Before Kili was a warrior, he was an artist.

Well, he wanted to be one. At the tender dwarvish age of 42, his first beard stubble had yet to grow in (Fili's had, in abundance), he stood taller that most of his peers (Fili was the epitome of respectable short stature), and he had yet to show any knack for weapons apart from the Elvish bow (needless to say, Fili was already apt with a pair of twin swords).

But one thing Kili could do, to his Uncle Thorin's dismay, was capture the likeness of the dwarven company in an exceedingly unflattering manner. He was in danger of becoming another Ori. (Not that Ori wasn't beloved by his compatriots, but one knitting dwarf was plenty in Thorin's opinion, thank you very much.)

And it was with Ori that Kili found himself that watery morning. Pale sunlight dribbled through the clumsily crafted shutters of the Drunken Dame, an inn run by the Men of Bedfordshire – an artisan's village in the shadow of the ore-rich Arnen Hills by the Crossing of Eren. The folk of Bedfordshire, which consisted of Men and a smattering of dwarves, had welcomed Thorin's newcomers with open arms, especially when the new dwarves offered their skilled craftsmanship in exchange for food and lodgings.

Which brings us back to Ori and Kili on that tepid day, and the matter of Bofur's hat.

"No, no," Ori admonished, "It's over-under-over, not under-over-under."

They sat together on an oversized bed built for a full grown man, on a lumpy mattress that smelled faintly of wet hay. The other dwarves had opted to sprawl out on the floor, each rolled in their cloak and each dreaming dreams of the lost might of Erebor; Thorin most of all, who lay apart from the others on a small child's cot.

Kili looked down at the elk-bone needles in his hands and made a disparaging sound in the back of his throat. Brown wool spooled out before him in knots even an elf couldn't hope to untangle. "Well, what am I to do then?"

He spoke softly as to avoid disturbing the other's rest, glancing nervously at Bofur, who lounged in a wicker chair just a few feet away, chest rising in short hiccups as the older dwarf snuffled in his sleep.

Ori shrugged, scratching the tip of his nose with a grubby finger. "I shouldn't know, I've never tried to make a hat before. I'm more of a sweater person myself." He paused, shifting on the uncomfortable mattress. At the age of sixty-something, just brushing shoulders with adulthood, Ori was still mastering his slingshot and had yet to make a single sweater that actually fit. "Besides, if you're planning on wearing that hat anytime soon, you have got to make it much smaller."

"It's…" Kili scrabbled to find the right words. "It's not for me. It's for Bofur."

"Bofur has already got himself a hat," Ori said, nonplussed. "Quite a nice one to, from his mother's brother's side. He seems awfully fond of it."

As if aware of the topic of his headgear, Bofur stirred, murmuring in his sleep. A troubled look crossed his previously undisturbed face.

"You didn't," Ori began, lowering his voice in fear. His ginger eyebrows collided like shocked caterpillars. "You didn't…do something to it, did you?"

"It was Fili's idea, not mine," Kili said defensively. "And we were going to give it back."

"What could you possibly have needed it for?"

"Target practice?"

Ori's eyes bulged, and he snatched away the wool from Kili's hands. "Nothing you could ever knit would replace that hat. Not even the best crafts of Men would replace it. You, laddie, are done for."


There are times in life when you feel like you're drowning. Just sinking. Life overpowers you, and you feel like there's nothing in all of Middle Earth you can do to stop it. Those are the times that try the soul.

The morning Kili tried to salvage a new hat for Bofur was one of those times.

He knew it was a reckless errand, one unlikely to end in success. Failure leered at him from every shadow, but he refused to give in.

And if he was going down, Kili was dragging Fili down with him.

"Come on!" he shouted to Fili over the marketplace din. Vendors had just began to set out their wares for the day. Light frosted the bins of rosy apples with a cold fall cheer. There were rows upon rows of fat butternut squashes, and carts bedecked with delicate pottery. The warm scent of cinnamon and yeasty overtones of freshly baked bread delighted the two young dwarves, and after a little brotherly persuasion, Kili purchased two wildberry scones from a nearby baker.

"There has got to be some sort of hat place around here somewhere," Fili said optimistically through a mouthful of crumbs. Kili didn't look so sure. The market day crowds had yet to arrive, and the surrounding vendors watched the strange newcomers with interest.

"Is it hats you boys are after?" One grizzled butcher asked from behind ripe curtains of meat. "Then you best find Brand Morac's son, he sets up shop not too far from here. Over yonder by the village square."

Kili thanked the man, and they set off on their fool's errand with hope in their hearts.


Bofur had slept in later than his compatriots, and he awoke to find that several of the dwarves had already left for the morning.

Humming, Nori stood near the door, working carefully to model his hair into three distinct points. Dori leaned against the wall to his right, smoking a pipe of Bedfordshire's best weed. The smoking dwarf looked up when he heard Bofur yawn contently.

"Bombur's out getting breakfast, and Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, and Balin went with him," Dori paused to let out a dignified puff of smoke. "Thorin went early to the armory."

"And Bifur?"

"Standing in that corner over there. I wouldn't bother him."


"He was fighting dragons in his sleep again, if you catch my meaning." Dori gave Bofur a telling wink. "Gets a bit grabby with his axe after dreaming certain dreams."

"Ah," Bofur glanced over at his odd cousin. Bifur didn't say a word. "Well, I think the inn's dining room is calling me. I fancy I'll join Bombur and the rest."

He fastened his boots and went to grab his hat from the peg. Except for it wasn't there. Third peg from the door, where he always left it, and it wasn't there. A quiver of Kili's arrows hung from it instead.

Turning to Nori and Dori, he asked sharply. "Have either of you seen my hat lying about?"

Nori shook his head, and Dori exhaled smoke in a negating manner.

And across the room, previously unnoticed, the squeak of a frightened field mouse escaped Ori's lips.

Bofur turned to him, glowering. "Have you seen my hat, Ori?"

"No,"Ori said quickly, which was the truth, but there was something in the way the younger dwarf kept his eyes downcast that aroused Bofur's suspicions.

"You haven't the faintest clue where my hat ambled off to, then?" Bofur stepped towards the trembling dwarf, and the inn's floorboards creaked beneath his thundering footsteps. Ori quailed. "Not the faintest clue at all, lad?"

"Fili and Kili," he burst, shrinking backwards.

"Fili and Kili?"

"Fili and Kili!" Ori nodded in affirmation.


As it so happened, Brand Morac's son was a very rich peddler of headgear. Large and small, thick or thin, made of the finest materials, Brand had it all.

"What can I do for you, little folk?" Brand was the king of his well-stocked stall, looking down at Kili as if from a throne. Brand was a skinny sort of man, with a narrow face and long spidery fingers that were constantly on the move. Beady eyes tried to assess the wealth of the two young dwarves. "I don't get a lot of your folk purchasing my wares."

"Yes, well," Kili licked his dry lips. "We're interested in buying a hat."

"Obviously," Brand sneered. "Any idea what type of hat?"

"Oooh, what about this one?" Fili asked excitedly, feeling the soft sheepsdown material of a regal, sturdy hat with an embroidered brim. He was obviously unaffected by the shopkeeper's less than friendly tones, even when Brand wrenched the hat from his dirty fingers.

"This one is five hundred gold pieces," Brand told them, and Kili choked at the price. He could equal his Uncle Thorin's pay at the Bedfordshire armory and still come nowhere near touching that price with a ten foot staff. Desperation set in as Kili realized that most of Brand's inventory was of similar pricing, and that due to Bedfordshire's small size, he was their only option.

"I suppose you two won't be buying anything after all." Brand sighed.

But Fili and Kili didn't give up quite so easily. "Show us your cheapest," Fili demanded.

Brand looked at the pair of them for a while before relenting. "I suppose there is one hat I'd be willing to give away for free. No one has bought it in upwards of five years, and I'd be pleased to get it off my stall shelf."

The dwarven brothers waited with drawn breath as Brand produced the unwanted hat and lay it on the counter in disgust.

And it sat there, odd and alone, too different to merit a response without a moment's consideration. For starters, its earflaps were twisted and bent, reaching outwards like gnarled old branches eager for sunlight. The stiff brown material looked careworn and traveled in, despite Brand's insistence that it was new. And the lining grew in uneven patches, bare in places.

"It's perfect," Kili breathed.


"You're looking for two dwarves, you say? Youngish, one with brown hair and the other blond?" The butcher looked over his stall at the indignant dwarf who stood before him. "Yeah, I've seen them, but I'm not sure I'd call them mischievious-lookin.' They were interested in headgear, they were."

"But where did they go?" Bofur asked impatiently.

"I tol' them to head on over to Brand Morac's son."

"And where is that?"

"There," the butcher pointed, not wanting to annoy the dwarf further.

He watched the dwarf stomp off, muttering something about "my hat."


"You really think he'll like it?"

"Definitely," Fili said, sounding certain. Brand had refused to wrap the hat, seeing as they hadn't actually bought it, and Fili had stuffed it in his belt. Success was within their reach.

But what they didn't expect was to see Bofur in the middle of the square, sniffing the air like an enraged wolf. As they looked on, two startled deer, Bofur turned towards them and snarled.

They ran.

"Oy!" Bofur shouted, barreling through a gaggle of geese. "What have you lot done with my hat?"

A brick wall, the corner of the armory, blocked their path.

"Move, move," Fili urged his brother, propelling Kili forwards. A set of smithing stones lay in front of them, and the two tumbled over the obstacle into an unceremonious heap. It didn't take long for Bofur to catch up with them.

Fear squeezed Kili's dwarvish heart, and he looked to his brother beside him with desperation. "It was him!" He accused, pointing a shaky finger.

Fili's eyes widened at the blood betrayl. "It was not! It was him!"

Bofur looked between the two of them, confused. Both looked equally guilty, sprawled out on the cobblestones as they were, and thus both looked equally innocent.

Sweat trickled down the nape of Kili's neck. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't just blame Fili. He had to take responsibility, own up. Unfortunately, Fili had reached the same conclusion at about the same time.

"It was me!" They shouted in unison.

"Oh, just get up, lads," Bofur pulled them to their feet. And that was when something caught his attention, something protruding from Fili's belt. A hat-like something.

"And just what is that?" he asked, gesturing.

Looking guilty, Fili pulled the hat from his belt with agonizing slowness. Kili tried to explain, "We got you a new hat, one we think you'll really like."

Bofur took the hat from Fili, his face unreadable. It sagged in his hands.

"I know it's not the same as your old one, and we're sorry about what happened to that one, we really are," Kili said, and Fili nodded adamantly.

Pensive, Bofur flipped the hat over in his hands, and then jammed it over his twin braids.

And he smiled. It wasn't a sad smile either, or a forced one you wear in tough situations. It was genuine, infectious, a smile that spread like honey on toast. Sure, his old hat had been old. It had a history. But it was a history he had known nothing of, a history that would never be his. Now this new hat, this was Bofur's hat. All his. And it fit like it had been designed for his head alone.

But, then again, Bofur wasn't in the habit of letting young, trouble-making dwarves off so easily.

"Carry me," he told them.


Heat radiated from the armory's furnace like dragon's fire, and Thorin was glad he at least worked out in the open. Having gotten there early that morning, he had been able to choose a smithing stall near the markets, where Thorin could people-watch as he worked on crafting metals into objects of beauty and purpose.

Thorin looked up, and his brow creased. The heat and fumes must be getting to me, he thought. For what he saw was Bofur high above the other townsfolk (carried as he was by Fili and Kili), a smile on his face and a hat atop his head.

-The End-

Author's Note: This little drabble was written at two o'clock in the morning at a friend's house, and then revised later that day. My apologies about anything in here that is not cannon of the book/movie. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!