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Keep Careful Watch O'er My Brother's Soul

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Protect your brother.

The words are a mantra spoken to him since Kili's birth, a phrase ingrained into every fiber of his breathing. Protect your brother.

Dis' second birth is a difficult one, made more so by her husband's recent passing and Thorin's inexplicable absence. Fili waits outside her room for hours before Oin comes out and passes Fili a small bundle. "Take care of him, lad," the gruff healer says, before disappearing back into the birthing room and shutting the door firmly behind him. Fili stares at the closed door for a moment, listening to the muted groans of pain his mother is emitting. Only movement from the weight in his arms draws his gaze downward. Fili stares in wonder as the blanket moves aside enough to reveal the forehead and one large, brown eye of the baby - his new brother.

Acting on the instructions that his mother had drilled into him several weeks ago, Fili takes the newborn to the nursery that is set up down the hall of their small home. He very carefully climbs up into the big rocking chair and pumps his feet backward and forward to get the chair to move. His eyes are on the baby's face, and he feels a small flicker of pride when that eye gently closes. Meanwhile, one chubby arm has freed itself from the blanket, and before Fili can put it back, it grasps a strand of his golden hair, clenching tight. Fili bows low over his little brother so that the hand will not tug, and begins humming his favorite lullaby, all the while rocking the child in his arms to sleep.

Protect your brother.

Some of the Dwarflings in Ered Luin make fun of Kili for being small, and though his status should protect him, they either do not know or do not care enough to stop. "Elf," they call him, due to his size and tree-climbing abilities. Sometimes Kili comes home dirty and bruised, though there are many times when Fili will find Kili high up in a tree, his attackers long gone.

Fili takes it upon himself to go with Kili whenever he leaves the house. Kili often grumbles, but his usual attackers keep a careful distance away from the stern glare of the elder prince of Durin. Fili is much stronger than Kili or any of his bullies, and he will fight like a caged cougar if anyone tries to outnumber him. The Dwarflings soon learn that trying to get to Kili is not worth the effort.

Protect your brother.

Due to the winter weather, Dis had ordered the brothers to stay inside. A week of being cooped up had bored both of them, and so, naturally, they had snuck out when the weather had turned nice. Kili had wanted to practice his archery skills, and Fili had wanted to go to watch and make sure Kili would not shoot himself (it has, believe it or not, happened before).

Unfortunately, neither brother had anticipated the unpredictability of winter weather. Soon a blizzard had pulled in, and they had found themselves trapped with no way of knowing which direction was up or down.

Fili takes Kili by the hand to assure both himself and his brother of each other's presence. He pulls Kili along towards what he believes may be suitable for a hollow shelter. Luckily, his sense of direction proves him right (much better than Uncle Thorin), and they find themselves huddling beneath a hollow in a sturdy boulder, the wind thankfully positioned so that they are protected from it.

Fili orders Kili to take off his outer layers. They wrap their cloaks and tunics around the both of them, pressed together as close as possible to conserve warmth. Fili holds Kili to his chest and puts his head on top of his brother's, trying to protect him from the draft that manages to enter their small cave. All night they stay there, in the cold and dark, shivering, and Fili keeps his eye trained on the entrance to their cave, waiting for the sun to rise.

When it finally does, Fili unwraps his stiff arms from around Kili and gently shakes his brother awake. Kili is slow to rise, but Fili pushes at him again and again, shaking his own limbs out in an attempt to dispel the cold numbness that has settled in his bones. Finally, they exit the cave and blink in the bright morning sunlight. Everything around them is covered in soft, sparkling white, and the outline of Thorin's Hall can be seen in the distance. Fili pulls his brother along, seeking the sight and the thought of warm blankets and hot drinks.

He is laid up for more than a week after that, and suffers his mother's scolding for more than a fortnight afterwards, but Kili had gotten little more than a stuffy nose and a chill, so Fili knows he did his job.

Protect your brother.

Kili is wounded, badly. Dark blood congeals around the half-buried Orcish arrow in his knee; his face is pale, and quickly turning grey. By the time they are ready to leave Laketown, he is swaying and stumbling with every step. Fili pretends not to see it, and he assumes Thorin will do the same. Instead, Thorin forces Kili to remain behind, and no amount of arguing will convince him otherwise.

"Fili, no. You belong with the Company." These are the words that Thorin says as he tries to hold Fili back. Protect your brother.

"I belong with my brother," he corrects, and goes to Kili without glancing back.

Protect your brother.

Thorin could only have gone on for so long before Kili would have snapped. And snap he did, jumping over the wall with the intent of going into battle. Fili had given him a silent signal, and resolves himself to arguing with the Company. He will talk himself hoarse if it means they will come with him.

As it is, such measures are not necessary. Dwalin hefts his axe, and Fili remember that Kili is not only his to protect, but many others' as well: Balin and Dwalin and Gloin and Oin and, when he is in his right mind, Thorin. Within the minute, Fili is on the battlefield, hacking and slashing next to his little brother, determined not to let a single blow through.

Protect your brother.

Thorin had fallen, spending too much time staring at the Pale Orc's now-motionless body. By the time Fili had seen the Orc that would bring about his uncle's ultimate doom, Thorin was already falling to his knees. "NO!" Fili cries, and Kili whips around at his brother's voice. Kili shouts as well before charging to Thorin's fallen form and burying his sword in the Orc's back. Fili is right behind him, taking out another of the ugly creatures.

They hack and slash, duck and dive, skid and parry and block. A small mountain of Orcs piles around them, but they do not stop. Thorin looks dead, but Fili will not leave him, will not take the chance that he could be alive. Instead he moves fluidly, knowing Kili's moves inside and out and adjusting to accommodate them, and Kili does the same. They look like one creature, four-armed and four-legged and very, very angry.

For one second, Fili feels as if he is moving at a snail's pace. Everything around him sharpens into harsh definition: the smell of sweat and blood and dirt, the individual spots on the Orc's face in front of him, the sounds of the dead and dying - and, most notably, most horrifically, the sound of metal hitting and slicing through metal, and the following squelch as it drives through flesh. Fili's head turns to see Kili slowly lean back, surprise on his face as his hand automatically reaches for the sword in his stomach.

Then everything is fast again. Fili pulls the sword out of the first Orc and swings it around with such force that the second Orc's head goes flying after he cuts it off. In the blink of an eye he is facing his brother again, eyes and ears tuned to any other Orc's approach. He drops his weapon as Kili stumbles backward, his hand letting go of the blade in his gut. Fili catches his brother and lowers him the rest of the way to the ground, following him and kneeling while supporting Kili's torso in his arms. The bodies of Orcs partially shield them as Fili brings his forehead to Kili's.

"You'll be alright, I promise," Fili says ardently, stroking his brother's cheek. Kili brings up a shaking hand to Fili's face - his whole body is shaking, and he does not seem to be breathing. His eyes are not frightened, but soft, as if knowing that Fili will blame himself for this. Then, without saying anything, the weight of his head increases in Fili's hand. Fili watches in horror as something disappears in Kili's gaze, leaving the eyes flat and darkened.

"No," he whispers shakily, fingers lightly brushing against Kili's face. "No, you can't do this. You can't do this to me. Please, Kili, please wake up. Please say something."

But Kil does not move, and Fili gently lowers his body to the ground. He grasps his sword and rises slowly, his whole body shaking and tears streaming from his eyes. He climbs atop the pile of corpses and cuts the head off of one, throwing it in the direction of the monsters that surround him. They turn in the direction of the throw, seeing a golden-haired prince with blazing blue eyes stand atop their dead.

"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS! DO YOU HEAR ME, MORIA SCUM?" Fili screams, swinging his sword as Orcs rush at him, snarling. He holds them off for a few seconds before they overwhelm him. Then he falls, his eyes resting on Kili's pale face and unseeing eyes.

Protect your brother.

He had tried. Mahal knows he had tried.