Series: A Matter of Perspective
Warnings: racism and homophobia
Word Count: 5383
Disclaimer: Like I own this.
Summary: Fíli does not approve of his brother's new infatuation
Part I: Reverie
My brother is making a terrible mistake.
I should have seen the signs from the beginning. I should have recognized the truth in time to put an end to this, but I didn't. I didn't realize what it meant before the damage had been done. But now as I look back, I can see that the symptoms were obvious and I do not know how I missed my brother's folly.
My brother had always been odd, but the real trouble had not started until we were riding to meet our uncle and the others at the very beginning of our quest. Kíli had been excited ever since we had left the Blue Mountains for he'd always wanted to see the outside world. But when we reached the boundaries of the Shire where our burglar would be found, his mood took on a new edge of delight. I assumed it was just the nearness of our journey, for what dwarf would not feel fire in his blood at the thought of retaking Erebor?
How could I have realized then that it was not the thought of the future that enchanted Kíli but the fertile lands that we rode past. He took joy in the rolling hills and winding streams when he should have longed for rock and fire. He was delighted by the cheerful folk in the villages around us, their sturdy houses and lush fields and the lack of worries they had in their simple, easy lives.
I do not know how he could admire it, the weakness of those people in a land without thought of gold or war. Dwarves should yearn for the warm embrace of stone, the shine of metal, the gleam of treasure, and the sound of battle in the air. But I digress.
As we traveled, Kíli's excitement only grew stronger and when we finally arrived at the burglar's door he was strung tight with anticipation. It was a cute house if you liked that sort of thing, with a bright green door set into the hillside, a lush garden around the side, and Bag End written carefully on a hand-carved wooden sign. I could see that we were not the first arrivals for two other ponies were already tied to the garden fence so we quickly dismounted and rang the bell.
Soon after the door opened, and there in the light stood a hobbit.
The hobbit was a short, chubby fellow who had a look of extreme consternation on his face. He tried to turn us away at first, claiming we had come to the wrong house, as though we could with the bright dwarvish thief mark shining clearly on the door. But Kíli soon put an end to that, and I handed our host my weapons as we entered, for it is ill manners to come so armed into a stranger's home.
I should have killed him then and there, but how was I to know he was to be the bane of Durin's heirs?
For if my brother was enthusiastic with his compliments it was no more than such a finely crafted home deserved; we dwarves can always recognize the skill of a true master no matter the material in which they work. And if Kíli's eyes often turned towards this Master Baggins as we prepared for dinner then I thought nothing of it, for he was an odd-looking creature and my brother had always possessed an overabundance of curiosity. Indeed, once our uncle arrived there was little time for anything but the discussion of our quest, and the news that none would aid us dampened all our spirits.
Only one note among the many did not ring true, and it came some time after the hobbit had refused to join us in our purpose. The rest of the company had already left, returning to the inn where Gandalf had booked us rooms to pass the night, and I was waiting by the ponies for Kíli to finish up inside. But he took longer than expected, indeed long enough that I walked back up the stairs to check on him and I thought that I heard voices behind the hobbit's door. Yet before I could do more than knock, Kíli finally joined me so we mounted our ponies and set off on our way.
I admit I wondered about the soft smile on my brother's face, but after we joined the others under the sign of the Green Dragon, I soon put it from my mind. There was food and drink and preparations to be had and I was far more preoccupied with the insult Lord Daín offered to our family for his dismissal of our quest was an attack upon our name.
I had not realized then what a fragile thing my house's honor was.
And when I slept, I slept easily, lost in dreams of glory, for I did not grasp what ruin lay ahead.
The next morning began in a blur of activity, thirteen dwarves running to and fro. But when the packing had been finished and the company prepared, the wizard refused to let us go. Gandalf was insistent that we wait for the halfling, saying that he had left Bilbo the contract just in case he changed his mind.
The wizard was so determined in his belief that Nori offered him fair odds, and never one to refuse a wager the rest of us joined in. Most of the company bet that the hobbit would not come, and I put my money on that outcome with the rest. The hobbit had already refused to aid us the night before and I could see no reason for him to alter this decision. Indeed, I thought it was probably for the best since he clearly was no burglar despite what Gandalf claimed.
However, my brother shared the wizard's optimism and placed his wager firmly on the hobbit's side. When questioned about this certainty, Kíli would not give his reasons, just shrugged and blamed a feeling while he smiled that odd smile yet again. At the time, I thought him simply being foolish and certainly it seemed that his money would be lost. For as the hours passed with no sign of the halfling, even Gandalf had to give in to Thorin's impatient glare, and our company finally set out on our way. And though my brother's mood seemed strangely dim for all his earlier excitement, I assumed his nerves had just caught up to him since we'd never been on a journey with so much at stake before.
No one was more surprised than I to hear a shout behind us and see the hobbit running frantically, contract trailing in the wind. He sounded so proud that he had signed it that I couldn't help but grin and at uncle's order Kíli and I lifted him upon a pony of his own. It was not until the halfling stopped us to whine about his missing handkerchief that I recalled my reservations, though Kíli continued beaming at his back- and well he should for my brother had won a fair bit of money off his bet.
Would that we had left him where he stood.
As the journey continued, I initially had no further cause to wonder about my brother's mood, for Kíli went back to his normal effervescent self, talking and laughing as though we were on a grand adventure. He even joined in my jokes happily enough, as he'd always had a prankster's soul and could hardly resist such a fantastic new target as our hobbit. If my taunts were a little sharper, and my tongue a little crueler that was only because I knew someone had to toughen up the halfling before he got all of us killed, and Kíli's soft heart made him unsuited for the task.
I still don't know exactly when my brother stopped joining in, when instead of laughing he'd just look at me with disappointed eyes.
But soon enough when the hobbit would seek solace from our company's disparaging remarks it was Kíli who would follow and try to cheer him up. I noticed the change then, how could I not, but when questioned my brother only said that someone had to make Bilbo feel welcome and it might as well be him. At the time I thought it just the foolishness of youth, that this desire for a friend was only a product of my brother's years and his resistance to our upbringing.
While we'd both been raised in exile and I knew my duty, Kíli had always chafed against the restrictions of his rank. For all our mother's efforts my brother would not be tamed, stubbornly refusing to act as befit a prince of Durin's line. It was bad enough that he chose to become an archer and cut his beard to do it, but at least that was a useful battle skill and granting him that concession won us the larger war. For he'd kept his word; in exchange for his bow Kíli had stopped befriending commoners, stopped haunting the steps of every stranger to our town, and had become at least capable of looking proper when he must.
But now he was backsliding with this continual coddling of the hobbit, and finally I decided that I had to set my brother right. Uncle Thorin too had made his disapproval known, for he could see the signs as well as I, and we knew that now was not the time to let the breach of his promise slide. Not when we were finally on our way to reclaiming our homeland and Kíli's foolish actions would reflect upon us all.
The night our company stopped to camp at the remains of a farmer's cottage and uncle set my brother and I to guard the ponies, I knew that this was my chance to knock some sense into his head. And I tried, I really did.
I calmly explained that while it was good of Kíli to try and make the hobbit more loyal to the company by befriending him, he really should leave that task to one of the commoner members of our company. Ori maybe, he was a sweet fellow, and more on par with the hobbit's unfortunate status. It was Kíli's duty to stand firm with our uncle until the halfling proved himself worthy of our regard, and even then he should maintain a polite distance for it's not like Bilbo could ever really be as important as dwarf royalty.
But my brother simply refused to accept this, and when he dared to ask what made dwarves so much better anyway, I'm afraid I lost my temper. I may have said some things better left unvoiced about his beard and clothes and lifestyle choices and Kíli was never one to back down from a fight. Our argument devolved quickly into childish insults and the airing of old grudges, and we became so incensed that the shriek of our ponies and crashing in the trees caught us by surprise. At the sound our fighting stopped immediately, Kíli staring down at me with wide and startled eyes. I signaled to him and we moved toward the noise, finding a tree uprooted and the two ponies that had been tied there mysteriously vanished.
I was worried then and I could see my concern reflected in my brother's face for whatever had done this was large and probably quite dangerous. We were caught in a state of horror, contemplating what uncle would do to us for failing in such a basic task, when our burglar arrived. He was obviously only there to bring the both of us our dinner, but for once I thought him Valar-sent.
After explaining the situation and discovering that yes, it was indeed something quite dangerous, I came up with a plan. If anyone was going to steal our ponies back from the trio of mountain trolls we saw before us it should be the hobbit, because wasn't that what a burglar was for? He'd either prove his worth and show that he could help us with our purpose, or give us a reason to send him home- assuming he survived in the attempt.
I was surprised when Kíli agreed with me, for I thought he would have protested the danger to his friend. But as he pushed Bilbo towards the clearing, he whispered low that this was the hobbit's chance to show his skills and win my uncle's favor and promised that everything would somehow be all right.
That was the first moment that I wondered if there was something deeper going on, for a Durin does not promise lightly, not when our word is all we have.
But Kíli shrugged off my questioning gaze and we slipped back into the trees to hide while we watched our burglar work. He was quick and quiet as he slipped up to our ponies and for a moment I thought that perhaps he would succeed. But the hobbit just fumbled with the ropes instead of cutting them, crawling back and forth as though a child in the dark. Only when my brother whispered that Bilbo should have said he lacked a blade did I recognize the problem, for I could not conceive of setting out unarmed. Useless halfling, and for once Kíli seemed to agree for as the hobbit crawled towards the trolls I heard him mutter that this would not end well.
He turned to me then and ordered me to go get aid, to bring the others quickly and well-armed. At first I simply stared at him, aghast that he wished to risk our company to save the hobbit from his fate. Only once my brother reminded me that someone still had to rescue our ponies, voice low and filled with fury, did I accede and fly swiftly back to camp.
Once alerted, the other dwarves moved like lightning and yet we were almost still too late, for we returned to find the hobbit captured and Kíli, foolish Kíli, confronting all three trolls on his own. I don't know what my brother thought to do against the monsters, but at the sight of him acting as if his life had so little value my heart filled with terror at the thought that I might lose him.
When the trolls threw Bilbo to Kíli, who dropped his own damned sword to catch him, my uncle and I could restrain ourselves no longer and charged into the fray, mad with battle lust and the need to protect Durin's youngest heir. Through the red haze that filled my vision I saw my brother whisper to the hobbit and push him to the side before picking up his sword and joining in the attack. The company fought against the monsters as though one mind, and we were holding our own and perhaps even gaining ground until the cursed halfling got himself captured once again.
There was real fear in Kíli's voice when the trolls threatened to tear Bilbo apart, and only uncle's quick hand stopped my brother from running to his aid. Kíli always did care too deeply about his friends, but even for all our disdain I knew none of our company could watch the hobbit be ripped to pieces before our very eyes. Not even my uncle who had claimed no responsibility for the burglar's fate, and so I soon found myself lying trussed up in sacks with half my fellows, the other half slow roasting on a turning spit.
And then the halfling had the nerve to throw this sacrifice back into our faces, advising our captors on how to cook us sweetest. All I could think when Bilbo told the trolls to skin us was that he planned to trade our fates for his, and I looked over at my brother to show him that this is what came of trusting other races with our lives. But when I saw the look upon Kíli's face all I could think was, By Mahal's fury, not again!
My brother's eyes contained an agony of betrayal and I realized that my earlier suspicion had been correct, there was far more going on here than just a simple friendship. But honestly the realization did not surprise me greatly, for Kíli had made a habit of inappropriate infatuations in his younger years, trailing after dwarves and men alike. So I assumed that his interest in the hobbit, while inconvenient, would soon pass like all the others and at worst I'd have to accept yet another ridiculous hobby; he could add crochet to the range of skills he'd emulated over the years, from the bow to forging to fine embroidery. And I decided I could worry about Kíli's foolish admiration after I repaid his current idol for the insult and the threat against our lives.
There was little I could do, tied up as I was, but I squirmed toward the halfling, determined to take some vengeance from his hide. I was nearly in biting range when everyone started yelling something about parasites, and in the nick of time our wizard made his entrance, a deafening crack heralding the arrival of the sun. With the trolls turned to stone it was short work for the wizard to free our company and soon we were helping each other to our feet.
As I watched Kíli fuss over the hobbit, all friendship and smiles once again, I thought to myself, Oh, yeah. This could be infatuation for sure and I resolved to do what I could to make this one pass quickly. Because while Bilbo had saved our lives it was his fault to begin with, and the last thing my brother needed was another improper role model if I was to finally train him to act as appropriate to his rank. So I would watch for the signs and separate them where I could, while I waited for this thing to run its course.
How was I to know that this time would be different? How was I to fathom that my brother'd fall so far?
Of course shortly after I came to this conclusion there was no time for thinking anything at all. First we were accosted by Gandalf's mad wizard friend and after we found ourselves with an orc pack on our trail. We ran then for our dearly rescued ponies had run off, the company fleeing away from our pursuers while the brown wizard tried to draw them away. And if my brother hadn't choked perhaps we would have made it all the way.
What use is a bow that cannot even kill our enemies? I wondered in annoyance when Kíli failed to bring down the orc scout and his warg. Oh sure, he stopped the orc's horn from blowing but that hardly stopped the screams and before long our company was surrounded by death on every side.
I was prepared to fight, blades drawn and ready when Gandalf called out for us to hide and we ran for the crevice where he stood. Kíli and our uncle were the last two to arrive and I did not draw full breath until I saw them sliding safely down the stone, soon followed by the sounds of horses and battle from above. When an orc tumbled down into our cave, slain by an arrow in its neck, we realized that we'd been saved by elves and the knowledge shamed me just as I saw it in uncle Thorin's eyes. But needs must and so we followed down the path the wizard led.
Though when we came out from the between the rocks to see the hidden valley of Rivendell, fury burned within me that Gandalf had dared to lead us to the house of our betrayers and it was all I could do to keep my swords within their sheaths. Indeed, the whole company was on edge as we walked down into the unnaturally sculpted gardens of the elves, with only the hobbit staring around us all in wonder.
We were greeted at the entrance by an elf, tall and pasty as all his kind, and he did not even do us the courtesy of speaking in Westron, instead addressing Gandalf in his fluting elvish tongue. Whatever the news he passed the wizard was not pleased, but his response was cut short by a piercing horn behind us as a cohort of elvish lancers thundered down the path. Our company closed ranks quickly against this new threat, pulling the halfling back behind drawn steel, and all was tense for many moments while uncle and the elf lord faced off.
But thankfully Lord Elrond decided not to take offense at Thorin's poorly veiled contempt, for though I shared my uncle's desire to cut the elves' smug faces down to size I could recognize that the odds were not in our favor. As could the rest of our company and Kíli shot me a relieved smile when the elf invited us to accept his hospitality, wrapping his arm around the halfling's shoulders and steering him inside. And thus, the company of Thorin Oakenshield came to stay in Rivendell.
Our time in the elf lord's house was peaceful despite the underlying tension, and so I had thought to spare for the target of my brother's unsuitable affections. I began by watching them to double-check that my theory was correct for I hoped greatly that the fight for our survival could have clouded my perception. But now that I was looking for them, the signs were not hard to find.
To be fair, my brother was being subtle, and none of others suspected that his interest in the hobbit was more than simple friendship, but I knew Kíli well enough to recognize what lay beneath his smile. It was there in the touches that lasted just a bit too long, the shy glances whenever no one else was looking. How my brother sat just a little too close, leaned in just a little too far. Perhaps most telling was Kíli's extreme jealousy, for Bilbo found the elves fascinating and his every admiring comment was met by my brother's deepening scowl. Such jealousy was the surest sign of a new infatuation, for Kíli was possessive of his interests in sharp contrast to his normal easy-going state.
Which meant to my annoyance, that I was right.
The plan was simple then, to separate them as much as possible so that Kíli's crush would have no chance to grow. This was easy enough in Rivendell for I could always find something to occupy my brother and the halfling was often off with our uncle in his meetings with the elves. Even once we left, I just made sure to always walk between them, to casually interrupt any serious conversations. And though Kíli sent me aggravated glances, he had no reason to wonder at my actions, for I had long cultivated an obliviousness to his infatuations. If that obliviousness had often led to his suitors giving up and his unsuitable friends being chased away, that was simply a fortunate coincidence, and I was sure this time it would be the same.
I think by then it was already far too late to use such simple tactics, but at that point in our journey I could not have known.
My misconception held through our long trek deep into the Misty Mountains, the slow climb up crag and cliff and stone. In fact I thought that my plan was working, for although Kíli remained friendly with the hobbit, he soon began to accept my interference without any complaint other than an exasperated sigh. That seemed a sign that his interest might be waning and if he'd sometimes disappear from my sight I hardly had the energy to worry.
Indeed when our company ran into Stone Giants, battling fiercely in the cliffs, it was my name that Kíli shouted as the path we stood on slipped away. My name not the hobbit's and I felt rather smug about it, amidst all the jumping for our lives.
By the time our company was all together again and sheltered for the night we were all exhausted and accepted gratefully when Kíli offered to take first watch. I fell asleep quickly and I was only woken from my slumber by my uncle's shout before the floor opened up beneath us. It was goblins, hordes of them, who had carved out the inside of the mountain in some grotesque imitation of our fine-cut dwarven halls. They were on our company before we could do more than blink, chivvying us along across their rickety bridges and filth-covered walkways until finally these foul creatures brought us to their king.
That was a grotesque behemoth of a goblin, fat and mutated, who dared to claim that Azog the Defiler was still alive and had lain a price upon my uncle's head. He aimed to torture us first before handing Thorin over to be slain and for all our struggles we could not escape.
Our only hope was the wizard, and delaying til he found us, but what were the odds that Gandalf even would for he had hardly shown any great power on our quest so far. Once the goblins found Thorin's sword our chances grew even slimmer for the sight of Orcist drove them into a frenzy and although we fought valiantly we were soon overwhelmed, watching in horror as they raised a blade above my uncle's neck.
Which was, of course, when the wizard decided to arrive. It seemed he loved to make grand entrances for he again appeared again at the very last moment, flattening our enemies and freeing us to fight. Then we were running, battling for our lives and slaying every creature that got into our way.
At first I thought we wouldn't make it for the mountain was a warren, built without sensible thought or care, but after Gandalf killed the Goblin King we felt the pull of daylight and soon found ourselves breathing open air. It seemed that we'd spent almost a day deep within the mountains, for night had nearly fallen yet again.
The wizard asked then, what had become of our hobbit, and we were surprised to find that he was missing. When Nori mentioned that he'd seen Bilbo slip away most of us accepted my uncle's explanation, for why wouldn't the halfling have left us to our fate? After all, it's what I would have done to him. Kíli though was strangely frantic at the thought, searching all around him as though to find the hobbit hidden beneath a stone. When the halfling returned, stepped out from behind a tree as though appearing from thin air, my brother's smile was blinding and the overwhelming relief in his voice sent off alarm bells in my mind.
I had been acting on the assumption that this was simple infatuation, and could be dealt with like I had dealt with all the others in the past. But what if I was wrong? What if my brother had done the unthinkable and actually imagined himself in love with this creature? This male creature. What if he had dared to break our race's last unforgivable taboo? There was no proof yet that that was the case, but the thought alone filled me with dread for that path could lead only to dishonor and disgrace.
All I could do was stare aghast as my uncle questioned the hobbit's motives, and hope that the others mistook my horror for anger or suspicion. Indeed, those emotions soon overcame the fear, for Bilbo had the audacity to talk to us of homelands, as though he knew the hell our people suffered every day. What does he know of loss and deprivation? What does he know of fighting not to lose the ones you love?
Thorin's face mirrored my own distrust but before he could question the hobbit further we were set upon by wargs and soon found ourselves once again running for our lives. We barely stayed ahead of the pack while we fled east down the mountains and I felt one nip at my heels as I lunged for the branches of a tree. There we were, trapped high above the ground on the edge of a vast cliff, monsters circling beneath our feet, and that's when I saw him: Azog the Defiler, the one who killed our king.
Azog, that fell creature. One day I'll make him suffer, make him pay for the Durin's blood he's spilled.
But it was not to be that day, for I was helpless to do more than stare. All I could do was hold on by my fingertips, feet dangling over empty air, as uncle charged into battle against our ancient foe. All I could do was watch in horror as Azog beat him down and I knew then that I was about to watch my uncle die.
Until the hobbit, that silly, useless hobbit jumped in to do what all us dwarves could not. Though obviously terrified, Bilbo stood firm between Thorin and the bringer of his death and Kíli's face glowed with exultation when he pulled me up and we flung ourselves into the fray. The thrill of battle sang within my blood as our swords cleaved through orc flesh, and I fought my way towards our uncle and the great pale monster just beyond. Perhaps we would have made it and become legend or perhaps we would have died, great songs sung of the death of the last of Durin's line in the fight for glory and our vengeance.
But before the tide could turn towards either outcome, great winged shadows descended on us from the sky. At first I was filled with terror at the sight of these great eagles, but they were on our side and attacked the orcs with fury. These great birds came to save us, snatching us from the jaws of death, and I was grateful for Thorin's sake though it burned my splintered pride.
Kíli rests behind me now, passed out from exhaustion, and I can see uncle dangling from the largest eagle's claws. Though I do not know if he still lives, we are safe now and perhaps my heart can finally ease.
But I have used this time of respite to reflect upon my brother's actions over the course of the journey that has brought us here and I am not comforted by my conclusions. No, I am convinced that my worst fears have been realized and Kíli's heart has gone impossibly astray.
There is still hope though. Even if he believes himself in love, Kíli could still be mistaken for he is young and foolish and knows little of the workings of a heart. I have also seen no proof that the hobbit returns my brother's misguided interest so while his mind may be tainted his body should still be pure. If I can end this perversion before that final line is crossed, perhaps Durin's youngest may yet be redeemed.
But no one else must know of this before I am able to contain the situation. Thorin does not need the worry and I cannot risk the damage to Kíli''s reputation, not with Erebor on the line. Better my brother should see his folly and learn to treat the hobbit with no more than the respect that he has earned before anyone discovers how far he dared to fall.
So I am resolved. I will find a way to save Kíli from himself even if I have to break his heart to do it, and he will thank me in the long run when his duty is fulfilled. I must protect the honor of our house even from within and I must stop my brother before his mistake can no longer be undone.
Part II: Ruin