It was their final dinner together before the men folk would head out on their big quest - the reclaiming of Erebor. Dis had cooked up all the family's favorite dishes. They sat around the table eating, laughing and sharing stories. Tomorrow was the big day. Fili and Kili would be setting out for the Shire. Thorin had a meeting to attend, but he would meet the lads and the rest of the company on the appointed date.
No one wanted to bring up the fact that it might be their last time all together. The possibility of never seeing the family complete again was real and too terrible to think about. It lingered in the backs of all their minds.
They said their good-nights and retired to their rooms.
Kili went to his and shut the door. Even though it had been a year since Fili had married and moved out, Kili still missed his brother's presence. They had been together for more than seventy five years and apart for one. Kili hoped it wouldn't be another seventy five before he didn't miss his brother quite so much. Fili's bed was still there, but the rest of his side of the room was empty. One thing Kili looked forward to on this trip was sleeping near his brother again. It was a selfish, childish desire, he knew, but he missed his brother's quiet snores. His bags were packed and sitting on the floor next to his bed. He was ready to go.
Fili and Mailli went to the rooms that had become their own apartment. It had been some spare rooms of Dis's home, but when Fili married, they closed off that section of the house and created a separate apartment. It was nothing more than a couple of rooms - a cooking area that also served as the sitting and dining room, a small bedroom and a washroom. It was small, but it was all they needed.
They changed into their night clothes and crawled into bed. Fili pulled his wife close. She curved her body into his and wrapped her arm around his waist. He breathed in deeply, smelling her hair. He rubbed his cheek against her head and felt the softness of her hair. He pulled her in tighter. She scooted in as close as she could get. Her face was pressed up against his chest. She kissed it and squeezed his waist. He kissed her head. She looked up to him and they kissed each other's faces. Their hands caressed each other's backs and heads.
Fili was determined to commit every part of Mailli to his memory - her hair, her face, the shape of her body, the feel of her skin. He would make every moment of time they had together tonight count.
* * * *
The brothers rode their ponies in silence. Saying good bye had been devastatingly hard to do. There had been no dry eyes among them. Kili thought about suggesting Fili stay behind. That way he could be with Mailli and protect her and their mother, but he knew Fili would be insulted at the suggestion. Fili was going because he was the crown prince and by reclaiming Erebor, he could provide a real home for his wife and family.
Kili offered to stay and he was sure they would take him up on that. He wasn't really needed on this quest. They had a good company and if Uncle Thorin was successful, Dain and his army would join them. And it was no secret that Dis did not want her baby going off on this venture. As much as it would hurt his pride, Kili could stay behind and protect the women-folk.
It was Mailli that came to Kili's rescue. She insisted he go and keep an eye on Fili for her and make sure he stayed out of trouble. Fili acted insulted. After all, he was the older brother and there to keep Kili out of trouble, but secretly he was grateful to his wife for giving Kili the permission to go. Fili did not want to go on this journey without his brother.
It didn't make saying good bye any easier, though.
After the third day on the road and the Blue Mountains were out of sight, the brothers began to enjoy their journey more. The Shire wasn't too far and the roads were relatively safe. It was the first time the brothers had been on their own for so long and it felt good. They had no doubt that their quest would be a success. Erebor and all of its splendor would be theirs.