had been rescued, Kíli's knees went weak with fear.
Indeed the dwarf clutched the feathers of his eagle tightly as he trembled in reaction and Fíli was in little better shape at his side. But his older brother had never been one to show his weaknesses and so after a few minutes, the dwarf spoke up shakily. “Your hobbit certainly has some spunk to him, I'll give you that. How long do you think he'll make Thorin grovel before he accepts an apology? A day, a week, a year?”
This familiar banter helped to ground the archer, anchoring him in the present until he was strong enough to reply with a weak chuckle of his own. “Oh come on, Fíli You know Bilbo's far too nice for that. He'll probably say something stupidly self-deprecating and let our uncle off the hook entirely.”
He couldn't help but smile fondly at the thought, for while he privately believed that Thorin deserved to stew a bit, Bilbo's modesty was just so adorable. The hobbit would probably blush and stutter awkwardly beneath whatever praise he gathered and Kíli zoned out for awhile as he imagined the scene.
Until Fíli nudged him from his drooling contemplation, knocking into the archer's shoulder with a grin. “Then put your wager where your mouth is little brother and maybe you'll actually manage to win this time. Though if your past luck is any indication, I'll soon be wearing your other cuff as well.”
Kíli could hardly back down from a challenge like that and the two dwarves sealed their bargain just as the convocation of eagles started to descend. Though at first their worry about Thorin took precedence over their wager and the lads were quick to help him to his feet. But when their uncle recovered enough to ask after Bilbo, Fíli and Kíli stepped back, waiting with bated breath to see who would win this time.
However, the brothers traded identical glances of disbelief when he began tearing into their burglar instead of thanking him, jointly deciding that they would not stand for this. Though before his nephews had the chance to do anything drastic, Thorin changed his tune completely, finally giving their hobbit the praise that he deserved.
From there events unfolded just like Kíli had predicted, his smile beaming wide as Bilbo patted their uncle on the arm awkwardly. How could he not smile at the sight before him and finally beating his brother was certainly silver in the vein. But that was nothing compared to their company's survival and a feeling much like love for this brave and humble creature who had made it possible. Not that this would stop Kíli from claiming his brother's braid ornaments as his reward, asking Fíli to help him manage the proper courting plait.
Because now that their burglar had been accepted by his uncle, no one could object when the archer made his intentions known. In fact, Kíli planned to tell the hobbit what was in his heart as soon as he found the courage to actually speak to him.
“Do you really think he likes me?” The dwarf asked his brother, staring over at Bilbo with yearning in his eyes. Because his determination to plight his troth had faltered in the face of the other's smile, his words lost to awkward stuttering. So now Kíli was watching their burglar as he sat next to Beorn's fire and Fíli was getting rather sick of it.
“Well he certainly didn't come back for uncle,” His brother told him, an exasperated edge to the words. “And you're never going to find out what he thinks if you stay over here all night.”
So he shoved Kíli forward, the archer making it halfway across the room before he balked again. “I can't!” The younger dwarf whispered, staring back at Fíli plaintively. “What if he says no? Everything would be so awkward and uncle might start hating him again.”
“Look, I know you've propositioned scarier people before because I talked you into half of them. Remember that woman back in Bree? The one with the shears?”
“Don't remind me,” Kíli replied, flinching helplessly. “I never knew anyone could yell so loud. But I like Bilbo so it's different. It's not just a wager now.”
“Maybe it should be if that would make you tell him how you feel,” Fíli answered and even though he was being sarcastic, his brother looked up hopefully. That expression was far too familiar and the dwarf knew that Kíli was about to offer some earnest plea, one that even his long practice could not resist. So before the archer could open his mouth, Fíli cut him off.
“No. Just, no. I've done a lot of ridiculous things for you, but I won't do that. Not when I can simply do this instead.” He grabbed his brother's arm in an iron grip and pulled him across the room to stand in front of their burglar once more.
“Bilbo?” Fíli said, holding the other tight as he squirmed to get free. “If Kíli here asked to court you, what would be your reply?”
“Hypothetically, huh?” The hobbit responded with an amused smile even as the archer froze in terror. “Well I suppose I would have to kiss him, wouldn't I, since that's how we accept such requests in the Shire. Assuming, of course, that he does ask.”
Bilbo looked up at Kíli expectantly and this finally galvanized the young dwarf into motion, the archer lurching forward to stutter out his plea. But thankfully their burglar seemed to enjoy his brother's awkwardness and Fíli watched smugly as the hobbit did exactly as he'd said. Soon the two of them were so wrapped up in each other that they didn't even notice when the older dwarf slipped away to let them kiss in semi-privacy.
He would win his beads back soon enough because Kíli never could resist a hopeless wager, but for now his work was done.