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 The struggle is always the worst part, but Fíli would daresay he’s gotten used to it by now. The old dwarf grows still underneath his hands, and Fíli takes in a deep breath and holds it. He can feel his own heart beating against his ribcage, still running wild with adrenaline. Thump-thump, thump-thump, it goes. Thump-thump, thump-thump.

Fíli doesn’t know how many heartbeats he needs to wait until he’s in the clear, until he can be sure that the old dwarf won’t be moving again, but after a while he finally exhales. He removes his fingers from where they’re clenched around the old dwarf’s nose, one on either side, his thumb wrapped underneath his jaw. He presses his fingertips to the old dwarf’s neck. Nothing.

“You can let go of his legs now, Kíli. It’s done.”

“Struggled a bit, this one did.” His brother rises and takes a step forward to examine their latest victim. Thick white hair, forked beard, short even for their race. “Didn’t seem like a bad guy, really.”

Fíli scowls. “He wanted to fuck you. That’s how we got him to follow you out here.”

“And can you blame him?” Kíli grins and starts pulling at the laces of his shirt, loosening them so that the pale skin underneath peeks through. He’s teasing Fíli, reenacting the striptease he had done for him just the night before. “Doesn’t mean he had to die.”

“Don’t,” Fíli hisses, stepping around the corpse to stand in front of his brother. He can’t put a name to the emotion prompting this reaction – it can’t be guilt; they’ve done this far too many times by now. Even if he could feel guilt over this anymore, he no longer has a right to. “Don’t even joke about that.”

But all of Fíli’s nerves are on edge, and his chest feels tight. This time was different. This time, he wasn’t thinking about the money, or how hungry they’ve been, or how he’s sorry that it’s come to this, but it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and Fíli’s just doing what he can. No, this time, all he could think about was the way the old dwarf had eyed Kíli up in that tavern, the lecherous smile on his face; he remembers how Kíli had bent his head down and flirted back, a whispered proposition on his lips. Oh, he knows it was all an act, that Kíli is his just as he is Kíli’s, but he can’t stop himself from seeing it, can’t stop himself from thinking about it, and—ahhhh. There it is.

Jealousy.

Fíli reaches up and tangles his hands in Kíli’s dark hair; he pulls his head down. It’s a messy kiss, a clash of tongues and teeth, and Kíli groans and brings him closer. And, just like that, Fíli can’t stop himself, even though he knows this is the wrong place for this, that anyone could find them right there with the man they killed at their feet. But Kíli moans into his brother’s mouth, completely unmindful. Fíli knows it’s because kisses like these are his favorite, when Fíli loses himself and gets possessive.

“You’re saying you wouldn’t kill someone for wanting to fuck me?” Kíli whispers.

Fíli breaks away and buries his face in Kíli’s neck. “Mahal help me; I think I just did.”

 

Chapter Text

His mother found him outside in the quiet, staring out into a grassy field with a scowl on his face and a cigarette dangling between his fingertips. Kili knew the question she would ask, well before she had even opened her mouth: “Since when have you been a smoker?”

“Since Fili quit.” Kili blew a puff of smoke out into the cold February air. It was a horrible day for a wedding, all gray skies with a cold, drizzly rain. Kili felt as though the universe had set out to validate his disdain for the whole affair - which he was thankful for, but it was just about the only thing.

Kili turned and gave his mother a humorless smile. “Yeah, Fili up and quit cold turkey. Can you believe it? Decided smoking was bad since he’s going to be a father now. So he gave his last pack of cigarettes to me.”

Dis frowned. “I think he meant for you to throw them away.”

“Then he should have just done it himself.” Kili took another drag, his brows heavy.

He’d ducked out of the reception early – as best man he was supposed to give the toast, but he couldn’t do it; he’d spent the entire ceremony looking down at his feet, half because he thought he might vomit. The other part of him, well, he wasn’t sure what he felt. Sadness, perhaps, because his chest felt tight and his eyes kept tearing up at each and every reminder of the day’s events. Or anger, maybe, because he also felt like throwing his fist through the community center’s paper-thin walls. This hadn’t been the ceremony that Fili deserved, these cheap decorations, the bland supermarket catering. Not the wife he deserved either, but Kili stopped his train of thought there.

It was a shotgun wedding, and everyone knew it.

“Thorin gave a nice speech.” Dis’s voice seemed too loud over the soft drone of the rain. “It was almost impossible to tell he hadn’t prepared for it.”

Kili shrugged; he’d figured his uncle would do an adequate job. Better than he would, at least; he’d spent weeks trying to craft his speech, purely out of love for Fili and not for love of the situation, but he knew he wasn’t the best with words. It was probably for the best, in the end.

Dis cleared her throat. “Fili was asking after you. Wondered where you went.”

“Why? Shouldn’t he be paying attention to Sigrid?” The words were out before he could stop himself.

Dis huffed and plucked the cigarette from Kili’s fingers. “I don’t entirely understand why you’re so jealous of Sigrid,” she snapped, “but it’s high time you set it aside because none of this is about you. Your brother made a mistake, and he’s doing the best he can to make things right, but this isn’t easy for him and he needs you.” Dis’s eyes softened a bit then. “He’s always going to be your older brother, and that’s not going to change just because he’s married now.”

Kili bit his lip; he wanted to say something, maybe explain that none of this was because he was afraid of being replaced – or whatever his mother thought was going on – but he didn’t know how. “Can you just leave me alone?” he asked quietly.

“Come back inside and get some food,” Dis suggested. “There will be dancing soon.”

Kili shut his eyes, tried not to picture his brother leading Sigrid out onto the dance floor. Didn’t want to see Sigrid in her pretty pink wedding dress, the fabric stretched taut around her middle. Didn’t want to see Fili smile at her, hold her hand, touch her. He shook his head, not trusting himself to speak.

Dis sighed. “Try to be happy for him, all right?” There was silence for a few moments, and then he heard the door swing closed. Finally. Alone again.

Kili fished the carton of cigarettes from his suit pocket and stuck the last one in his mouth. Briefly, he wondered if this was what kissing Fili would have tasted like. He didn’t exactly like the flavor, but he could have gotten used to it.

He brought Fili’s lighter up; he exhaled. The rain continued to fall, and his lower lip trembled. “He doesn’t need me,” Kili whispered into the night. “If he did, he’d have come find me by now.”

Kili stood in the rain for the rest of the evening, undisturbed.

 

Chapter Text

KILI!!!”

Fili lowered his sunglasses and raised an eyebrow as Tauriel ran out onto the pool deck, yelling his brother’s name. It was two days before the wedding, and Fili was trying to relax and enjoy the warm Hawaiian sun.

“He’s not here,” Fili finally called out, leaning back onto his lounge chair. “But if I could be of some assistance…?”

“Oh, no,” Tauriel said dryly. “Don’t get up. I can see you’re busy.”

“Ha, ha. Very funny.” Fili sat up and gave his brother’s best-friend-cum-wedding-planner his full attention. “Seriously, what’s the problem?”

Tauriel sat down on an adjacent pool chair and sighed. “The buffet we reserved for the reception cancelled. Apparently they double-booked. But, not to worry!” Tauriel smiled, just a little too widely. “I have fixed it.”

“Have you, now?” Fili reached for his glass and took a sip of his Mai Tai.

“I made a few phone calls and found a restaurant with enough seating for our party. It’s a traditional luau!” Tauriel said proudly. “Seems appropriate, no? We got really lucky – seems they had a last-minute cancellation.”

Fili frowned; as exciting as a luau sounded, he was willing to bet there would be a few problems there. He set his drink down and looked at Tauriel. “Is this a traditional kosher luau, perchance?”

The smile instantly froze on Tauriel’s face. “Oh, shit.” She pulled her tablet from her purse. “Shit, shit, shit, I forgot… Um, take a look, here’s the menu—“ She pushed the screen in front of Fili’s nose. “Will it work?”

Fili gently took the tablet and ducked under a giant pool umbrella so he could see what was on the screen. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the page: kalua pork… squid luau… barbecue shrimp. He took his sunglasses off and handed Tauriel her tablet back. “Not a chance.”

Tauriel pulled at her hair. “None of it?!”

“Oh, a few things. Some raw fish items that no one except Frerin is going to eat. Lots of fruit, which Ori and Sif won’t eat. Chicken.” Fili sat down again. “Actually, probably not even that.”

“But, are you sure this is going to be a problem?” Tauriel dropped her voice down to a whisper. “Because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Kili eat bacon before…”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, Kili and I aren’t exactly practicing Jews. Our extended family, on the other hand…” Fili sighed and rubbed at his jaw. “They’re going to be pissed enough as it is when they find out Kili and I are a couple. The last thing we need is for the food to be an issue, too.”

Tauriel reached out to put her hand on Fili’s shoulder. “Don’t worry; I know this looks bad, but I promise everything is going to be… wait.” Tauriel pulled back and frowned. “Did you just say when your family find out about you and Kili?”

“Yep.” Fili reached out for his Mai Tai again. “We haven’t told them yet.”

“Then what the hell do they think they’re flying all the way out to Hawaii for?!”

“Family reunion.” Fili drained his glass. “We thought it would be easier if we just told them all at once right at the last minute.”

Tauriel stared at Fili’s empty glass for a long moment. “Where did you get that?” she finally whispered.

Fili gestured toward the Tiki Bar. Tauriel stood and immediately began walking toward it. “You and Kili are definitely made for each other,” she called out over her shoulder, “because you’re both complete idiots!”

Fili laughed and leaned back in his chair. “Well, what can I say?” He put his sunglasses back on. “Must run in the family.”

 


 

Tauriel was halfway through her second cocktail when her phone went off. She smiled: a message from Kili.

[  Do u think it wud be tacky if I quote 1D when I say my vows??  ]

[  Sif says it’s a bad idea  ]

[  But I want to sing ‘You & I’ to Fili <333  ]

Tauriel calmly shut off her phone and reached for her glass, finishing it in record time. She then stood up and went to order a third.

 

Chapter Text

Fíli liked his intended, but that was all – and somehow that seemed to make it all the worse. If Náin had been a complete troll, well, that would make things easy: Fíli would have the perfect excuse to call the whole thing off and find someone more to his liking.

But Náin, regrettably, seemed decent enough: boisterous and with a good sense of humor, he was the kind of dwarf Fíli might grab an ale with. But marry? Fíli grimaced and drained his glass. Náin was not unpleasing to look at, but the burly redhead would never have been Fíli’s first choice in a bed partner – let alone a spouse.

It was a less than ideal scenario, to be sure. But Fíli would have to live with it if he didn’t want to evoke the wrath of his grandfather, who had arranged the entire thing. With an irritated huff, Fíli set his fork down and, from his place at the high table, looked around the great hall to observe the guests assembled at the long tables in front of theirs. Most were denizens of the Iron Hills, minor nobility and the like. In short, no one whom Fíli had much thought nor care for.

Fíli was about to turn back to his food when he noticed someone staring at him: a striking brunet, sitting at one of the tables near the very front. Despite his prominent seat, Fíli couldn’t help but notice the brunet bore none of the braids that the highest nobility typically wore. That… was very curious.

Intrigued, Fíli gave the dwarf a polite smile; he had to admit, he found the other dwarf’s unconventional style appealing. Fíli did not, however, intend to give him any encouragement – but the brunet apparently had other ideas. Before Fili could return to his meal, the young dwarf smiled back at him and winked. Fíli nearly started laughing at the impertinence of the gesture; did the brunet not realize who he was, that he was already promised to another dwarf? Fíli knew he ought to put an end to this behavior and look away, but the handsome dwarf’s bright eyes proved too tempting. Fíli felt his smile grow wider, and he gave the brunet a small nod of his head.

Their flirtations continued throughout the course of the feast, throwing sly glances and increasingly suggestive looks at one another whenever they thought they could get away with it – and perhaps even when they couldn’t. Fíli had no delusions of being unobserved: as crown prince to the throne of Erebor, he was used to having eyes on him. So he knew, full well, that this was bold behavior – and inconsiderate toward Náin besides. Fíli’s conscience tried to reason that it was harmless enough: though it was true that he and Náin were pledged to one other, they were not yet wed.

“I see you’ve noticed Kíli," a jovial voice suddenly declared, interrupting Fíli's line of thought.

Fíli’s grin immediately faded, and he turned to look at Náin, chagrined. “Forgive me. The lad caught my eye, I admit, but I shouldn’t have–”

Náin waved him off. “Nonsense, if I had a pretty dwarrowdam looking at me that way, believe me, I’d be actin’ much the same.” A wry smile crossed his features. “Though perhaps not in the middle of my own welcome feast, mind.”

Fíli couldn’t help but laugh. “Duly noted. I’ll try to be more circumspect in future.” For some reason the realization that Náin felt the same as him over their arrangement put him in better spirits. Fíli knew the conversation should end there, but, before he could stop himself, he found himself asking: “I couldn’t help but notice that Kíli doesn't seem to be wearing the traditional braids…”

“Ah, wondering what he’s doing so close to the front of the room?” Náin gave Fíli a sly look. “Or if he’s not so important that you need to worry about preserving his honor? Hate to disappoint, but he’s from a good enough family – though from what I hear, he gives his tutors a lot of grief.” Náin grinned and picked up his wine glass, taking a long sip. “Won’t wear the braids, won’t sit still for his lessons, he just does as he pleases. Absolutely shameless. Why, just last month we hosted a delegation of Elves, and he was flirtin’ with them just as shamelessly as he was flirtin' with you just now.” Náin set his glass down and gave Fíli another amused glance. “Don’t believe any of them were quite so receptive to his attentions as you’ve been, though. You’ll be givin’ him hope that he might actually find himself a suitor someday.”

“I see.” Fíli wasn’t sure if Náin was trying to warn him away from Kíli or encourage him – though he suspected Náin wasn’t the type to beat around the bush when he had something he wanted to say. Perhaps he was just passing along the latest gossip. Nevertheless, Fíli forced a smile to his face, and said he would keep his distance in the future.

And he’d had every intention of doing so, too. But as Fíli lay in bed that evening, he found his thoughts turning back to Kíli and those expressive dark eyes of his. They had never spoken. How had Kíli managed to captivate him so completely without uttering a single word? Fíli tried to stamp down the urge to seek Kíli out the next day, to actually talk to him - discover what his voice sounded like. Fíli knew that doing so wouldn’t be right; it would dishonor Náin and Kíli both. Not to mention himself.

With a sigh, Fíli turned over onto his side. He had to admit, he envied Kíli a little. It seemed he had the freedom to marry for love, if he could find it - not to mention the courage to do as he pleased. Fíli wanted that, too. But as royalty, that meant his duty was to his kingdom, not his heart.

Fíli continued to ponder the evening’s events, a strange mixture of fascination and envy warring for dominance in his heart. He yawned, and resolved to be rid of both emotions by morning.

He was only successful in absolving himself of one of them, in the end - but unfortunately, it was the one that mattered the least.

 

Chapter Text

“Why don’t you braid your hair?”

It was a question that Fíli had never intended to ask, but as he gazed at Kíli - and how the torchlight reflected off of his dark hair, still alluring despite the simplicity with which it was styled - he found the question was already out of his mouth before he could think any better of it.

Kíli, predictably, rolled his eyes. “Do you have any idea how many times I've been asked that?” he moaned. But he was smiling as he did so, which was a relief.

It also meant Fíli didn't have to let the subject drop. "I think you'd look nice," he teased, "with a few braids in your hair. They would suit you."

"They would not," Kíli snorted, "and anyway, I have better things to do with my time. But, if my hair annoys you," and here the color of Kíli’s eyes grew darker, “you’re more than welcome to put a few braids in yourself.”

For a moment, Fíli couldn’t speak – so convinced was he that he had misheard the proposition. The act of braiding another dwarf's hair had meaning - it wasn't something that mere friends shared. “You want me to braid your hair?" Fíli asked, laughing incredulously. "Right now? You can’t be serious!”

"I'm never serious," Kíli retorted, a cheeky smile on his face that probably made him look a lot braver than he felt. “But the request is sincere. Braid my hair, Fíli." A beat passed, and Kíli glanced down. "If- if you want to. No one has to know who did it."

Fíli swallowed, fully aware what Kíli was really asking. If Kíli was willing to let Fíli braid his hair in secret, then there were other things they could do in secret as well.

A small voice in the back of Fíli's mind was shouting at him to just shut up and leave, that he already had a fiance, that this was a bad idea. Fíli swallowed, looked Kíli over. There was an odd beauty to him - the beard he kept short, his unadorned hair - but that wasn't why Fíli felt drawn to him. Kíli was nothing like Náin, but that wasn't quite it either.

Fíli found himself laughing again, as he so often did when they were together. “That’s a bold proposal,” he finally said.

Kíli went very still, then nodded his head.

Fíli leaned in close. “Luckily, I happen to like bold proposals.”

A wild grin spread out over Kíli’s face, and – heedless of the consequences, or the eyes that might be watching – he took Fíli’s hand, and held it tightly.

Chapter Text

“Fíli, wake up, you’re going to be late!”

“Don’t wanna,” Fíli mumbled, burying his face in his pillow.

Kíli narrowed his eyes, far from impressed. “Thorin’s going to be angry…”

“Don’t care.” Fíli rolled over onto his side and squinted up at Kíli. “What’s he going to do, disinherit me?”

“He might.” Kíli stood up a bit straighter and puffed out his chest. “Maybe he’ll name me heir instead once he realizes how lazy you are.”

“Hmph. Good. Why don’t you go off and do my lessons for me then? Get a head start on usurping me.”

“Nice try.” Kíli leaned over and tugged on Fíli’s arm. “Come on, get up.”

“I’ve got a better idea.” Without any further warning, Fíli twisted out of his brother’s hold, and – clearly taking advantage of his superior upper body strength – pulled Kíli into the bed alongside him. “Why don’t you take the day off with me?”

Kíli scrambled up into a sitting position, an outraged grumble on the tip of his tongue. But it died just as soon as he caught a glimpse of Fíli: the sheet that had covered him was now pooling down around his waist, leaving plenty of skin exposed. Kíli felt his cheeks heat as his eyes lingered on his brother’s bare chest, as he studied the tightly-curled golden hair there. Of course Kíli had seen it all hundreds of times before – and then some – but it was only recently that he’d started to take an interest in any of it. Another flood of warmth rushed through him, his fingers tingling with a sudden need to reach out and touch. Kíli swallowed guiltily. Oh, this was dangerous. But he managed to hold himself back, and settled for glaring at Fíli instead.

“I’m not going to let you use me as an excuse when Thorin reprimands you for being late," Kíli snapped.

“I’m wounded, brother." Fíli's tone suggested otherwise, however. "You know I’d rather spend the morning with you than go to my lessons.”

“Naturally. But I also know you’ll try to twist this situation to your advantage if I go along with it.” Kíli affected a gravely serious and dutiful look, and then, in his best imitation of Fíli: “'But Thorin, Kíli was feeling lonely, and I couldn’t just leave him behind when he needed me!’ Something like that, am I right?”

Fíli just smiled serenely, which was answer enough.

“Anyway, you’ll be cutting it close as it is now, so–”

Fíli wrapped his arms around Kíli's waist. “No. Stay.”

“Fíli–”

“You’re cute when you’re trying to be responsible.”

Kíli groaned, his resolve crumbling completely. With a long suffering sigh, he extracted himself from Fíli’s hold, only to crawl under the covers and surround Fíli with an embrace of his own. “Why is it that everyone always thinks I’m the one who’s a bad influence on you?”

He felt rather than heard Fíli laugh against his shoulder. “Couldn’t say.”

Kíli sighed, eyes drifting shut as he inhaled his brother’s musky scent. It was nice, here in Fíli’s bed: warm and soft and entirely way too comfortable. “I hope Thorin won’t go too hard on you for being late,” he mumbled sleepily.

Fíli pressed a kiss to his temple. “Don’t worry about that. I’m not. Just relax.”

Kíli couldn’t argue with that. So he tightened his hold around Fíli and gave him a kiss of his own, and slowly, they both drifted off to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

The bell above the door rang, and Fíli looked up from his schedule book, only to find himself staring into a set of painfully familiar brown eyes. Calmly, he set the book aside and cleared his throat. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“So what?” Kíli asked from where he was standing near the entrance to Fíli’s Salon & Spa, draped in jewels and a thick, regal robe that somehow didn’t seem to suit him. “I’m going to be the King of Erebor someday, and that means I can do whatever I want.”

Fíli tried not to grimace too openly. “Not exactly,” he chided his younger brother gently. The implication was clear: it was Fíli, after all, who had once been destined to be king. But he had been stripped of all his titles once he had decided to be open about who he really was, and… well.

Now he did hair.

That wasn’t as much of a cliché for Dwarves as it was for Men – in fact, being a hairstylist was considered a highly respectable career, on par with becoming a physician (or even higher, considering Dwarves rarely fell ill). And so it went without saying that Fíli was doing fairly well for himself, despite the scandal that his coming out had caused: he was good at his work, and he now owned one of the most popular establishments in all of Erebor. Best of all, though, he now had the freedom to live exactly as he pleased – and that was a privilege worth more to him than anything.

His one regret was that he couldn’t see his younger brother on a regular basis anymore – and that he had inadvertently saddled Kíli with all of his old responsibilities once he had been kicked out. Fíli was pleased to note, however, that Kíli looked like he was doing well: he was taller now – by quite a lot – and there was a slight furrow between his brows that hadn’t been there before. But aside from that, Kíli looked the same as ever, and Fíli was happy to see that becoming heir to the throne so abruptly hadn’t changed his brother for the worse.

With that thought in mind, Fíli cleared his throat. “What brings you here today?”

Kíli laughed. “Why does anyone come here? I want a haircut,” he retorted. “You accept walk-ins, don’t you?”

In truth, Fíli didn’t; he was popular enough that his clients had to book appointments with him weeks, if not months, in advance. But he figured he could make an exception for his future king. “I suppose. What’ll it be?”

Kíli grinned, a gleam in his eye that reminded Fíli of weekend afternoons filled with mischief and laughter. “I want you to shave it all off. Give me one of those buzz cuts that are so popular with Men right now.”

The burst of nostalgic warmth that had spread throughout Fíli instantly turned cold. “You… want me to what?” He looked over to Kíli again: his long dark hair was perfectly groomed and maintained, held back by a simple hair clip that belied just how important he really was. It wasn’t the most fashionable of hair styles, no - but Kíli still looked good. The thought of cutting that gorgeous mane off, and being the one responsible for doing so, was nearly too much to bear.

“I can’t do that,” Fíli snapped. “Trim? Sure – but I am not giving you a fucking buzz cut!”

Kíli’s shoulders slumped. “Please?”

“No! You – your hair – is too beautiful to just have it all chopped off!”

“I’ll just go to someone else,” Kíli threatened, his chin jutted out with defiance.

“You will not,” Fíli growled, and it was only then that he noticed the way Kíli was fiddling with the edges of his shirtsleeves, same as he had always done when he was uneasy about something. Fíli sighed. “Follow me,” he said, leading his brother further into the salon, “and have a seat.” He indicated one of the styling chairs, all lined up in front of a long row of mirrors.

Kíli’s expression instantly brightened. “You’re going to do it then?”

“Nope,” Fíli said cheerily, draping a dark burgundy nylon cape around Kíli’s front and shoulders (he still had a predilection for his old royal colors, even if they weren’t officially his anymore). “You’re going to talk to me. Which I think is the main reason why a lot of my clients come to see me, actually.” He brushed a strand of hair behind Kíli’s ear, then glanced at his reflection in the mirror. “So. What’s this really all about?”

“Nothing.”

Kíli. Come on, now."

Fíli took out a comb and gently ran it through Kíli’s hair, glancing down periodically to make sure he wasn’t causing any discomfort. “No self-respecting dwarf decides they want to shave off their hair for no good reason. And you’ve never struck me as the sort who particularly admired the fashion trends of Men.” He paused then, thinking back to the time when they had both still lived together. “As I recall, Elvish culture was always more your thing.”

Kíli laughed. "You still think that? I grew out of that ages ago!”

Fíli’s hand paused. “You really have grown up, haven’t you?” he murmured, smiling sadly.

The laughter died on Kíli’s lips; he glanced down again, his expression uneasy. “That’s… actually kind of why I’m here.” He was quiet for a long moment. Just when Fíli thought he wouldn’t say anything more, Kíli took a deep breath and said, “I’m engaged to be married to Mira of the Iron Hills. In a years’ time.”

Fíli blinked. There was a tightness in his chest, familiar and yet wholly new – he had always known there would come a day when Kíli would have to marry, perhaps even to someone he didn’t love - but somehow he still wasn’t prepared to hear the news. Gently, he removed the comb from Kíli’s hair and tried to gather his thoughts. “I had no idea.”

“It hasn’t been announced yet,” Kíli mumbled, a petulant set to his mouth. “They’re arriving in a week. We’ll… we’ll be putting the betrothal braids in each other’s hair, and then…”

“It’ll be official.” Fíli set the comb down and rested his hands on Kíli’s head, lightly massaging his scalp to calm him. Suddenly his brother’s unexpected visit was starting to make a bit more sense. “That’s why you wanted me to shave your hair off, isn’t it?”

Kíli glanced up at him in the mirror, their eyes locking. There was a trace of a mischievous smile on his lips as he nodded his head. “Can’t be official without the betrothal braids, right?”

That wasn’t strictly accurate, Fíli suspected, but it was nevertheless almost completely unheard of to announce an engagement without first participating in the traditional braiding ceremony. Fíli couldn’t stop a small smile of his own from spreading out across his face. “That was clever thinking, brother.”

“Yes, I thought so.” There was a smugness in Kíli’s voice that Fíli secretly found awfully adorable. “So, you’ll help me?”

Fíli hummed thoughtfully, then slowly ran his fingers through Kíli’s hair again, appreciating how the long strands felt between his fingers. “Seems a shame to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do, just to prevent something else you don’t like from happening.” Fíli frowned. “Do you really want to live the rest of your life with a buzz cut?”

Kíli shrugged. “I’d get used to it.”

“The council would find a way around the braiding ceremony, though. I’m sure if it.” Fíli’s expression darkened, and he removed his fingers from Kíli’s hair. “It’s very important to them that you marry and sire an heir, you know.”

“I know,” Kíli whispered. “But I don’t want to.”

“Is there someone else?” The question was soft. “The council might let you choose a different bride, one more to your liking–”

“I don’t want a bride,” Kíli said sharply, and Fíli's stomach did an odd flip as he realized what that had to mean. But he didn't have long to think it over before Kíli was looking at him again, an almost shy look on his face as he said, “I’ve really missed you, you know?”

Fíli took a deep breath, then rested his hands on his brother’s shoulders. It seemed to have a calming effect. “I know.”

“And I really wanted to see you, all this time, but they wouldn’t let me–”

“I know.” Almost without thinking, Fíli pressed his lips to the top of Kíli’s head, just as he had when they were younger. “Really. I've wanted to see you, too.”

A sigh. “So what do I do?”

“Tell the council.” Fíli could feel how Kíli’s shoulders tensed at the very idea. “I don’t see a way out of this unless you do.”

“What, tell them that any marriage they force on me is bound to be fruitless?” Kíli narrowed his eyes. “Like you did?”

“Well, that’s certainly one way of going about it,” Fíli said, smirking.

But Kíli just dropped his gaze. “I’m not brave like you, Fee,” he whispered, the childhood nickname slipping out.

Fíli resisted the urge to turn the chair around so he could reach out to cup Kíli’s face in his hands, maybe thumb away some of the tears that had started collecting at the corners of his eyes. Instead, he just smiled and gave Kíli’s shoulders a firm squeeze. “Now that, brother, isn't true at all - and you know it. You’re the one who defied the council and came all the way here to see me today, aren't you?”

Kíli let out a watery laugh, then smiled back. “Yeah, I suppose I did!”

“So. Believe me when I say everything is going to be all right. I promise.” And with that, Fíli removed his hands and took a step back. “If the worst happens, and the council decides they can’t deal with yet another gay heir to the throne, well." Fíli smiled. "You’ve always got a place here. With me.”

There was a thoughtful look on Kíli’s face as he mulled over Fíli’s offer. And then he laughed. “Is it bad if I’m starting to hope they’ll write me out of the line of succession too?”

Fíli just tousled Kíli’s thick hair again. “Not at all!”

 

Chapter Text

“Kili, I mean this in the politest way possible,” Tauriel started, “but what the fuck are you wearing?”

“You don’t like my sweater?” Kili asked, picking at the gray wool knitting that covered the front of his torso (and not much else). “Fili got it for me.”

“I should have known,” Tauriel said, rolling her eyes. Sadly, she knew all too much about the weird outfits Fili bought for Kili – and that Kili evidently loved to wear for him (such were the downsides of being best friends with a man like Kili – he had a tendency to overshare). However, this was the first time Kili had ever emerged in public while wearing one. “Aren’t you cold?”

“Maybe a little,” Kili admitted, rubbing at his bare shoulders. The sweater was backless, held up with just a knit turtleneck collar around his neck. “But, I’m meeting Fili for dinner tonight, and I thought he might… appreciate seeing me wear this.” He raised his eyebrows suggestively. “If you catch my drift.”

Tauriel just groaned in response to the wolfish grin on Kili’s face. But after a moment of watching Kili squirm in his sweater, she added: “And, uh… how do you feel about this… thing… that Fili gave you?”

Kili’s fidgeting came to a halt, and he was quiet for a moment. It was with a thoughtful look on his face that he finally said, “You know, for a guy as put together as Fili normally is, he has surprisingly shitty taste in clothing for me.”

Tauriel raised an eyebrow. “So you’re not a fan of the sweater?”

“I am not a fan of the sweater,” Kili confirmed. “But, it was a gift from Fili, and I love him, so…” There was a slightly dewy look in his eyes when he added, “I guess, in a way… I kind of love this sweater too.”

Tauriel resisted the urge to make a gagging noise; it really was a bit much, whenever Kili started waxing poetic about his feelings for Fili. If this is love, then I do not want it! she thought to herself as she took in the image of Kili wearing his hideous new sweater one more time. What she said instead was, “I guess you two really are made for each other, aren’t you?”

Kili just smiled one of his ridiculously endearing smiles and wrapped his arms around himself, almost as if to embrace the sweater itself (and, by extension, Fili). “We really are,” he sighed, and it was only with considerable effort that Tauriel managed not to throw up just a little bit in her mouth. “Anyway,” Kili continued, as he stood up and headed for the door, “I believe I have a date to get to!”

“Have fun,” Tauriel called out, trying not to be too blatant as she admired the muscular planes of Kili’s back that were now on full display. (Their relationship may have been platonic, but that didn't mean she couldn't appreciate the view now that the opportunity had presented itself.) “Do me a favor and keep the after-dinner details to yourself, yeah?”

Kili just laughed, and with a taunting shake of his ass, walked out the door.

Chapter Text

Dean had never thought he would sit upon the Iron Throne, but here he was, the jagged metal of the blades at his back nearly imperceptible thanks to his armor. It was meant to be an uncomfortable seat, Dean knew, but under different circumstances it would have been a great honor – an honor far greater than he, a mere member of the Kingsguard, deserved.

That had never been more true than it was now.

The gravity of the situation had yet to sink in, a strange calm washing over him. He watched as the blood dripped from his sword, as the Mad King’s chest rose and fell and then stilled. It was only then that he noticed his own armor and cloak – white, to signify the oath he had taken to protect his king – was now stained, spattered with red. Fitting, he thought.

They would call him Kingslayer, now. Oathbreaker. And, if he lived to see another day – depending on which way the fighting turned – he would never rise above this. Not in Westeros.

The sounds of a commotion, just beyond the throne room, began to draw closer. Dean sat up a little straighter, but did not raise his sword. He nearly breathed a sigh of relief as Ser Aidan of Winterfell strode through the doorway – battle-stained and dirty, but uninjured.

If the enemy had truly won the day, then he could at least say he was glad that Ser Aidan had been the one to find him first.

Dean swallowed, heart leaping in his chest. He hadn’t killed the Mad King for love, to defect and join Ser Aidan’s side of the fighting. Nor had he done it to win Aidan’s favor. But, now that it had been done, he wondered. Wondered if Aidan would think better of him for it. Hoped for it.

Luck was not on Dean’s side this time.

With a quiet gasp, Ser Aidan fell to his knees, and to Dean’s surprise he cradled the Mad King’s face in his hands, looking down on him with something like affection and heartbreak swimming in his eyes. But only for a moment. Soon enough, Aidan was looking up at Dean again, his expression so fierce it nearly rivaled the snarling direwolf that adorned his breastplate.

“What have you done?” Aidan hissed, a single tear rolling down his cheek.

“I did it for Westeros,” Dean murmured.

“You did it for yourself!”

“Perhaps I did it for you.” Dean frowned. “Isn’t this what you wanted? To see the ‘Mad’ King Richard fall?”

“You know nothing, Ser Dean. Nothing at all!” Aidan stood then and reached for his own weapon, a tremor running through him. “Now, rise from the seat you stole, and let us finish this!”

 

Chapter Text

Fili was not one to go rifling through his garbage, but when a small box emblazoned with “PREGNANCY TEST” caught his eye, he had to confess he was slightly perplexed. He certainly had no use for one, and he couldn’t see why his roommate, Kili, would either.

Perhaps, if it had been just an ordinary day, he would have left the thing alone. Perhaps he would have assumed Kili had invited a girl over – not that he thought Kili slept with women, but that still seemed a far more reasonable explanation than the one Fili was currently contemplating.

Because today was not an ordinary day.

In fact, it had started out as the most extraordinary day: Fili had woken up in Kili’s bed, ensconced in the brunet’s muscular arms and feeling pretty damn satisfied with himself. He and Kili had been dancing around each other for months, but finally, they had taken things to the next level.

Unfortunately, the afterglow was short-lived. Kili had woken up, unwrapped his arms from around Fili, and rolled over to the other side of the bed faster than Fili could say, “good morning.”

“Are you all right?” Fili had asked, the bed sheet pooling around his waist as he scrambled to sit up. “What’s wrong?”

Kili just rolled onto his back and covered his face with his hands. “Oh, god.” He took a shuddering breath. “Shit.”

That... was not the sort of response one expected the morning after. Now truly concerned, Fili reached forward. “Kili…?”

“Get out,” Kili snapped, uncovering his face long enough to glare at Fili. Now!”

Fili wasn’t about to argue, not with such a dangerous look in Kili’s eyes. He jumped out of Kili’s bed and began collecting his clothes, scattered in a haphazard pile on the floor - all the while trying to figure out just what he had done wrong.

Fili had been beating himself up about it ever since. Kili was clearly regretting what they had done - though he had seemed enthusiastic enough the night before. To be honest, Fili still wasn’t sure what had come over him – what had come over both of them; Fili had no sooner come home from work than Kili had practically thrown himself at Fili, pinning him against the door and rubbing up against him as if they had both rolled in a pile of sex pollen. And Fili, normally so level headed, hadn’t even thought to question it. But in retrospect, it had been a very strange (though satisfying) encounter.

So Fili's regrets weren’t for his own sake. Still, it didn’t feel great that he and Kili were no longer on the same page. Was Kili embarrassed by how forward he’d been? Had Fili somehow misread the situation? But, no – Fili never did anything without his partner’s explicit consent; he had managed to ask Kili if he was sure, and then if he was OK, multiple times, and Kili had just moaned yessss, Fili, so good, Fili, harder, Fili–!!

And now there was a pregnancy test in his trash can.

Fili frowned and took a closer look at the discarded test stick. There were two lines showing – and a helpful diagram to the left of the results window indicated that meant a positive result.

Apparently someone within the premises was pregnant – and Fili was pretty damn sure it wasn’t him.

 


 

Kili came home not long after, slamming the door behind him, eyes narrowed in what seemed a perpetual glare. Fili had been expecting it – though they had been roommates for only a few months, he’d still lived with Kili long enough to know this was how Kili tended to react when things weren’t going his way. Fili would have normally given him some space to work things out on his own, but, circumstances being what they were, he wasn’t willing to wait this time.

“Is this yours?” Fili asked, feeling slightly ridiculous as he held up the positive test.

Kili’s reaction might have been comical under any other circumstances. His eyes bugged out and he went very pale, and he reached forward to grab the stick from Fili’s hand. “Why were you going through my shit?” Kili demanded, curling his fingers around the results window.

“Kili, you left it right there in plain view! How could I have missed it?”

“Fuck.” Kili ran his free hand through his hair and collapsed onto his favorite armchair with a groan. “I was so pissed, I just threw it in the trash without thinking…”

“Right. Well.” Fili cleared his throat. “If I may ask… why, exactly, did you feel the need to take a pregnancy test?”

Kili squirmed in his seat. “You’re not going to believe me.”

“Try me.” Fili sighed and bit his lip. “Do you… regret last night? Is that what this is?”

“No!” Kili practically shouted it, his cheeks slightly flushed. “That’s not it at all!” He took a moment to calm himself, looking down at the test in his hands. “But it still shouldn’t have happened.”

“Why?”

Kili grimaced. “That’s the part you’re not going to believe.”

“I think I already have an inkling,” Fili said, nodding over at the positive test. “But, aside from the obvious question… it hasn’t even been 24 hours yet. I don’t think you can get a result that soon.”

“Omegas can,” Kili insisted, a strange note of pride in his voice, though his cheeks were now an even deeper pink. “It’s immediate, and I already had a feeling, right after you came–”

“A feeling,” Fili deadpanned.

Kili nodded his head. “I always thought it was an old wives’ tale, but I just… knew. And the test confirmed it.”

Fili was still pretty sure that science didn’t work like that, but he decided to keep the thought to himself until he had the full story. “What’s an omega?” he asked, in a voice far calmer than he actually felt. “That is what you just called yourself, right?”

Kili cringed. “Well, that’s… the other part you’re not going to believe.”

Fili raised an eyebrow. “More unbelievable than you, a seemingly cisgender man, being pregnant?”

“That’s not unusual, where I’m from!”

“I’m pretty sure I would have heard about it by now if that were a thing.”

“And you don’t know everything!” Kili exploded, standing up. “For one thing, I’m not really from Arendelle – which isn’t a real country, by the way!”

Fili bristled a bit; he knew geography wasn’t his strong suit, but he had been sure that was a region somewhere up in Norway.

“I’m from the Kingdom of Abo,” Kili continued, “and yeah, you’ve never heard of it – because it doesn’t exist here. I’m lost, I fell through a– a wormhole or something, and I keep trying, but I can’t figure out how to go back home.” Some of Kili’s anger seemed to dissipate at that; his shoulders slumped, and suddenly he looked very small. “And now you’ve knocked me up. And no one knows how to deal with that here.” Kili practically fell back into his chair. “Could this get any better?”

It did sound pretty bad. Fake… but bad. Still, Kili at least seemed to believe what he was saying, which left Fili at a loss for what to say or think.

“What are you going to do?” Fili finally asked, his mouth dry. As a gay man, this just wasn’t a conversation he had ever expected to have. “I’ll… I’ll support whatever you decide.”

Kili snorted. “What choice do I have? No abortion clinic, and no OB-GYN, is going to know what to do with me.” He took a deep breath and set his jaw. “I’ll just have to ride it out and hope for the best.”

He’s trying so hard to be brave.

That much was clear. And suddenly Fili didn’t give much of a shit whether or not Kili was making sense; he was scared, and Fili had to do something.

“That’s not good enough,” Fili said quietly, and stood up.

Kili gave him an uncertain look. “What do you mean?”

Fili knelt down next to the armchair and took Kili’s hand. He was relieved when Kili didn’t push him away. “If what you’re saying is true… you can’t do something like this all on your own. You need help.”

“No one here can help me,” Kili muttered, glancing down.

“So then we’ve got to find a way to get you back home.”

Now Kili was looking at him again, his lips curled upwards in a strange smile. “‘We’? You actually believe all this?”

“Not exactly,” Fili said honestly. “Or, at least, not yet. But that’s not the point.” He gave Kili’s hand a gentle squeeze. “You’re clearly upset about something, and that means I want to help you.”

Kili’s eyes were swimming. He reached forward and pulled Fili in for a crushing kiss. “You are the sweetest alpha I’ve ever met,” he whispered, “and I’m so lucky I’ve bonded myself to you!”

Fili pulled back with a gasp. “Wait… what?!”