Title: Of Axes and Arrows
Word Count: 3709
Disclaimer: You really think I own this?
Summary: Kíli becomes friends with Elladan, Elrohir, and Legolas while in Rivendell and mischief ensues
Kíli is bored. Mind-numbingly, beard-scratchingly bored.
This is of course why he's sneaking out of the dwarves' Rivendell camp, tip-toeing carefully over Bifur's snoring form. As he reaches the edge of the courtyard, the dwarf looks back cautiously, checking that the remainder of the company is still asleep. He nods to himself, thankful that Gandalf had convinced Thorin not to set a watch, for now he can be sure that his departure is undetected. Time to explore, he thinks gleefully, then slips into the shadowed halls of Rivendell.
The night is still and quiet, and with all serene around him Kíli finds that he cannot fathom his uncle's stubborn suspicion of their hosts. Yes elves betrayed his people, he's heard that story many times, but that was long ago and it was not these elves. These elves have been nothing but welcoming, Elrond granting food and shelter with only the slightest condescending air. And frankly, Kíli is bored. Bored enough that the thought of exploration far outweighs the threat of his uncle's displeasure, and if there's threat hidden in the shadows, he'll find out soon enough.
But it seems that there's no threat to find, for the young dwarf treads softly through Rivendell's halls and sees nothing but an alien beauty. This is not the artistry of the dwarves, rooted deep in the enduring craftsmanship of earth and stone. Instead it is an artistry of nature, with buildings shaped around the simple bends of living trees and streams, and high airy ceilings meant to recreate the sky. Kíli marvels as he walks, entranced by the carvings, the tapestry and glass and finally by a statue that holds a single broken sword. At the sight of Narsil, the famous blade of Elendil, Kíli turns to whisper to his brother in delight. But then he remembers that he left Fíli sleeping, too near their uncle to risk waking tonight. However, Kíli barely has time to miss the familiar presence at his side before his attention is caught by a noise from the dark. Is that laughter? he wonders curiously, trailing the sound out of the building and into the trees. I didn't think anyone else would be awake.
Kíli follows the noise onward, finding that it is indeed laughter and much of it as well. It is accompanied by a musical chatter he recognizes as elvish, though does not understand. Sounds like at least two, maybe three. Wonder what they're doing out here? he thinks as he walks deeper into the forest. Eventually, Kíli comes to a stop at the edge of a small clearing from which shines a soft, white light. Concealing himself behind one of the trees, the dwarf peers into the grove, looking for the source of the voices.
He is not expecting what he sees.
Inside the clearing are three elves, as ageless as all their people but Kíli judges them youths by their manner and dress. For two of them, dark-haired and nearly identical, lay sprawled carelessly on the ground, chatting easily and holding flasks in their hands. The third, as fair as his fellows are dark, stands unsteadily before them with his clothes rumpled and hair in disarray. Three more flasks lay empty at his feet and he sways unsteadily as he carries on in elvish, waving his arms with every other word. Though Kíli cannot understand him, he recognizes the tone and the body language for Fíli too is an opinionated drunk. Maybe it's a blond thing? he wonders and the similarity makes him laugh.
Though quiet, Kíli's chuckle reverberates against the trees and he ducks back quickly as the elves turn to look.
"Is someone there?" the twins ask in unison, switching to Westron as they peer intensely into the forest. They quickly attempt to put on a proper mask of elvish serenity, straightening their clothes and hiding their flasks behind their backs. But this is ruined by the blond behind them, who sways, trips, and falls giggling to the ground.
"Lindir, is that you? We were just, uh-"
"showing Legolas around. He wanted to see the trees and-"
"the stars, really." They chatter on, explanations growing ever more elaborate, until Kíli takes pity on them and steps into view.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. I was just looking around." He explains hesitantly, standing on the edge of the trees.
"Oh, it's a dwarf-"
"and a young one, we thought you might be-"
"Lindir. Father's steward wouldn't approve of us-"
"corrupting dear sweet Legolas here." The twins explain cheerfully, waving a hand toward their incoherent friend. "Of course, I doubt he'd approve-"
"of a dwarf either. But what he doesn't know won't hurt him-"
"will it? So you can join us-"
"if you like." They smile at Kíli and make encouraging gestures in his direction until he walks forward and joins them on the grass.
"So what are you doing out here?" One twin asks, "Lindir always says dwarves hate us, and the way father talks I thought you'd all be holed up with weapons at the ready. Just in case we terribly dangerous elves try something nasty."
Kíli shrugs. "Uncle wanted to. And some of the others too. But I don't know, I've never been very good at hating people, especially ones I've never met. And I was curious."
"Sensible of you." The elf nods in response. "I'm Elladan, by the way, and this is my brother Elrohir. The giggling wreck over there is Legolas."
"He's had a bit too much to drink tonight or he'd introduce himself-"
"Mirkwood elves have no tolerance, you know."
"Nice to meet you all. I'm Kíli, at your service" he says, liking these elves more and more. "What are you drinking anyway?"
"Only father's best Firewine, of course."
"Care to try some?" Elrohir asks, offering his flask. Kíli takes it cautiously, sniffing the liquid inside before tossing some back. The drink burns as he swallows it, leaving a trail of fire in its wake and he chokes, spluttering.
"Strong stuff that." Kíli coughs, handing back the flask as the twins laugh genially. I guess elves are pretty sturdy after all. That stuff would strip iron from the rock.
"We take our vices seriously-"
"and we have time to do them right. What do dwarves do for fun anyway?"
From then on the conversation flows easily as they trade stories and flasks back and forth. Kíli finds his head reeling after only the third sip so he sticks mostly to talking, regaling the others with stories of his home. He has just finished the long and rambling tale of how he and Fíli accidentally dyed Thorin's beard a brilliant blue, when Legolas finally stirs from his stupor.
"You all right there?" Kíli asks, reaching out to steady the blond who stares at him with bleary eyes. Legolas nods vaguely and attempts to stand but fails, flailing wildly as he tumbles into Kíli's lap. Though the elf is light for his size, the collision still draws an oof from the dwarf that sends the twins into desperate peals of laughter. As Kíli stares down at him in consternation, Legolas reaches up and pokes him in the chin, before asking plaintively,
"But what happened to your beard? Father always said dwarves had magnificent beards." This sets the twins off again and Kíli blushes deeply before defending himself.
"Am too a proper dwarf. You'll see, after we get our mountain back I'll grow an amazing beard. Or maybe not, because I need it short for my bow, to shoot the arrows. Otherwise it gets messy with feathers and hair flying everywhere. But I could grow a beard, if I wanted to." Kíli grumbles drunkenly.
"Arrows!" Legolas bolts upright, missing Kíli's chin by the narrowest of margins. "I love arrows because I'm an archer too. Can I see your bow? I wanna see your bow." The elf grins hazily at him before leaning in close and whispering confidentially, "And I think you're a very nice dwarf, beard or no." Kíli blushes deeper and stares at him, dumbfounded, until Elladan gets himself under control.
"He's right you know, you should show us-"
"your bow. We can go to the archery range and have a competition to compare our skills. Leggy here's quite good-"
"when he's sober and I didn't know there were any dwarf archers, so-"
"it'd be fun, really, to see how you shoot." Elrohir finishes, staring at Kíli intently, obviously willing him to agree. He's hesitant at first, because his archery has long been a sore point at home- undwarflike they say- but at their honest curiosity he finds himself giving in.
"All right" Kíli agrees, "We can do it. But not tonight, I couldn't hit anything right now. And I should probably go soon, before I'm missed."
"Tomorrow then," Elladan says firmly, nodding his head.
"But maybe in the afternoon," Elrohir adds, looking fondly at Legolas where he's draped across the dwarf. "Meet us in the front hall after the midday meal?"
"That should work" Kíli begins untangling himself, pushing the blond elf upright and removing his arms. "As long as I can get away. I'll bring my brother along so he can show you how a dwarf throws axes as well." He hands Legolas off to Elladan and then waves goodbye, stumbling back the way he came. Before long he finds himself again in the company's courtyard, slipping carefully to his bedroll on unsteady feet. When the dwarf reaches it, he drops down gratefully before checking again that Thorin hasn't stirred. Satisfied with what he sees, Kíli curls up in his cloak and lets the darkness take him.
He wakes late the next morning, groaning sluggishly as something nudges him in the side. Kíli grumbles and tries to curl deeper into his cloak but the nudge comes again and again until he finally rolls over and pries open his eyes.
"Did you have a good night?" Fíli grins down at him, looking far too perky in the face of his brother's misery.
"As a matter of fact, I did," Kíli retorts, glaring up at him. "Though the morning after sucks," he admits when he finally manages to sit up, squinting against the agony of light. Mahal's beard, my head. Remind me never to challenge an elf to a drinking contest.
"Where's everyone else?" He asks as he looks around the courtyard.
"You slept through breakfast so they're out and about. Most are resupplying and fixing up their gear since uncle wants to leave as soon as possible. But Gandalf said this morning that Lord Elrond won't be able to read our map for some days yet, something about the phases of the moon, so they were arguing again." Fíli explains as he helps his brother to his feet. "I hope whatever you got up to last night was worth uncle's disapproval. He wasn't pleased when you refused to wake."
"It was," Kíli reassures him, slapping his brother on the shoulder. "Which reminds me, come to the front hall after lunch and bring your throwing axes, yeah? I've got some folks I want you to meet."
All right," Fíli agrees bemusedly. "But best take a bath first, brother, you smell foul."
Kíli takes this advice to heart and after a wash and a change of clothes he almost feels alive again. He spends the rest of the morning checking and cleaning his equipment so as to avoid enraging his uncle any further, and indeed Thorin's face softens somewhat when everyone returns for lunch to find Kíli working industriously. Once the company has eaten, Kíli returns to grab his bow and heads quickly toward the large front hall.
When he arrives, Elladan, Elrohir and Legolas are already waiting, looking fresh and bright-eyed in a way that is entirely unfair.
Upon seeing Kíli, Legolas calls out cheerfully, "Master dwarf, you're looking rather good for someone who had his first taste of Firewine last night. It always puts humans down for days."
"Dwarves are made of sterner stuff than that." Kíli laughs in response. "And you're one to talk, master elf. I'm surprised you're even awake given the state you were in."
Legolas just shrugs, ""I'm an elf, we recover fast. Sorry about all the, ah, poking though." He adds, looking away and blushing slightly.
"Don't worry about it. I'm sure I've done worse." A snort of agreement from behind him makes Kíli turn. "Fíli, there you are. Come over here and meet my new friends." Kíli can tell his brother is somewhat wary of the elves, always the responsible one, but Fíli does as asked nonetheless.
"These are Elrond's sons, Elladan and Elrohir," He tells him, slinging an arm around his shoulders. "And that's Legolas, of Mirkwood." At the last Fíli shoots him a look, clearly saying, 'Mirkwood? Uncle won't like that.' Kíli just raises his eyebrows in response. 'Well we just won't tell him about that will we? It'll be fine.' Shrugging his agreement, Fíli greets the elves who then lead the group to the valley's practice range.
The archery range is tucked carefully into a forest clearing in the manner of all the elvish creations, but the targets are many and the distance is fair so before long they begin a friendly competition. Elladan and Elrohir shoot first and though they are skilled enough their interests obviously lie in other areas, and Kíli dares to hope that he will not be terribly outmatched. Indeed, the twins are quick to abandon their bows as soon as Fíli demonstrates his talents, axe blades spinning a siren song of steel as they slam into the target. So really their competition ends before it begins, devolving into an impromptu lesson in axe throwing for Elrond's curious children.
In contrast, Legolas is a thing of beauty with a bow in his hand, deadly, sleek and incredibly skilled. Each draw is swift and sure, each arrow held perfectly steady and each shot flies with an impossible accuracy that Kíli cannot hope to surpass. But Legolas is so genuine in his appreciation of the dwarf bow Kíli carries and so honestly helpful in his desire to improve his hard-won skills that the dwarf cannot even be jealous.
Thus instead of anger and humiliation, the afternoon is wiled away in tips and tricks and practice, jokes and lessons learned. And by the time they part, Kíli and Legolas are fast friends, having bonded over their shared experiences as archers, younger brothers, and defiers of expectation. Fíli has relaxed as well, the twins admiration for his axes and quick-witted banter overcoming his initial reticence. So it's with a light heart that Kíli nudges his brother as they walk back to their camp, a grin and raised eyebrow asking, 'I told you it was worth it, didn't I?'
'Yeah, yeah. You were right this time,' Fíli rolls his eyes in response, before adding with a shake of his head. 'Still not gonna tell uncle though.'
Kíli just laughs. 'Course not, I'm not an idiot.'
The days pass and the company remains in Rivendell as they wait for the moon to be right. Though Thorin becomes increasingly ill-tempered with the delay, Kíli and Fíli are glad of it for these first bonds of friendship grow and strengthen over time. Though there are no more late and drunken nights, this young quintet manages to spend part of each day together, often ending up back at the range. With Legolas' help, Kíli's archery is improving in leaps and bounds and if the twins are slow to learn the secrets of the throwing axe they are at least persistent in their attempts.
But this is far from the only adventure that they find, for Elladan and Elrohir take it upon themselves to show their new friends all the hidden corners of Rivendell.
One of their first stops is Elrond's armory, filled to the brim with the fabled blades and legends of old. A thousand years of history are in that room, but the dwarves spend their time explaining the inferiority of elvish steel to their fascinated audience. They criticize the smithing, the alloy, and the names, and then they exit quickly for the twins goad Kíli into proving it and the treasured spear of Aeglos peals like thunder when it breaks.
Another day they find the stables where the twins become the teachers, waxing poetic about their father's careful breeding. Fíli is entranced by the slender elvish chargers, though Kíli is wary of riding any creature quite so large. Legolas is unsure as well since Mirkwood elves ride elk instead of horses, so the two watch from the sidelines as Fíli tries his hand. And they lean upon each other when their knees fail from laughter after Fíli's horse unseats him in the branches of a tree.
But the best spot is the kitchens, for the dwarves are always hungry and the elves quick to oblige. Rivendell's chefs are easily flattered into cooking fancy dishes so over the days the twins share all their favorites with their friends. And while there is a bit too much greenery for Kíli's tender palate, his pleading eyes soon have the pantry emptied to his taste. The quintet chops and sautés for hours under the dwarf's demanding eye, but all the trouble is worth it for the look on Elrond's face when dinner is the best of home-cooked dwarven fare. Thorin himself has to smile when Fíli hands him a flat pancake, toasted crisp with sauces on the side. For it is cooked just like their mother's and Kíli is filled with pride at the feast his hands have made. There's even kegs of dwarven ale, as Elrohir has a skill with brewing, and it's a merry company that parties long into the night.
So it's a sad day for these young folk when the moon runes are deciphered and the company of Thorin Oakenshield finally prepares to go. At the news, Fíli and Kíli sneak off to find the others in order to say their fond farewells. It is with great distress that the elves learn of their parting for they too have grown attached to their dwarven cohorts, and they promise tearfully to remember all the times they've had.
To aid in this remembrance, Fíli leaves the twins a throwing axe, fine dwarven steel that they can copy for themselves. As long as they are practicing he will never be forgotten, and it will be years yet before they reach his natural skill. In turn Elladan gives a flask of Firewine to make their journey brighter, for nothing else warms as well on chilly mountain nights. While Elrohir dreams of the future when the mountain is reclaimed, and grants them all his favorite recipes to be brewed and drunk by dwarves forever more.
Legolas and Kíli hug each other tightly before they trade their bracers and a single arrow each, promising earnestly to someday meet again. Then, farewells complete, the dwarves rejoin their party and set out once again to meet their fate.
And so it comes to pass that when Thorin Oakenshield and company are captured within Mirkwood, they do not lack for friends in the elf king's gloomy halls.
For Legolas recognizes the weapons over which his father gloats and finds Kíli in the dungeons to offer him his aid. The dwarf is overjoyed to see the elf when Legolas knocks against his cell, and their tearful reunion lasts long into the night.
Thus it is a comfortable captivity that the company finds themselves enjoying, as the elf makes sure their guards are sympathetic and brings them all they need. While the other dwarves are suspicious and Thorin only glares when the prince comes to aid them, Bilbo is an easy sell, his awe of elves not entirely diminished by Thranduil's poor hospitality. So it is Legolas and their burglar who work to find them an escape route, and Legolas who aids him in keeping hope alive.
And for all his suspicion, Thorin finds his worldview shifting when the elf prince of Mirkwood frees him from his cell. For the elf is accompanied by his nephews and speaks to them like brothers and only honest friendship is on his open face.
Legolas leads the company to the cellars and leaves them with the hobbit who finally explains the means of their escape. The dwarves are to take the river, riding barrels to their freedom, and though his pride protests the method, Thorin must admit that the scheme seems sound. His only worry is the absence of the elf prince, for he still cannot truly believe that the elf does not mean them harm.
But as Thorin opens his mouth to question Bilbo on his whereabouts, Legolas returns and stills his biting tongue. For the elf has raided Thranduil's arsenal for their weapons and their armor and won the favor of his company in one fell swoop. Then the dwarves prepare to leave, with Fíli passing out each piece to its rightful owner as they climb into the barrels they will ride. Though Legolas returns Kíli's bow himself, handling it with gentle reverence, and then hugs his dear friends tight as he bids them goodbye.
Finally, only Thorin is left and Legolas hands him Orcrist with a smile and a nod that boggles the dwarf king's mind. He gapes at first, looking down at the blade within his hands, the blade he thought to never see again.
And at that moment Thorin Oakenshield must admit that perhaps the world has changed. Perhaps the future is a brighter place where old hatreds are forgotten and the Kings of Erebor and Mirkwood fight their foes together, axes and arrows side by side.