An Immediate Response (2/2) - fanfiction
Kili worries that Thorin won't permit him to join the Quest, so he hatches a daring plan. Fili doesn't approve, and makes his displeasure known in a way his little brother never anticipated.
Part One is here
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended. I don’t own Tolkien’s original characters, however, my OC’s, Gwinthorian, Garrick, Devon and several other Rangers are exclusively my own.
An Immediate Response (2/2)
He stared at me. "What?" he whispered.
"I'm going to spank you."
He paused, studying me, then he sniffed and grinned and said, "You're jesting."
"Do I look like I'm jesting?"
"Whether you look it or not, you aren't really--"
"I'm serious, Kili. I intend to do it."
He sobered at once. "No," he breathed. "You - You can't!"
"I can and I shall, little brother," I replied.
He shot to his feet and moved away. "But - But why? Why can't we just go home and forget about it?"
"You haven't been listening."
"I have!" he cried. "I heard everything you said."
"Good. Then you understand how serious this is and why we can't just forget about it."
"Because you say so?"
Fists clenched at his sides, he glared at me with huge eyes and jittery apprehension. It seemed he didn't know what to do with himself and he was trying to work out what was happening and what to say to me to make me change my mind. He gave his head a few short jerky shakes and grumbled, "No, Fili. No. I won't allow it."
I sighed, quieting my impatience. It didn't help to become irritated with Kili when he was in this state. He might know he was in the wrong, but all he could think about right now was defending himself. One antagonized princeling was enough. So I did what I always did when dealing with my bristling little brother. Keeping my tone low and calm, I said, "Very well. I say that Thorin will agree that you did something dangerous and life-threatening, but if you doubt that we can wait to hear what he says tomorrow. I'll just take you home and Thorin can deal with you as he sees fit."
He swallowed hard, nervously shifting. "You mean, either you spank me now or you'll tell Uncle what I did and he'll spank me."
"No, I intend to tell Thorin what you did whether I spank you now or not."
He looked baffled and increasingly desperate. "So you are indeed telling him."
"Then why should I let you--"
"Spank you now?" He nodded. "Because Thorin won't discipline you if I take care of it."
"What makes you think that?"
"Because you'll show him the evidence of how thorough I've been."
"You expect me to drop my trousers and show him my backside?"
"It isn't as if he hasn't seen your bare bottom plenty of times."
Of course, this would be a new humiliation and even in the low firelight I could see that Kili had gone scarlet. "But . . . But if you spank me now he won't be able to tell by tomorrow--"
"That's why I'm going to spank you again before we see him."
Kili stared at me, horrified. "No," he said on a low breath.
"I shall spank you before we set out in the morning and I plan to spank you every other night for a week."
He shook his head again. "Fili! No!"
I returned his stare. "Yes, little brother. Every other night this week you shall go over my knee." Thorin had done this to us in the past, but he reserved it for our worst offenses.
"You have needlessly endangered your lives," he told us the first time we'd faced this ultimate consequence for our actions. "One spanking is not enough."
Kili and I had protested that one spanking a piece would do us very nicely, thank you, but Thorin held a different opinion - "Mine is the only vote that carries weight." At the end of that week Kili and I had vowed to never, ever again do something that endangered our lives. Not that we held to our vow.
"But if you spank me again tomorrow that'll make it two days in a row," he argued on. "Why not skip tonight and just wait until morning?"
"Because I don't want to. And yes; that will make it two days in a row. So, if you've nothing else . . .."
I watched Kili stare at the fire. I could almost hear him thinking, seeking some way 'round this, trying to find a reason to claim that it was bad form for an older brother to discipline a younger brother with whom he had ever been a co-conspirator in a lifetime of roguishness, wondering how I could do this to him. But he couldn't work it out, especially when he was so overwrought. His temper was fraying. It always did when he was too flustered to make sense out of what was happening. After a few minutes of thinking and fist squeezing, all he managed to come up with was a stream of utter rubbish grated out in under-his-breath angry tones:
"It's just not right, Fili. It's not right for you to spank me. Not you. And you don't have to tell uncle. It can just be our secret. I said I was sorry and I promise I won't do it again. Or anything else dangerous. And I promise I won't run away from you ever, ever again. Promise." He looked up at me, eyes full of anxiousness and indignation. "So let it go. If you care about me, you'll just let it go."
Most of that was empty pretense, Kili saying what he thought I wanted to hear. We'd said similar things to Thorin on occasion, even though we doubted it would do any good. But Kili's final words - "So let it go. If you care about me, you'll just let it go." - lay heavily in the air. We'd never said such things to Thorin.
"I am ever on your side, little brother, and I do care about you," I said. "I care about you too much to just let it go."
I slowly stood, reached in my haversack, grabbed a blanket and tossed it on the log's rough bark. Kili stared at me. He could say nothing further. Moving closer to him I took his hand and led him the few steps back to the log. He didn't fight me. Not knowing where his dread was likely to lead him, I'd been prepared to face a possibly combative little brother. However, Kili had sent me a strong signal. I felt certain he hadn't realized what he was doing, but he'd babbled his utter rubbish knowing I would see it for what it was and knowing I wouldn't stomach it. He'd evidently accepted the fact that he was between a rock and a hard place and there was nothing he could do about it.
Drawing him over to the log, I sat down, pulled him between my knees and put my hands on his hips, seeking the waist of his trousers.
"Can't you leave them on?" Kili said in a pleading voice.
I looked up at him and raised a brow. I'd seen Kili spanked more often than I could count, but I suppose I could understand his odd request. The notion of being over my knee bare bottomed was utterly undoing him. I cocked a half grin, because my little brother was too adorable, then I pulled him to my side and turned Kili over my knee. He wriggled and grabbed the balled-up blanket to his chest whilst I situated him properly, something Thorin had mastered with us over the years. He could flip one of us over his knee and settle us in seconds. Thorin was bigger than me, but Kili fit over my lap perfectly. I liked how his solid weight felt across my thighs. I could find his waist easier now so I grabbed the cloth in one fist and dragged his trousers down his legs. Kili gasped.
"I don't know if you recall what Thorin said the first time I asked him that," I said, pushing his trousers further down his legs. "We were but beardlings. You were sitting across from us, waiting your turn, and I asked if he could spank me with my trousers on. Do you remember what he said, little brother?" Kili huffed and grumbled low in his throat, face buried in the blanket. "I'll take that as a 'no' then," I went on. "Uncle said, 'I do not spank trousers. I spank naughty little bottoms.'"
Kili groaned and I had to grin. Then I paused and sobered and simply looked at him lying there, and I suddenly realized why Thorin always took a moment like this before he started spanking us. I used to watch him just gazing down at Kili stretched out over his lap, sometimes petting his hair or his backside, and I had to do the same. I had to touch his tousled locks and rest my hand on his bottom. I had to feel him lying there. He wasn't being torn to ribbons by some horrible beastie in that dark Forbidden Valley forest. He wasn't being tortured or used or murdered. My beloved little brother was here with me, safe over my lap. Something shimmered through me, a feeling of satisfaction.
Then that fire re-ignited in my belly. I could have lost him. I came so close to losing him. And suddenly it didn't matter if he'd reckoned I'd go easier on him than Thorin would. I knew he thought that. No matter. I intended to quiet that fire within me, so I rested my forearm over his back and I raised my hand over his bottom.
I reckoned Fili wouldn't spank me as hard as Thorin would, but after the first few swats I reared up and yelled, "OWW! Too hard!"
He snorted and kept spanking. "Well, that didn't take long."
"Fili, that's really tooooo harrrd!"
"No, it isn't."
"It is!" I started struggling. "Lemme go! I'll take my chances with Thorin!"
"At least he knows what he's doing!" I cried out, reaching back to cover my backside.
Fili stopped spanking and I breathed a sigh of relief. But he didn't let me up. He shifted me and locked me down between his legs, my bottom tipped over his left thigh and my legs trapped. I felt a flash of panic. Thorin knew how much I hated being restrained so he didn't do it. I couldn't stop a low cry of fright and I grabbed the blanket with both arms and held on tight.
"Ah. Sorry, little brother," Fili said and he picked me up and stretched me flat over his knees again. "I forgot how much you hate that. Now, do I need to hold your arm, or can you behave yourself?"
"Fili!" I yelled. "Stop it!"
"That's another 'no' then?" He whacked down again and my backside burst with heat.
"I'll trust you for now. But, mark me, Kili, if that hand comes 'round to block my spanks I'll fasten it behind your back the way Thorin does."
"But you're spanking toooooooo harrrrrrrrd!"
"The better to get your attention, little brother."
I huffed and yelled, "What makes you think you didn't already have my attention?"
He actually snorted a small chuckle. "Simply following Thorin's good example," he said. "He starts off strong then eases back."
I grunted at the next stinging swat. "It's time to ease back!"
Another snorted chuckle. "As you told me last night, that's not your decision to make."
"Hush," he said with an extra hard smack. "You have no say in this."
"You - You--!" I paused to think of what foul name to call him.
"Word of caution, little brother: If you wouldn't say it to Thorin, don't say it to me."
"But you and I curse all the time!"
"Aye, but you won't do it when you're over my knee."
I muttered a curse into the blanket. What had I agreed to? This wasn't Fili. I didn't know who this Thorin-like person was, but a sudden fear shot through me. But . . . no. This was Fili and I didn't fear my brother. I didn't like it when he was unhappy with me, but I didn't fear him. I never thought he'd do this, though. He was my partner in roguery. He wasn't supposed to spank. And Fili didn't know how to do it! His swats stung as badly as Uncle's did - worse. And he didn't listen to me when I told him I'd changed my mind. Thorin didn't either, but this was my brother and he knows what a spanking feels like and yet I couldn't get him to listen to me or let me up. I couldn't make him stop.
I'm not good at negotiating. Fili does that for us. He doesn't yell like I do. I get impatient and he can see me tightening up and he knows what to say to whomever is challenging us. Never works with Uncle, yet Fili gives things a great try. But right now I was the only one to speak for myself and I didn't know what to say or do. I had to try reasoning with him, though, if I was ever going to sit a horse tomorrow. Reasoning wasn't my finest skill.
"Fili, please," I said, impressed with my calm voice. Not so easy when my backside was under Fili attack. "Please, let's talk about this."
"When I say so," he replied. "Until then--" And he tilted up his knee and began spanking that tender place that would really hurt when sitting in the saddle, or anywhere else for that matter. I cried out and arched.
"I repeat," he said. "Hush."
Hush? Again he wanted me to hush. Very well. I hugged the blanket and bit my lip and did as Fili said. I didn't cry out. I wanted to, but I didn't.
"Stop that." he said with another hard whack. "Stop biting your lip."
"How-How did you--"
"Know? Kili. I've watched you getting spanked how many times? I've seen what you're doing when you stop making any kind of sound. Uncle won't stand for it and neither will I. So I'll add to my first warning: If Thorin's told you not to do it, don't do it with me."
I lay there, not biting and not talking back and wincing with every hot, stinging blow. I thought to ask him if he objected to wincing but Fili clearly wasn't in a jesting mood and I was eager to cooperate in the hopes that he'd ease back. It worked. He lowered his knee and began spanking me at a more normal strength and pace. Didn't matter. I was already tender and he hadn't been at this all that long. I reckoned it was best to just give in and do what he wanted. And I quickly realized that my big brother actually was good at this. Aye, woefully good at this.
I still wanted to get really, really angry. I wanted to fight my way clear of his lap, stand up and tell him I'd had enough and he had no business treating me this way. Another part of me still couldn't believe he was spanking me. Fili. Spanking me. It didn't seem real, even though I felt every burning swat and knew that there was no mistaking how real it was. I kept expecting him to stop and roll me off his lap and laugh and tell me to consider myself warned. I'd growl, then we'd forget the whole thing and ride back tomorrow and Thorin would be none the wiser. I started imagining what my brother would then say:
"I wasn't serious about spanking you every other day for a week, Kili. And don't worry; I won't tell Thorin what you did."
I kept waiting for that to happen, hoping he was finished playing at being Thorin. Fili wasn't slowing though. In fact there was a force and steadiness to his style that was just plain Uncle-like.
He'd been acting Uncle-like since he found me. I'd turned and watched him riding towards me and I could tell by his bearing alone that he wasn't happy with me. Then he came closer and I saw his dark 'I'm vexed with you' scowl and I'd thought it best to pretend that I reckoned he'd decided to join me. Maybe it would sway him, ease his furrowed brow and stern frown. Usually I could jolly my older brother out of a huff. It wasn't the best tactic today.
"I know what you're doing, Kili," he interrupted my thoughts with maddening calm.
"What I'm doing?" I muttered. "I'm holding my tongue and not biting."
"You're also thinking yourself away from your spanking."
Of course he'd figure that out. He'd done it often enough himself. Hard to resist trying to pull away from the heat and the sting. Fili knew how tempting that was. He usually gave in to mind-wandering, too, and when he did, Thorin knew.
"With me, little beardling," Uncle had said the last time Fili and I were getting spankings.
Fili, who was usually restrained enough to not argue when Thorin was walloping him, sincerely lost that restraint. When his temper gives way my brother does it right.
"I'm right here!" he bellowed. "Where the blazes do you think I am?"
If he'd actually said "blazes," Fili might have avoided getting his mouth washed out with soap. But he'd substituted a right crude Khuzdûl word. I saw Thorin's brows shoot up and I'd cringed for my big brother. I'd cringed again when Uncle passed sentence.
"It's been a while since you requested a soaping," he'd told Fili. "Happy to oblige."
"Am I not being entertaining enough?" my brother suddenly asked.
Another sincere spank sent shivers up my spine. Did he really expect an answer to that question?
"You're right," Fili said. "That's a Thorin question. No real answer."
I lifted my head, feeling the first sting of tears. I didn't want to cry. I didn't. But my backside was already smarting something fierce and Fili showed no signs of slowing. I still couldn't believe he was doing this to me. I'd been trying to behave the way Fili always did during a spanking. I never lasted long when Thorin was spanking me. My brother was the one who held back. For some reason I couldn't fathom he refused to crumble until his bottom was so red I could scarce stand to look at it. It was hard to watch what Fili put himself through. It hurt me to see him invite more spanking when I knew how much his backside had to be hurting. It even angered me sometimes.
"Is there some reason you hold out?" I'd once asked him the day after we'd been spanked. I'd hated watching it. I'd lay there on my stomach, bottom burning, frustrated with Fili, silently begging him to, for mercy's sake, just let go and cry. "It makes no sense," I'd snarled on. "You gain nothing from it, and you know that Uncle won't stop until you break down. So why, Fili? Why are you so stubborn?"
He'd turned and watched me in that gentle, sad way he sometimes does when he's hearing not only what I've said, but what I haven't known how to say. "It isn't stubbornness, little brother," he said in a soft tone. "I'm sorry it's so hard to watch, though."
There was something that drove Fili to invite more spanking and I just couldn't reason it out. But, hard as it was to watch, I did. He always waited nobly through my spanking. I didn't need to look over and see him there. I felt him watching me, and it helped. It was almost like hearing him say, "I'm with you, little brother. I'm here." the way he did after I'd been spanked and he was comforting me. So unless Thorin spanked me first and wore me out so much that I couldn't keep from dozing, I would stay loyal and pay attention while Fili was getting spanked, too. I wasn't that stalwart, though. I was as brave as my brother in all other areas, but when Thorin was spanking me I couldn't match Fili's fortitude.
And now I could no longer hold back my tears. They silently trickled down my face. But I couldn't let go and wail the way I wanted to. This was Fili spanking me, not Thorin, and I couldn't . . . I just couldn't--
And just then I heard Fili's calm, soothing voice:
"Kili. Come back to me. It's alright. I'm with you, little brother. I'm here."
Kili burst into tears followed by loud, noisy wails. He broke down quickly when Thorin spanked him, but he'd lasted longer with me. I shouldn't have expected him to act the way he did with our uncle. We were both feeling our way through new territory. By the end of the week we'd have mastered this newness between us.
I felt for him, though. He was fighting to hold back, trying to escape by thinking, the way I always did when Thorin spanked me. Thorin would patiently wait me out, spanking me until I could do nothing but give in. So I let Kili mind-wander until his body grew more and more taut and his breath came in short ragged bursts and then I had to do something, say something. I didn't want to scold him. Instead I murmured the only thing that came to mind, the only thing that might let him know I understood his struggles and that it was alright.
That was it. The tension in his body gave way so suddenly that he quivered and broke into loud wails and tears. And I suddenly remembered that I did the same thing when Thorin spanked me. I broke down when he said something gentle, especially if he called me by his special name, 'little beardling.' I knew he didn't say it simply to make me break down, just as I hadn't said what I did just to get Kili to cry. But I knew how I felt when Thorin would say such things to me at a moment when I had little endurance left. I felt as though he'd put his arms around me and held me in his lap as he had when I was little and crying. I felt he understood my distress. And it didn't matter that he was the one causing my distress with his relentless spanking. It mattered that my uncle cared, that he saw my sorrow and was trying to soothe it. He even understood that I'd been refusing to give in because I felt guilty and wanted to suffer more by inviting a longer spanking, something I'd never confessed to Kili. It would've only made him angry or sad or both.
My brother was now wriggling around and giving his first kicks, his body taut. So odd being the one causing that, to see it from this position as he did it. When he once again threw his arm behind him to shield his now reddening bottom with his hand I paused and said, "Kili."
"This will not do, little brother."
"Nooooo! N-No more!"
"What did I tell you about your hand? Move it or I'll move it for you and hold it behind your back."
"But Fili! H-Hurrrrrts!"
"Shall I count for you?"
Thorin rarely had to count in order to make us obey. He had when we were little, though, and I suspected that bringing it up now would push Kili into an even littler state of mind than he was already feeling. He froze, thinking, then barked, "NO! N-No counting, big bruver! Don't you count!"
I couldn't help a quick grin at his reduced speech, then I shoved his arm away and swatted down hard, making him arch and howl. "That's a lot of sass coming from someone with such a sore bottom. I might not be Thorin, but I am your big brother, and while I have you over my knee you'll show me due respect and mind your sharp tongue." I swatted hard again and Kili howled again. "Understand?"
"Uh-huh," he blurted out quickly. "Unnerstand. S-Sorry. Sor-ry, Fee."
Ahh. He couldn't wrap his tongue 'round my name. We were already entering his 'little laddie' place. That was fast. Much faster than when Thorin spanked him.
"Shhh; it's alright," I said. He seemed to melt a bit, so I rubbed his reddening bottom and he hugged the blanket closer and rubbed his face into it.
"Y-You done, now?" he asked in a hopeful tone.
I snorted and patted his backside. "Not yet," I said.
He whined into the blanket, then he raised his head and looked over his shoulder at me, his big dark eyes shiny with tears. "P-Please be done, Fee. Please no more. I'm sorry. Lots sorry."
I reached over and brushed the stray locks from his face. "What are you sorry for?" I asked.
I raised a brow. Bit comprehensive and vague. Thorin would've never let Kili get away with such an answer. Of course there was rarely any question as to what we were sorry for, so Thorin made us save our sorries for the end of the spanking. Ah, well.
"I think you're sorry I caught you," I said.
He looked lost for a moment, then he nodded swiftly, his dark hair flying about. "Uh huh."
My fault that. Badly worded. Of course he was sorry he'd been caught. "I mean, I don't think you're sorry about what you did. You're sorry you were caught."
He hesitated and gazed at me, thinking. But Kili's ability to reason was starting to suffer. I knew the feeling. I became the same way when Thorin had been spanking me for awhile. I heard mispronounced words coming out of my mouth that surprised and embarrassed me. Kili couldn't quite work out what was the best answer to give, what I wanted to hear in order to stop spanking him. Failing to figure that out, he had little choice left but to tell the truth.
Well, he'd been honest. I gave him credit for that. I'd hoped to hear him say something like, "No, Fee. I'm sorry about what I did," but Kili just wasn't there yet. I nodded to myself, pulled him closer and started spanking him again.
"It's alright, little brother. You need more time to think things over."
"No! I don't!"
"Mmm," I hummed, then I simply spanked him for awhile. I knew he would need help working things out, especially in his current state, but he'd be more able to hear me when his bottom was a bit hotter. So I carried on, spanking him with a steady, firm hand, much to my wailing little brother's dismay.
I wasn't concerned. Kili sounded the way he always did when he was stretched out over Thorin's knee. Unlike my stubborn self who would refuse to crumble, Kili made a lot of noise when being spanked. Not that I enjoyed his upset, but hearing his loud cries and sobbing was reassuring. I was familiar with how Kili sounded when being spanked. I just wasn't used to spanking him myself and I didn't want to do too much or too little. But I felt at ease spanking him. Thorin was astute. It seemed that nothing we did slipped past him, but if Kili behaved dangerously and Thorin hadn't caught it, or if he was unavailable, I'd have no trouble taking my brother over my knee again.
I was a bit concerned for myself, though. I wasn't sure how my uncle would feel about me taking matters into my own hands instead of bringing Kili home for him to deal with. Tomorrow I could very well find myself with a scalded bottom as well. But something told me that Thorin would see this as I did. He'd understand that it was a matter requiring an immediate response. Not for Kili's sake, but for mine. And that was valid. Having been in many a situation wherein Thorin had plainly felt the need for an immediate response himself, I didn't think he'd mind me doing the same. Hopefully.
"AHHHH! Stop pleeeeeease!" Kili wailed.
His backside had become a nice shade of red. Thorin usually had it redder before he stopped, so I knew Kili could bear more, but his voice held that desperate throb. He could hear me now. He'd be willing to let me help him work things out.
I stopped spanking him, rested my hand on his bottom and thought over how Thorin did this . . .. He questioned us, starting by asking why we'd done what we'd done. That sounded good to me, but first I needed to quiet Kili a bit so that he could work with me.
"Shhhhh. Breathe, little brother," I murmured. I smoothed my palm over his head and raked my fingers through his tangled locks, petting him and waiting. Kili collapsed. He'd started out weeping into his open palms, but now he'd buried his face in the blanket, clutching and squeezing the cloth in his fists. "You're doing so well," I said, knowing how soothing some praise would sound. "You haven't tried to cover your bottom again. I'm proud of you."
"No." Kili shook his head. "N-No you're n-not."
That startled me. "Why do you say that?"
"Acause you're mad at m-me."
We were back to this. Very well. He needed reassurance and I was more than happy to give it to him. "No, little brother," I said. "I'm not mad at you. I'm unhappy about what you did. Remember?"
He paused, turning his head to the side. "Uh huh. I 'member. B-But . . . you're still not mad, Fee?"
I leaned over to catch his eye and winked at him. "I'm still not mad. I never was mad at you, Kili. Big brothers don't get mad at little brothers. They love their little brothers."
He hesitated, then: "No matter w-what liddle bruvers do?"
"No matter what."
He blushed, lowered his gaze, and said in a sulky tone, "Do big bruvers spank little bruvers?"
I barked a quick laugh. Kili. Ever cheeky, even with a burning backside. I straightened and swatted down hard.
"This big brother does." I swatted hard again.
He arched and wailed. "AHH! Feeee!"
"I spanked you because I love you," I said. "And because you endangered your life."
He thought that over for a moment. "Like Uncle s-spanks us."
I grinned at him again. "Aye. He doesn't say as much, but we know the reason he spanks us. He cares about us. If he didn't care he wouldn't bother disciplining us. So why am I spanking you, Kili?"
"'Cause you love me."
I grinned. "Aye. And why else? What did you do to land you over my lap?"
"I ranned away from you and left home and came to the Forbidden V-Valley."
I nodded. "Even though I told you not to do it."
"Your not a-posed to tell me I'm not allowed to do somethin', Fee."
"I'm allowed when you're about to do something that threatens your life."
He squeezed his eyes shut, his face and body tightened up, and he said, "But . . . B-But, Fee . . .."
"Shhh," I murmured, surprised by how instantly distressed he was. "Shh. It's alright. You're doing fine. Take your time, little brother. I'm not going anywhere."
Kili tensed, then he burst into short heaving sobs. "Yes, you will!"
I knit my brow. "Kili--"
"You'll leave me, go with Un-cle. You will!"
He was panicking. I couldn't bear this. I picked him up and gathered him in my arms. "Shhh, little brother. Shhhh," I purred in his ear. Kili trembled all over and wrapped his arms around my shoulders, holding on with a desperate grasp as though afraid to let go, afraid I was already leaving him. He had never behaved like this with Thorin. I held Kili close and rocked him, comforting him the way I often did after Thorin had spanked him and he was alone in his room. "Shhhhh. I've got you. It's alright."
"No, it's not! You'll go without m-me! Un-Uncle don't want me! N-Not good 'nuff for him!"
"That isn't true, Kili. You're every bit the warrior I am and Thorin knows it. You're better than me, in fact. No one has your skill with a bow. Certainly not me. You're an asset to any party of warriors." Kili seemed to hear that. His frenzy lessened. He coughed and hiccuped and his loud crying eased back to a quieter weeping.
"I'm t-too little. Not old 'nuff to go."
He had me there. He sounded quite little at the moment. The truth was that at seventy-seven Kili truly was young. "That doesn't matter," I said.
"It madders t-to Thorin."
"He's likely considered it, but I don't think--"
"It's why he said n-no."
"He hasn't said no."
"He d-din't said yes. I'm not valu-bul. Not like y-you. Not l-like his heir. You're 'mportant to him. I'm not."
Shocking to hear my confident little brother talking like this, thinking he had so little value. Before I could answer him he surprised me yet again: "If Un-cle let me go, too, and I gotted hurt, he would leave me behind. Leave me with s-some farmer and go on."
I swallowed my gasp. "Thorin would never do such a thing."
"He would! And he'd order you to g-go with him. Leave me 'lone and go on."
"No, Kili. But, even if he did for some reason, I would not obey."
"You couldn't disobey. Orders are --"
"Orders. I know." I lowered him from my shoulder and lay him in my lap, studying him. Kili gazed up at me with wide-eyed devastation. My poor little brother, thinking such dark thoughts about himself. It was so unlike him. Brushing the hair from his face and the tears from his cheeks, I said, "Aye; orders are orders, and all our lives we've been raised to honor that. But heed me, little brother. You mean more to me than Thorin's orders."
Kili blinked, watching me with utter disbelief. "W-What?" he breathed.
I kissed his brow and said, "If Thorin ordered me to leave you behind, I would not obey. You mean more to me than any orders."
"I do?" he whispered, as though afraid some ghostly witness was nearby gathering damning information on us.
Saddened by his genuine surprise, I said in a quiet, reasonable voice,"Of course you do. You are my beloved little brother. There is nothing I wouldn't do for you."
He looked so incredulous it made my chest ache. "Really, Fee?" he asked in a bewildered tone, his brow knotted up.
Much more of this and I would start crying, too. "Really. I'd never choose mere orders over you."
"Even if Uncle gotted mad at you?"
I shrugged. "I imagine he would. That would be his choice. But it would make no difference to me."
"Listen to me, Kili," I said, rubbing my hand up and down his arm. "No matter how many orders Thorin issues I will never leave you; not to go on the Quest and not if you were injured. I've never left you behind before and I'm not about to start now." I curled my hand and brushed the backs of my fingers over his damp cheek, repeating what I most wanted him to hear, regardless of how many times he needed to hear it: "I will never leave you."
His face softened a little. He looked spellbound. Then it seemed he couldn't help saying, "Promise?"
I grinned and leaned over to touch my forehead to his. "Head bop swear."
"Head bop swear," he murmured back.
I sat back and looked down at him again. He closed his eyes. A great shudder shook his body, then his dark eyes popped open again and the soft, flashing sparkle that lived in my little brother's gaze had returned. I grinned again to see it. I felt we were over the worst. Whatever Thorin decided now, Kili knew what his future held. And so did I. We would face whatever came as we always had. Together.
"Oh," he muttered in a small voice.
"Oh?" I said, feeling my grin broaden at his simple response. "Oh, indeed, ye wee bratling." I thought it a fair imitation of Balin.
Kili looked surprised, and with a small strangled cry he launched himself into my arms, hugging me with the genuine enthusiasm that made my high-spirited little brother who he was. I grinned like mad and held him, rubbing his back and giving him a moment to enjoy his solace before we moved on. This had been the main obstacle we'd faced, the cause behind Kili's actions ever since Thorin had hesitated to include him in the Company straightaway. I'd kept it to myself, but I suspected our mother might also be a factor in Thorin's behavior.
"That lad of mine is just plain reckless," I'd overheard her telling Thorin not long ago.
"Aye. That he is."
"Kili frightens me sometimes," she said.
"His brother helps balance him." Mother cleared her throat, and Thorin added, "Sometimes."
"And when my youngest does things on his own?" She sighed. "I just don't know if he's ever going to grow up."
"He is yet a young beardling. He has seen but seventy-seven summers. Kili has plenty of time to grow up."
"I hope he gets the chance to," Mother had muttered.
Fortunately Kili hadn't heard that. And I wasn't about to tell him. He was upset enough. Thorin's indecision had slammed Kili into a wall of panic. I know how I would feel. Even the notion that Uncle had needed to think about it would've set me off, too. Thorin had been telling us stories of Erebor as long as we could remember. From the time we were little we had played "Kill The Dragon" games, beating Smaug into submission with our wooden swords then ridding Middle Earth of him forever. We were the last of the House of Durin, a direct line to our ancestors. This Quest was our birthright. So of course Kili had been terrified of being excluded from the Company leaving to take back Erebor.
I couldn't blame him for feeling that way. Had it been me I can't say that I would've been any less panicked, but I wouldn't have taken such an insanely hazardous course of action. My little brother had been unable to hear reason, even when I pointed out over and over that nothing had yet been decided. I hadn't realized that this fear of me leaving without him had been festering inside him, though. Given the intensity of his biggest fear it wasn't surprising he'd been feeling desperate enough to do something so irresponsible. Not that it excused it. Having solved the problem of my loyalties it was time to finish dealing with what that desperation had triggered. Knowing how much better I felt after I'd atoned for my wrongdoing, I wanted that now for Kili. He'd tell me he already felt fully atoned, of course. But we'd gone off course so we hadn't resolved the matter of his actions. And he was beginning to tire.
I patted his back and said, "Come. Let's finish this so we can get some sleep."
Kili drew back and gave me a searching look. Before he could say anything I raised a brow at him, flipped him back down over my knee and drew him close to my body. "Aye. Finish."
He gasped and shot me a wild-eyed look over his shoulder. "No! Not more! Feeee!"
I looked down at the color of his bottom. Ow. This was going to be unpleasant for him, to say the least. Well, it wouldn't take much longer. Once again, I lifted my arm.
"Fee! No! Please! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Now he did begin to kick and strain his legs straight behind him. When he tried to roll his bottom from side to side away from my hand I gave him several stronger spanks and waited until he stopped howling to say, "Enough of that thrashing about. Behave yourself. And do not dare put that hand behind you." He wailed in protest and I grimaced a bit, feeling his discomfort too much myself. But I went on spanking him and it didn't take long before he was sobbing again and crying out his pleas and promises, all Kili's typical conduct during a spanking.
"I'm sure it does. So let us be done with this, shall we?"
"Aye! Please be d-done! I'll be good! P-Promise! The goodest!"
"You already are the goodest, little brother," I said, cracking a grin at the return of his little beardling talk. I found it endearing. Easing up, I slowed my swats. "But, as to what you did--"
"Sorry,sorry,sorryyyyyy! Biggest sorry, bruver! Was naughty."
I blinked at his use of a word he absolutely hated. "Were you naughty, or did you do something naughty?" Thorin often needed to make this distinction with him.
"Did-ed the naughty!" he cried. "Sorry!"
I stopped spanking and rested my hand on his now quite hot backside. "Sorry for what?" I asked again, hoping he could grasp it this time, hoping he could go back to what he'd said earlier before he started arguing about how I couldn't order him around and we'd then gone off topic.
"I-oh, big bruver! Ohhhh!" Kili wept and shuddered, evidently realizing exactly what he had done in his frenzy to prove himself to Thorin. "Sorry I endanger-ed my life. Sorry I was--"
"Be careful little brother," I said in a warning tone.
He paused and thought, then: "Sorry I did-ed somefin' stupid. Sorry for bein' reck-reckless. Sorry I din't listen to you and ranned from you. Sorry I th-thought you'd leave me. Should'a knowed you would never ever l-leave your Kee."
Now he couldn't pronounce his name, either. And he was breaking my heart. I tenderly gathered up his wilted, trembling body and cuddled him to me. "No. I could never leave my Kee. What would I do without my Kee?"
"No worry," he rasped. "Won't have to, Fee. Won't." Drained though he was he managed to wrap his limp arms around my neck and rest his head on my shoulder, nuzzling his face under the curtain of my hair the way he always did when I comforted him.
"Thank you," I murmured. "Thank you for your sorries. You were so brave, and I'm so proud of you."
Kili cried softly, nestling in closer. "P-Proud of you, too, Fee."
"Shhhhhh," I purred in his ear. "Shh, sh, shhhhh. It's alright now. All over. All's forgiven. My good, good little brother." I paused then said, "You do have value, Kili. Much more than you think. Thorin knows that. I've seen him watching when you're at target practice or sparring. His eyes are filled with pride, Kili. Pride and love. And he smiles his 'That's my nephew' smile and his eyes crinkle at the corners, the way he does when he first sees you coming. He knows your worth, believe me. Trust in that, little brother. And if you value me, then you know how much I value you."
Kili wept and wept. I hoped he could hear me. I felt his tears dampen my neck and I listened to his crying and rocked him, and suddenly I felt the way Thorin likely did when a spanking was over. He would comfort us while we were still stretched out over his knee, and it always felt cleansing and wonderful to be on the receiving end of that affection. But cuddling Kili, listening to his soft sounds and quiet hiccups and feeling the small occasional shivers course through him brought me to the point of what he would call 'good tears.' I held him for some time, rubbing his back and enjoying Kili's wholly vulnerable little side. I could get much too used to this.
He'd been so quiet it surprised me to hear his hoarse, hushed voice. "Aye?"
"Will you say it?"
I smiled and kissed his head. "I'm with you, little brother. I'm here."
"An' I'm wif you."
"And you're with me."
"Always. I won't leave you and you won't leave me," I said. A sudden, horrible glimpse of what life would be like without my little brother jumped me from the shadows. I shivered and hugged him closer, curling my head down over his shoulder. "Don't you ever leave me, Kili."
He sucked in a small breath of air and was silent for a moment. Then I felt him patting my back. "Shhh, big bruver," he whispered. "I won't go nowhere. Never leave my Fee."
"Never ever," I murmured, somehow feeling how much he was loving the chance to share some comfort of his own .
"Never. Not ever."
"Promise," I said and I felt him nod.
"Promise, Fee. Biggest promise."
He drew back and I lifted my head and looked at him. His dark eyes positively glittered and a soft smile ghosted over his mouth. "Head bop swear, big bruver," he said.
I sniffed a grin and leaned over, feeling Kili's forehead gently touch mine. "Head bop swear, little brother."
"I'm sorry I didn't just bring him home and wait for you to discipline him," my nephew said. "I didn't mean to override your authority, Thorin. I just felt that what he'd done was so naughty it required an immediate response."
Meaning Fili had needed to mete out an immediate response. I understood. He must have been terrified to wake in the morning and find his little brother gone, knowing where Kili had headed. Fili had likely pictured all kinds of horrors on his long journey to the Forbidden Valley, hoping he wasn't too late, hoping Kili had not yet entered the forest. And, knowing Kili, he would have given his older brother a fight when Fili arrived to take him home. Given all that I could not blame Fili for taking matters into his own hands. It was surprising, but just. It was even justice that he had used a word Kili loathed to describe his behavior.
"I spanked him again this morning so that you could see proof of --"
I held up a palm. "No. If Kili is willing to drop his trousers to show me how thorough you were I don't need to see proof of how thorough you were."
I clasped my hands behind my back and studied my nephews. They remained silent, Kili still fidgeting. But Fili held his head high and faced me with steady eyes and a gaze full of calm, respectful courage.
"You did not tell your mother where you had been or what Kili had done?" I asked him.
"No, sir," Fili replied. "I thought it for the best."
I nodded, but I could not condone lying, so I had to ask, "What did you tell her had happened?"
"I told her that I found Kili out hunting, and that I had dealt with his lack of good judgment in leaving without me and his thoughtless treatment of her in not leaving a note."
Clever. I felt certain that had been part of Fili's lesson so it could not be called a lie. "I see," I repeated. "Good."
I considered this unexpected situation from all angles. Kili seemed awkward, but fine. He moved a bit stiffly, but he should have been after two spankings in as many days followed by the ride home. He showed no signs of distress nor resentment over his brother's treatment of him, though. Kili wore his feelings openly. He would have been unable to hide any true upset. So he had accepted his older brother's authority. A remarkable change for both my nephews. But I had no illusions about this. Fili and Kili were too used to being allies. They would return to their joint roguery. They would miss it too much.
It had been Kili's recklessness that had given me pause when I considered including him in the Company. But the fact that Fili would no longer tolerate his younger brother's more dangerous actions would hopefully help curb Kili's behavior in the future. I would not assign Fili the duty of guarding Kili. It would be unfair to them both. Besides, Fili already watched over his brother, as I had once watched over Frerin. But the fact that Fili had taken on this responsibility himself meant a great deal. The question of whether or not to leave Kili behind had weighed heavily on my mind. On the way home today I had all but decided to allow him to join us. This confirmed my decision. I would tell them in the morning, but now I looked at my nephews who stood waiting for my reaction.
"Kili, I need not tell you what I think about your behavior. I'm thankful your brother came after you before you were lost to us. He has acted as I would have acted, and I feel certain he said everything I would have said to you."
I then turned to Fili. "Thank you. I am not angry with you, Fili, nor do I think you overstepped your bounds, given the situation. I am content leaving the matter in your capable hands."
Fili seemed to grow several inches taller. Kili continued to study the floor until his brother glanced over and nudged him with his elbow, then his head popped up and he turned to Fili with raised brows and a faint look of clearly false surprise. They shared a meaningful gaze, then Kili turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, Uncle."
Fili waited, watching him, then he nudged his little brother again and murmured, "For . . .."
Kili swallowed hard and continued: "I'm sorry for upsetting mother and I'm sorry I didn't listen to Fili and I'm sorry I lit out for the Forbidden Valley and I'm sorry I came up with such a foolhardy plan and I'm sorry for . . .." He paused abruptly, his eyes grew wide and he gazed at me as though suddenly hearing his own words. When he spoke again he was no longer simply repeating what he knew he should say; he said what he truly felt. "I'm . . . I'm sorry for everything, Uncle. Sorry I was so . . . so naughty."
I fought a smile, promptly lost, and gave my nephew a fond grin. Kili often tested my temper, but it was difficult to stay angry with him for long. That was especially true now when he had humbled himself so sincerely, emphasizing his remorse by uttering a word he detested. I reached over and cupped the side of his face with one hand, saying, "Thank you, laddie. Apology accepted."
Kili smiled beautifully, eyes glistening. I then looked at Fili, who wore a faint grin of his own. Placing my other hand on his shoulder, I said, "Well done, sir." Fili's grin grew wider and he gave me a nod. Stepping back, I said, "Carry on. I shall see you in the morning."
Fili nudged his brother once more and they turned to leave, but Kili turned back and said, "Uncle?"
"Uhh . . . every other night for a week. I was just wondering . . .." He paused and shifted from foot to foot.
"You were wondering?" I said.
"Does it really have to be every other night for a week?"
I looked at Fili. He was watching Kili with a suddenly stern expression and Kili made the mistake of glancing at him. He blinked and shrank back. This time I carefully schooled my features.
"That is what Fili decided, lad," I said. "I shall not contradict him. And, given the circumstances, you should count yourself fortunate. Your big brother is going easy on you. I likely would have spanked you every other night for two weeks."