- Death-Minor Character
- Canon Divergent
He'd really prefer another quest.
Nori found Bilbo standing at a junction in the corridor not far from the office. Bilbo clearly had no idea where to go. Nori at least could use his senses to figure out the direction he needed to take. “Should we go see Tauriel?”
Bilbo took a deep breath, trying to let go of his irritation. “Yes, let’s go.”
Nori reached out with his hearing and sense of smell. They healing rooms were likely not too far away. The injured and sick were among the most vulnerable, so they would be kept deep and high in the mountain, away from the entrances, just like the offices the royal family worked from. When he located Tauriel, he nudged Bilbo in that direction, but he stayed silent. Even if he had not had the casual bond with Bilbo, after all those months on the road together, he knew that sooner or later he would want to vent.
“I can’t believe him! Acting like I’m some helpless child in need of his protection! What, has he lost all memory of the journey? Perhaps I’m not as experienced or capable with weapons as you lot but that doesn’t mean I’m helpless or need a big bad dwarf to protect me. I can do that myself, thank you very much.”
“I know you’re not helpless. So does Thorin.” Nori held up his hand when Bilbo opened his mouth to retort. “He does, he is just very bad at communicating when it comes to his feelings. Us Sentinels have an instinctive need to protect Guides, regardless of how strong or able they are.” His voice was softer when he continued: “I feel the same way about Dwalin. So does Thorin, I believe. We just have to figure out how to deal with that without disrespecting you.”
“Well, he better learn quickly,” Bilbo muttered.
It took a while for Dís’ laughter to peter out. Thorin had sunk down in his seat as he waited for her to calm down. He was not pouting at her laughing at him – he did not pout, no matter what Dís claimed, or Balin, or Dwalin. But he also knew that asking her to calm down would not go well for him.
“Well, that went well,” Dís said when she finally calmed down. She patted his cheek. “Better listen to him, Thorin. I don’t have the patience to deal with all the bullshit that comes with being regent and Fíli is too young yet.” Then she turned to Balin. “Shall we go try to find information on how the positions on the King’s Council are filled if a councillor dies without heirs?”
Balin nodded. “Perhaps Ori has found something new.”
Thorin stayed silent for a bit after the two of them left. “I’m sorry,” he said finally.
Dwalin sighed. “It’s not just your fault how things are between me and Nori. I can’t bond with him until the law is changed and you have a new Guide but I’m no closer to proposing a bond than you.”
Thorin gave him a dirty look. “Right, no pressure, thanks.”
Dwalin just shrugged. It wasn’t like he had chosen to have a One he could not be with until all those requirements were met. “It doesn’t all depend on you. I’ve denied that he’s my One for years.”
“How long have you known?”
Dwalin considered the question. “I’m not sure. I’ve been attracted to him since I first saw him but…” He shrugged. Nori, just like his brothers, was very attractive. Many people were attracted to them, it did not mean anything. So he had ignored it, telling himself that he was just some thief, a criminal, no matter how pretty. It had taken him years to admit to himself that it was more, that he felt more than just attraction and even then he had hid it, telling himself that Nori was a criminal, that his duty to the kingdom, as both Guide and an guard, was more important and Nori therefore unsuitable.
Only then he had learned that Nori was a Sentinel and the spymaster, that his reputation as a thief and criminal was just a ruse, that Nori was close friends with Dís and utterly devoted to the royal family. So his duty no longer prevented him from being with his One. Now it was Nori’s duty that stood in their way.
“How do I tell him that he’s my One, that I would want him if we could bond, and that I’m sorry for not seeing it sooner?” Dwalin said.
“Let me know if you figure it out. I have to tell Bilbo the same.”
Nori left Bilbo with Tauriel after a while. He respected her, both for her position as Prince Kíli’s One and for herself and her achievements, but things were still somewhat tense between them. The hurts between their people, especially the dwarrow of Erebor and the elves of Mirkwood, were too much to be overcome in the few weeks they had been working towards a common aim. Kíli and Tauriel had quite the battle ahead of them but at least they had Dís’ support. Still, he was happy to see that she was reasonably well, given they had been in Mordor just yesterday.
When he was certain that he was alone and unobserved, he used the next opportunity to slip into one the secret passages spread throughout the mountain. It did not take long for Thoile to join him. She glared at him. He figured that he probably shouldn’t tell her that she reminded him of a kitten just now, even though he knew exactly how capable she was.
“You are not allowed to run off and get yourself killed,” she declared. “The royal family has enough of a death wish for me to deal with. And I’m not ready yet to try and keep them from getting themselves killed. The healers had to almost sit on them to keep them from getting up and aggravating their wounds.”
Nori laughed. “No one is ready for that responsibility. If you thought you were, you would not be suited to becoming spymaster.” He held out his arms. “Come here, mizimith,” he offered gently. He was not surprised when she threw herself into his arms. “I would not have gone on the mission for anything less than what was at stake.” She was even younger than he had been back when Nolir had died. He had been just a little over a year short of his majority, while Thoile still had three years. He remembered all too well the pain of losing him and did not lightly risk her suffering the same. He had not sired her but she was the closest he would ever have to a child and did not want to see her hurt.
“I know,” she said softly. Then she pulled back. “Now you won’t have to do something like that again. We can concentrate on getting them to survive the rebuilding. And on clearing up that partner mix-up you have going on.”
Nori groaned. Great.
Dís stared them down, arms crossed. “What are you doing here?”
Thorin and Dwalin looked up at her from where they were sitting between the piles of gold and precious stones in the treasury, then looked around them. “Oh.”
“We are looking for courting presents for Bilbo and Nori,” Dwalin said.
“Let me rephrase that. Why are you in here instead of out there, spending time with them?”
“The market has not much to offer yet outside of food,” Thorin said. “And they’re heroes now. It is thanks to them that Sauron is gone.”
Dís shook her head and sighed. “Well, at least you waited until after the meeting with Lord Elrond.” She had had to sooth some rather ruffled feathers when she had passed through Rivendell. Though, admittedly, the account of the bath in the fountain had been amusing. Nori’s warning, especially about Elrond’s connection to Isildur and the sons of Feanor, had been helpful and had given her a starting point in understanding the problem. Things were better now but she could only guess how badly it could have gone if Thorin had blown off the meeting to play in the treasury, the impression it would have given.
Dwalin gave her a hopeful look. “You know Nori. Don’t you have a suggestion? Amethysts or Rubies? Or Emeralds?”
“Honestly, you two,” Dís groaned, “even Kíli is doing better courting his elf.” She loved her boys, truly, she did, but she knew they both could be blind sometimes. She was relieved to see Kíli’s relationship going well. When they both still looked at her expectantly, she said: “I doubt you will find something suitable for a courting overture here. Perhaps some pretty trinkets that could serve as presents later in your courting, but nothing personal enough to start it off.” She shook her head. “Never mind that neither of them particularly care about their fame and that their association with this treasury might be… troubled.”
Thorin and Dwalin looked around again, seeing the treasury with different eyes now. It had not even occurred to them to consider what kind of impression they could leave.
“They’re also not in it for your position or your money,” Dís pointed out. “You don’t need to show that off. They’re just Ones.” Honestly, the men in her life.
It was strange for Thorin. He had never been considered particularly attractive among dwarrow, those showing interest in him had always cared more about his position and title than himself. Bilbo couldn’t care less that he was king, that he was back in Erebor. So why was he going about it like he was one of those gold-diggers? Perhaps the market would serve him better after all. The gift might not be what most dwarrow would expect but the important point was that it would convince Bilbo to give him a chance. And perhaps another gift showing that he did not consider him helpless? He stood up quickly, eager to get to the market and take a look at the wares on offer.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Dís asked.
“You can go later. I’m here because we might have found a loophole to deal with the law.”
She was not surprised that she had their full attention now.
Nori was intrigued when he realized that Fíli was looking for him. It was not the first time he had followed him. As a little boy, he had often followed either him or Kára through the room. He picked a room somewhat higher up in the mountain, one that was safe but also far away enough that they would not be disturbed. Then he sent Kára to him while he waited in the room.
“Hello,” he greeted him when Fíli came in.
Nori waited patiently, watching as Fíli looked around the room, glancing at him as what passed as covertly for the royal family. He hoped that Thorin would soon finally start courting Bilbo. Dís could use the assistance with diplomatic matters. Mahal knew Thorin did not have the patience when it came to non-dwarrow and the princes still had to learn not to show their very thought on their faces.
“I wanted to thank you,” Fíli said after he had made the circuit of the room.
Nori inclined his head. “It is my duty to keep you alive and I had promised your mother that I would. But you are welcome.”
“Not just with Azog. Though, really, thank you for saving my life there, I would not be alive today without you. I also meant when I was young.” He looked up at Kára where he had taken a seat on a shelf hewn into the stone wall. “I’m starting to remember you – both of you – keeping me company after father…”
It had been a strange time. He had been too young to understand that his father was gone, that he would never come back. His mother had been very busy with her own grief, the aftermath their people were suffering after the battle and a new-born Kíli. Being able to play with Kára had been a nice distraction.
Nori smiled slightly. “I didn’t mind.”
“Balin thought I’d imagined Kára, based on stories about Ravenhill.” It was funny, in a way, that he had then ended up seeing him again on Ravenhill. “I wanted a raven a spirit animal. At least until we realized that Kíli and I are neither Guides nor Sentinels.”
“Have you considered that it is a good sign? Sentinels and Guides awaken when we are needed. Thorin, Dwalin, Bilbo and I, we were needed after we lost our home, on the quest to regain it and to destroy the One Ring. It’s a good sign for your future reign that you are not needed as Sentinel or Guide.”
“Perhaps. Though I hope it will be some time yet until I have to take the throne.” And hopefully Thorin would manage to marry Bilbo sometime soon. Bilbo’s influence would be good, for Thorin himself and for Erebor. “Will you tell me more about when you met me and mother? I would like so see if what I remember is correct.”
“If you like.”