hoopyfrood: (Terry and Graham kiss [Monty Python])
[personal profile] hoopyfrood
Title: A Rose By Any Other Name
Pairing: Bofur/Fíli
Rating: G
Words: 2976
Disclaimer I do not claim to own any of the characters portrayed. No harm intended.
Summary: Whilst out scouting ahead for the rest of the company, Fíli and Kíli end up landing themselves in a rather sticky situation. Literally. Luckily, as far as Fíli's concerned, there's someone there more than willing to clean up the resulting mess.



For the third time in as many days, Thorin's company found themselves moving through a small, but dense, woodland. It was tedious, but far preferable to a rocky cliff face or seemingly never ending cave pass and for that, they were grateful.

Fíli and Kíli as usual had been sent ahead to scout for an opening in the trees and a place to camp for the night. They ambled along at a leisurely pace, having encountered nothing but skittish deer for the last few miles.

Suddenly, Fíli held out his arm. "Wait," he said, stopping Kíli who was walking close behind him in his tracks. "What are those?"

He nodded at a dozen or so large, brilliantly coloured plants artfully entwined with the trees a few metres ahead of them. Their flowers hung down low from the branches like delicate glass ornaments blown by the most skilled hands in all of Middle Earth. They were beautiful. And utterly unlike anything the two young dwarves had come across in all their years.

"I've never seen flowers that big before," Kíli said with wonder. "And can you smell that? Like the sweetest perfume worn by the sweetest maiden." He inhaled deeply, a serene expression washing over his face as he savoured the scent.

Fíli snorted. "And when exactly have you ever got close enough to a maiden to smell her perfume?" He teased.

"Let's take a closer look," Kíli urged in excitement, pointedly ignoring his brother.

"I suppose there's no harm," Fíli agreed and sheathed his sword.

Curiosity, and boredom, having got the better of them, they approached without apprehension. The flowers drawing them closer like moths to a flame.

Unfortunately, with their gazes fixed so firmly in awe, they both failed to notice the clear, sticky substance covering the ground and no sooner than a few steps later, their boots were stuck fast.

Fíli toppled forwards with a yelp, landing on his hands and knees with a dull thud. Kíli was more fortunate, managing to somehow stay upright. He tried to lift a boot off the floor, wanting to go to his brother's aide, but could only manage a few centimetres before it snapped back down. "I'm stuck," he said simply, blinking down at Fíli in confusion.

Fíli rolled his eyes. "How observant of you. Can you reach me?"

Kíli stretched as far as he could, holding out his hands towards his brother, but it was no use; he could grip nothing but air. He shook his head miserably.

"We'll have to call for help," Kíli said with a rather pronounced pout.

Fíli frowned. Having the whole company see them like this wasn't the most appealing thought he'd ever had.

"Hold out your bow and I'll try to free a hand to grab it," he said instead, determined to free them on his own.

Kíli did as he was told, patiently waiting as Fíli wriggled and pulled, all the while cursing under his breath as he did so.

As if sensing their distress, the flowers that hung directly above them gradually began to open wider. The petals parted and deep from within the centre, the same slimy stickiness that covered the floor began to slowly seep out.

Fíli made a horrified sound as it dripped onto him, his skin instantly prickling with goosebumps. Kíli, still being able to move his upper body, was able to dodge the thick strands that swung down. He lent back and bent forward, dodging and weaving like he would during a one-on-one fight with an enemy.

"Hurry up, Fíli," Kíli begged, trying got to fall over.

"I'm trying!" Fíli barked back.

"Well try harder!"

Their voices grew louder and louder, the peaceful silence shattering under the weight of their bickering. In desperation, Kíli fired a few arrows skywards in hopes of severing the flower heads from their stems, but it was no use. They disappeared up through the leaves and out of sight, landing who know's where.

They locked eyes; annoyance, for the first time, giving way to the beginnings of fear.

"Fíli! Kíli!" Thorin's voice boomed as he hurriedly emerged from amongst the camouflage of trees. The rest of the company were close behind, flanking him with their axes, swords and hammers raised ready to attack.

"Stop! Be mindful where you tread!" Fíli shouted in warning before they could rush over to them.

Everyone immediately froze in surprise, bewildered by the, seemingly, lack of any immediate danger surrounding the two young princes.

After a few moments, an amused titter began to move through the group. Just a few stifled giggles at first, but it quickly grew into loud unabashed laughter as the true extent of Fíli and Kíli's predicament became clear.

Thorin lowered his sword and the tense hunch of his shoulders eased in relief.

"By your shouts we thought you were being attacked by a wildbeast. Not a few pretty flowers," Dwalin said as he crossed his arms and grinned widely, drinking in the ridiculous sight.

"Then you're welcome to switch places with me," Fíli snapped, cheeks flushing in embarrassment as the goo started to inch down his forehead.

"Please get us out," Kíli pleaded.

Having decided they'd suffered enough, Dwalin held out his axe for Fíli, who had finally managed to tug a hand free, whilst Balin did the same with his for Kíli. Luckily, the plant's usual food source seemed to be much smaller and weaker than a dwarf, so after some desperate pulling and a little teamwork the two princes were quickly free. Their egos being the only casualties of the whole ordeal.

Poor Fíli, however, was in an absolute state. His hair was tangled into one big mess and sticking up in every possible direction, whilst his face was covered in a thick layer of grime. His clothes hadn't fared much better either. Kíli looked positively pristine in comparison.

"I wish you could see yourself, brother," Kíli sniggered. "You look like an angry warg caught out in a rainstorm."

"Enough," Thorin cut in before Fíli could respond, his patience wearing thin. "We need to keep moving. It will be dark soon."

"Can't we just stop here?" Fíli asked, a hint of desperation colouring his tone. He stood awkwardly, holding his arms out away from his body as if afraid to touch himself.

Thorin gave him a quick once-over, clearly looking for any unseen injuries he may have missed. "Can you still walk?"

"Well, yes, but-"

"Then no," Thorin said with finality and moved back to the front of the group. "If you're unhurt, we will continue until sunset. We have much ground to make and can't afford to lose any more time. You know this, Fíli."

Fíli huffed in annoyance, half tempted to do something childish like stick his tongue out at his uncle's retreating back.

"Hang in there, laddie," Balin said from his spot next to him. "It'll only be a couple more hours." He gave Fíli a fond smile before following after their king. The rest of the group, one by one, eventually did the same, each of them falling back into routine and duty as a vague sense of normality was once again restored.

~~~


They eventually stopped where the trees began to thin and stretched out in front of them was nothing but green hills for as far as the eye could see. A wonderful light breeze greeted them and they each took a greedy lungful, thankful to be out in the cool open air once more.

Despite this, Fíli was in a foul mood.

The group were again recounting their amusement upon coming across the two young dwarves after hearing their shouts of distress and Fíli was, quite simply, tired of it. Even Ori had felt daring enough to poke fun at him and that just wasn't right, no matter how much he liked the other dwarf. And to think, with their gentle scribe noting down every little detail of their quest in that book of his, it would be there for generation after generation to see as well. An amusing story parents would tell to their children was pretty far removed from the fierce warrior he hoped he'd go down in history as.

To top it all off, having been unable to convince Thorin to set up camp even a mere hour earlier than they had planned, Fíli was still covered from head to toe in Mahal know's what from his and Kíli's rather unfortunate discovery.

So yes, Fíli was in a suitably foul mood, and as soon as they were settled, he was off down to the nearby stream without even a backwards glance; the boisterous laughter of Thorin's company following him as he stomped away.

As soon as he reached a decently secluded area, he undid the belts buckled tight around his waist and quickly stripped off his heavy, fur lined overcoat. Tugging it quickly off, he let it unceremoniously drop to the floor in a heap, glad to be finally rid of it.

Now came the unpleasant part.

Reaching up, he only just managed to suppress the whine of disgust as he felt around in his hair to assess the damage. It wasn't too sticky, unlike the thin film that had been covering the forest floor, but it would still be difficult to unclump.

He perched on a large rock by the side of the stream and began the arduous task of untangling his hair.

It wasn't long before he realised that he was getting nowhere fast. His neck and arms were aching from the strain and though trying his absolute best, he just didn't know what he was doing. He could be making it worse for all he knew!

"You ok, lad?" Bofur's distinct voice called out from somewhere behind him, making him jolt slightly in surprise.

"Fine," Fíli replied curtly without turning around.

"It's just you've been down here for a good half an hour now," Bofur added nonchalantly.

Fíli ignored him and continued to viciously pull at his hair, growling loudly in annoyance as his fingers got caught for the umpteenth time.

"Hey, hey, it's alright," Bofur soothed and placed a comforting hand on Fíli's bicep. "Come on, let me help."

"I'm not a child," Fíli grumbled but didn't shake him off.

"Oh, aye, I can see that," Bofur agreed simply.

Fíli eyed him suspiciously for a moment, tempted to refuse again purely out of principle, but Bofur's face was so earnest and open, it was hard to turn him away. Actually, now that he thought about it, he couldn't seem to place Bofur amongst the laughing faces of the other dwarves after they had stumbled upon him and Kíli earlier in the day. Thorin and Bilbo, of course, didn't count. His uncle's face seemed to be set in a permanent scowl nowadays and Bilbo worried enough for them all combined.

"Ok," he relented with a sigh and let his arms flop down into his lap.

Having gained Fíli's permission, Bofur critically inspected the unruly mass of blonde hair in front of him. He clicked his tongue in disapproval and shook his head. "What a fine mess you've gotten yourself into. But don't worry, just let me work my magic."

He wiggled his fingers and Fíli allowed himself a small smile.

"I'm going to have to undo your braids, though," Bofur added apologetically.

"Just do whatever you must," Fíli said with a flap of his hand, hoping to just get it over and done with as quick as possible.

Bofur deftly removed the clasps and set to work freeing the tight braids, his fingers working swiftly and skillfully.

"I don't think I've ever longed for a hot bath more than I do at this moment," Fíli mused conversationally, more thankful for the companionship than he thought he would be. "At least orc or goblin blood isn't so damn sticky."

"Fíli, I hate to say this, my friend, but when you consider being covered in blood a preference, something is seriously wrong."

Fíli turned round and grinned widely at Bofur, showing far too many teeth in a way that made him look slightly crazed. Bofur laughed and forced him back forward.

Finally done with the braids, Bofur began to comb his fingers through Fíli's blonde hair, methodically getting rid of the knots and picking out all the leaves as he went.

"I'm not hurting you am I?" Bofur asked after encountering a particularly large tangle.

"No," Fíli replied through gritted teeth, his scalp stinging from each unintentional sharp tug.

"Because we can leave it for a while and I'd be happy to lend you my hat for the meantime."

"You'd give me your hat?" Fíli said in disbelief. "And what have I done to receive such an honour?"

Bofur chuckled and playfully swatted at the back of his head. "Oi, you."

"Best not, otherwise I'm not sure I'd recognise you. Might end up leaving you behind somewhere or mistaking you for a foe," Fíli said, his lips twitching as he tried to suppress a smile.

"You wound me," Bofur sighed, placing a hand over his heart. "Deeply."

He untwisted a twig caught between the strands of hair and held it out for Fíli to see. "I wouldn't be surprised if I found a bird's nest in here," Bofur joked as he flicked it into the water. Together, they watched it get carried away by the gentle current until it was gone from sight.

Fíli laughed. "Nor I."

"Maybe even a whole family of squirrels," he added. "Better keep your nuts nice and safe," Bofur stage-whispered close to Fíli's ear.

Fíli guffawed loudly, his whole body shaking with mirth, and leaned back against Bofur's chest.

"I actually once found a dead mouse in Kíli's hair," he shared cheekily, his mood lighter than it had been all day.

"You're kidding," Bofur replied with thinly veiled disgust. Fíli could imagine the look on his face, his nose scrunched up in a strange mix of horror and astonishment.

"I wish I was," Fíli replied. "When we were out hunting, he dived through a hedgerow to follow a rabbit and came out the other side covered in all sorts. He ended up going most of the day with it stuck in there, even though he had duties to attend to. Mother was not happy."

"I bet," Bofur readily agreed.

Bofur's comforting presence coupled with the gentle sound of the stream trickling by were a wonderfully calming combination. Fíli's earlier frustrations were now nothing but a simple memory and he allowed himself to relish the closeness of the other dwarf behind him, shivering in pleasure as Bofur accidentally grazed the shell of his ear.

"You needn't be embarrassed by what happened today, you know," Bofur began hesitantly. "You have nothing to prove to anyone on this journey, especially Thorin."

Fíli immediately tensed, his reverie shattering. Undeterred, Bofur crouched in front of him, his hands gripping Fíli's knees tightly.

"I've never seen him prouder than when he looks your way."

Fíli looked down to where Bofur was rubbing soothing circles against his legs, the warmth from his palms seeping through the fabric. He felt curiously lightheaded.

"And if you're ever feeling inadequate for whatever ridiculous reason, just remember, he got lost twice when we went to fetch Bilbo. Twice!" Bofur repeated in astonishment.

Fíli snorted ungracefully, causing Bofur to smile in triumph before returning to his task.

He let his eyes slip closed and let the minutes ticked by, only partly listening to the songful tune Bofur had started to whistle. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he noticed Bofur was no longer combing through his hair.

"Right, you're tangle free."

Fíli cracked his eyes halfway open, gazing out blearily. "Hmm?"

Bofur chuckled. "Stay there for a minute," he instructed and patted him on the shoulder.

Fíli watched with interest as Bofur unwound the scarf from around his neck and dipped one end of it into the stream. Seemingly satisfied, he crowded back in close to him and pressed the damp fabric to Fíli's cheek. After a few seconds, he started to gently wipe away the dirt that clung to his skin. Fíli dared not breath, too entranced with the concentration on Bofur's face and being, for the first time, close enough to be able to count the laugh lines around his eyes.

He briefly wondered if Bofur could hear the rapid thump of his heart from within his chest, because he swore it had never been that loud before.

"There we go, good as new," Bofur stepped back to admire his work. "Just go dunk your head under the water a few times if you're still feeling a bit dirty."

Fíli blinked and gently touched his chilled cheek. "Thank you."

"My pleasure," Bofur said with a grin, sweeping his arm towards his body in a bow.

"And not just for..." Fíli gestured helplessly at his head before giving up with a shrug.

Bofur's face softened. "Like I said, my pleasure."

They stood there looking at each other for a few moments, both unsure what to do, before Bofur cleared his throat. "Hungry?"

"Starving," Fíli admitted somewhat bashfully.

"Good. Dinner should be nearly done now." He picked up Fíli's overcoat and threw it over his shoulder. "I reckon we might need to boil some hot water for this."

He let Bofur lead them back to camp, content to just listen to him chatter happily the entire way.

When they reached the others, they were greeted with warm smiles. Vaguely, as Bombur handed him a steaming bowl of stew and Bofur left his side to start heating some water, Fíli thought maybe having the odd moment of laughter go down in legend wouldn't be such a bad thing. After all, who knew how many more of those moments they had left.

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