- Death-Minor Character
- Canon Divergent
He'd really prefer another quest.
“You’re going to the market with me,” Bilbo huffed.
Nori stared at him, surprised by the abrupt words. No greeting, no lead up, just that one sentence. There was only one reason for him to be this worked up. “What did Thorin do?”
“It’s what he hasn’t done. We’ve been back for years. I can see and feel his interest and yet he still hasn’t made a move.”
“He has asked you to stay,” Nori pointed out. He started leading the way to the market.
“He has. He even managed to apologize for making it sound like I’m helpless. But he has yet to admit that there is more between us, that he’s my Sentinel. I even talked to Balin, Ori and Dís, to be unsure I’m not just missing his signs because I’m not familiar with dwarrow courtship but he’s not doing anything to hint at a relationship, a bond, not by dwarrow, human or hobbit standards.” Bilbo snorted. “I’m patient but not that patient.”
“What do you intend to do?” Nori asked, intrigued. This promised to be very entertaining.
“I’m going to cook for him.” When Nori made a quiet, inquisitive sound, he elaborated: “It’s a common step in a courtship among hobbits. A Guide prepares a private meal for the Sentinel they’re interested in. It’s a show of skill, making a meal full of different flavours and textures while still not causing a Sentinel’s senses to spike uncontrollably. Recipes are often passed down within a family. And I’ve learned the recipes of the Tooks and Bagginses.”
“Well, a show of skill is common among dwarrow as well,” Nori said. “Did you have something specific in mind?”
“Not yet. It depends on what I can get from the market. Perhaps something with venison. I know how much you dwarrow like your meat. Perhaps some venison?”
“Venison would be well appreciated, I think. Tauriel might be able to help you out there. But we should see what is available first.” And perhaps he would manage to be nearby when Thorin was faced with Bilbo’s courtship overture.
Thorin sighed in relief. They had finally managed to adjust the law. Balin had spend some days fine-tuning the exact wording. It needed to be open to allow the spymaster to acknowledge their One while still making clear their responsibilities. He was not worried about Nori, he had more than proved his loyalty to them, even without his joining the quest and in the battle for Erebor and then going on a potentially deadly mission in his stead. His bonding with his cousin and the head of his guard was hardly going to challenge his loyalty. But the wording had to work for future spymasters and rulers as well. Setting up the alternative to the agreement of his full council had been easy in comparison.
His stomach growled. He’d worked through lunch but he was too tired for dinner in the common mess hall. Fortunately Dís had expected that and had arranged for dinner to wait for him in his rooms. He would have to do or find something nice for her as thank you.
Another present he had to look for. He was still trying to find the perfect gift for Bilbo to serve as courting overture. He had a chest full of gifts for him now but nothing good enough to be his first gift. After how badly he had behaved towards Bilbo, even without when he had been lost to goldsickness, it needed to be sufficient to get Bilbo to consider marrying him. Something as perfect as his One. Perhaps he could ask Ori. Now that he was no longer busy researching laws, he could tell him all that Bilbo had mentioned about hobbits on their journey. Or he could ask Bard who – about – he could –
Thorin stopped and just stared. Bilbo was in his rooms. With a spread of food that looked and smelled wonderful. Bilbo, wearing only the mithril shirt he had gifted him over his trousers. Bilbo with his hair unbound from the simple braid he had kept it in after it got too long for him on the road.
Bilbo smiled at him. “Good evening, Thorin. I hope you’re hungry.” He frowned when there was no reply. Had he overdone it with the spices and caused Thorin to get lost in the scent alone? “Thorin?”
“Yes. Yes, I’m hungry.” Then, belatedly, he added: “Good evening.” Wonderful, very smooth. Bilbo was surely impressed by his eloquence. Thorin felt like he could hear Dís and Nori laughing at him.
“I thought we could have dinner together, if you don’t mind.”
“I’d like that.” Right, good, he’d keep the sentences short until he had found his feet again. Having dinner together would give him time. Time alone with his One.
“Very good. I’ve prepared a few family recipes.”
“Family recipes? I am honoured.” He took the seat Bilbo indicated and let Bilbo fill his plate. “I wasn’t aware that you cook.”
“Food, both growing and preparing it, is very important to hobbits. It’s a matter of pride to be skilled at it.”
Thorin barely managed not to let out a moan when he took his first bite. “You are certainly very good at cooking. I’m afraid I don’t know how to judge what I saw of your garden back in the Shire.” He was pleased to see Bilbo smile at the compliment.
“Thank you. I am happy you like it.” He started eating as well.
Thorin tried to come up with another topic of conversation to keep them talking during their meal but he kept getting distracted. The taste and texture of the individual dishes was so varied and yet it all fit together. His sense of taste and, to a somewhat lesser extent, his sense of smell were the senses he used least. Sight, hearing and touch were more important, both in the mountain and on the road. He found that he enjoyed the opportunity to give those two senses a workout. “I see you’re wearing the mithril shirt,” he finally managed.
Bilbo smiled at him again and ran a hand down the shirt, as if trying to smooth it down. “Yes, I like your present a lot. Its protection was a relief on the way to Mordor.”
“I’m… pleased. That you liked my present.” Good, so he liked that kind of present as well. Perhaps he could convince him to accept another sword, in addition to his elven dagger? Or perhaps throwing daggers?
“If you enjoyed the food, then perhaps I could cook for you again?”
“I would like that.” Thorin was happy about any opportunity to spend time with Bilbo, especially time alone with him. And perhaps he’d get inspiration for his gift.
“Good, then you accept my courtship overture?”
Thorin froze, certain he must have misheard.
Bilbo smiled gently. “In the Shire, one way to start a courtship between a Sentinel and a Guide is for the Guide to cook for the Sentinel, showing off their skills, both at cooking and at engaging the Sentinels senses.”
“You still want to bond with me? Even with the way I acted?” Thorin shook his head, hardly able to believe his luck. “I can’t even say I proved how capable in battle I am. You’re right, without you, I would not have survived.”
“I want you, Thorin Oakenshield. Regardless of your title or your battle progress. You are the Sentinel the Valar have created for me, so I want that bond.” He sighed. “And that wedding I’m pretty sure your sister is already planning so it will best satisfy your people.”
“Bilbo!” he gasped, reaching for him. He needed to feel him, to be sure that Bilbo was really here, that this was not just a dream again. Not that Bilbo had been this forward even in his best dreams.
Bilbo’s smile was so full of love as he squeezed Thorin’s hands, holding them as he walked around the table and slipped into Thorin’s lap. “You are my Sentinel. I want to finally have that bond.”
Thorin pulled his closer, needing to feel him as close as possible. “Bilbo. Bilbo, my Guide. My One.” He allowed himself to glut himself on his hobbit. Sight, hearing and smell were already familiar. He had been unable to refrain from at least periodically focusing on him when he was near since he had finally acknowledged to himself who Bilbo was to him. Now he was allowed to touch. Bilbo’s curls, his soft skin, unmarred by scars, the calluses on his hands, his hands kept moving, needing to feel him, to catalogue the different sensations. The only thing missing was taste. “May I kiss you?”
Bilbo nodded, smile stretching, then leaned in.
Thorin was lost. Lost and yet finally at home at the same time. The moment he tasted Bilbo, he felt the remnants of his casual bond with Dwalin dissolve, replaced by a far stronger bond with Bilbo. It filled a hole inside himself he had not been completely aware of. He could feel Bilbo, not just physically but also as part of himself. Even without trying, he knew that no distance would be too great, he would always be able to feel his Guide with him. “My Guide.”
Nori was still sniggering slightly when he entered the rooms he shared with his brothers. He and Dís had listened from her room to make sure that Thorin actually showed up for the dinner Bilbo had prepared and did not go elsewhere before giving them privacy. He smiled when he felt his casual bond with Bilbo dissolve, followed by the sensation of the two of them broadcasting all the love and giddiness they were currently feeling.
“Ah, Nori, you have a guest,” Dori said as he came in.
“Hello Nori,” Dwalin greeted him.
Nori was surprised to see him. He and Dwalin were unbonded now that Thorin and Bilbo had finally bonded but he was still the spymaster, the remaining council members not yet back in Erebor to sign the changes to the law forbidding the spymaster from marrying or bonding.
Dwalin cleared his throat, then held out a scroll to him.
Nori accepted it slowly, wondering if it was a kind of promise for the future. His eyes widened when he saw that it was the amended law, signed and sealed. “How-?”
“Balin and Dís found a loophole. If the council is not complete and the members so far from the mountain that they can not return within a month, their votes can be cast by masters of the guilds of Erebor,” Dwalin explained. “So Balin, Óin und (NAME), one of the architects Dís brought with her. And Thorin filled the remaining two council seats with dwarrow deserving recognition. Bofur and Dori.”
Nori turned to stare at his older brother. He had not mentioned that before.
“Your little one helped us keep it a secret. We thought you’d like the surprise,” Dori said.
He’d have to talk to Thoile about this.
“We thought that your family deserves to finally take their place among the nobles,” Dwalin said quietly.
Nori swallowed hard. He’d made his peace with the disrespect many had for them, as children without fathers, of an illegitimate branch of the royal family, but he knew it had been hard on his brothers. Being acknowledged, given a place among the nobles and on the council would do them and their ambitions good.
“When I… when I told the company that you’re my Sentinel, Dori said that I would have to get that old law abolished, Thorin to apologize to and reconcile with Bilbo, then successfully court him before I can begin to court you.” Dwalin pointed at the scroll Nori was still holding. “The law is changed. Thorin managed to convince Bilbo to bond with him. Tell me, what would you like me to do to prove myself worthy of the honour of bonding with you?”
Prove himself? Whatever more could he demand? Dwalin had worked with Thorin to adjust the law even though he had no interest in and no patience for politics. He had got his brothers the position they wanted and needed to make it easier for them to follow their dreams. He was here now, offering his courtship and bond in front of his brothers, not just a casual tumble or a secret affair. He would gladly accept any present Dwalin liked to give him but he figured Thorin and Bilbo had the right idea. Why wait? “Bond with me.”
“I don’t need you to prove yourself. I know that I want you.” He grinned. “You can court me all properly if you like since our wedding will after to wait until after Thorin and Bilbo’s.” He stepped up into Dwalin’s personal space, grabbed his beard and pulled him into a kiss.
“You can do the actual bonding in your room,” Dori said sharply but when Nori glanced at him, he saw the way his lips we twitching, even as he tried to look stern.
Nori could not help the giddy laugh he let out. “Don’t mind if we do.” He pulled Dwalin along.
Dwalin could not keep his eyes off Nori. When they got to Nori’s room, he stopped. “I want this bond. I’ve wanted it since I realized you’re a Sentinel. But, just for now, can we bond platonically? I’m not ready yet for us to have sex.” They were Ones, made for one another by Mahal. When they had sex the first time, he wanted it to be something he could concentrate on, not get lost in their bonding, in trying to get used to guiding a new Sentinel. He grimaced. “And perhaps when Thorin and Bilbo are not broadcasting how much they’re enjoying the sex they’re having?” Thorin was like his brother. He had no interest in experiencing him having sex, even indirectly.
Nori laughed, resting his forehead on Dwalin’s shoulder. “Yes, I’m all for keeping our sex life separate from theirs.” He straightened back up, then said formally: “Let me offer you shelter, Guide.”
“I accept.” He placed his hands on Nori’s hips and pulled him close again, the way he had been imagining for weeks now. “My Sentinel.” Then he also reached out to Nori with his empathy.
“My Guide.” Nori reached out, trailing his fingers gently over Dwalin’s features and through his beard, the path his gaze had travelled so often. He concentrated on his heartbeat and breathing, the way it quickened as their bond started to grow between them. His nostrils flared, taking in Dwalin’s smell, mouth open slightly to get a first taste in that way. He held Dwalin’s gaze, then leaned in to kiss him. He sighed contently when he felt the last strand of their bond slide into place.
Thoile silently slipped away towards Dís’ room, to let her know that those four had finally bonded and to finalize the plans for the next few days. They deserved a bit of privacy for their bonds to settle properly. Fortunately for them, they were all very happy to give them this time. Planning with Dís was always a pleasure.
Nori should have probably considered that when he had left her behind as Dís’ contact.