Look at Me
This will be in three parts and is a bit AU, but you will understand in the end.
Sometimes I wish you looked at me like you look at him. You never did. You cared for me. Doted on me. Mothered me. Your eyes gave you away. You loved me, but you didn't trust me. You watched my every move. You questioned my every action. You made me question myself until I just didn't care anymore. Everything I did was questioned and nothing I did was good enough. You pushed and urged me in directions you wanted me to go. You forgot to ask me my opinions. You forgot to ask me what I wanted. You forgot…me. You saw a troublesome brother, but you didn't see me.
You created an image of what you thought I was and stopped really seeing me anymore. Then the dragon came and we ran and mother grew sick from the smoke. We were starving and the baby came early. You cared for mother and our new, baby brother and I was too young to work. It hurt to steal that first purse. I was not sly. I was not dishonest. I did have morals. I wanted to be a good dwarf and I was fast and nimble. Mother was sick. Ori was premature and you had to care of them all and so I did what was needed to do to buy the food and buy the medications. You pointed your finger. You yelled at me. You accused me of always having this side of me. You said if this continued I'd never amount to much, but there were no other monies for food and you never turned away what we needed to survive. The mix messages were confusing and again I gave up trying to understand you. I decided I just didn't care. Mother returned to the stone and we mourned. We were all three too young for all of this.
Over time, I found out how good I was at being sly. I found out how good I was at being dishonest. I found out how easy it was to forget morals. What point was there to be a good dwarf when you were suspected of being a bad one all the time. I wanted you to understand me, but what I really wanted more than anything was to really be seen by you. You never looked. Your eyes were always for Ori and never did I begrudge that, but sometimes I wished you looked at me like you looked at him. You did not.
Time marched on and you accused me of being a bad influence on Ori so I left. You wrote and said I was missed and so I came back. You hated my hair. You hated my manners. You hated my clothes. You hated my ways. You hated my weapons. It felt like you hated me. Ori loved me though. Hugged me tight and saw me. Our baby brother really saw me. The real me. The one that I wish you could see. That was the greatest balm to my spirit that ached so much to be seen.
Things were hard for you in Ered Luin. Work was not plentiful and neither did you make enough for our bills and Ori's apprenticeship. I worked to get the coins that you owed for debts and paid off the rest of the apprenticeship fees. Again, I was the bad influence and so I left. I lost myself then. I became everything you accused me of being and traveled the world. Why not? I was the untrusted one anyway and I'm sure you did not miss me. Why shouldn't I live up to my title? It was not until a knife in the gut that I realized that things had gone too far. I mourned as I lie dying in a village not far from Ered Luin. Now I would never be seen by you or anyone else. To my surprise, when I woke you were there in the healer's wing. You were crying joyful tears. I prayed you finally saw me. I was too weak to speak, but you carried me all the way home and cared for me. I felt like the treasured child again, but again those eyes gave you away. Please look harder. I'm here, Brother.
You put your foot down and told me that my old ways were done as I healed. Confusion swirled through my mind. What else did I have to fall back on? I had become what you decided I would be. I hadn't wanted any of this, but I wouldn't have changed the way any of it had happened. My family would have died and I had no regrets for doing what need to be done. I was no miner, no true blacksmith, no jeweler, no scribe, no…anything. If I wasn't a thief, then what was I? I was so tired of fighting to be seen.
Ori needed you more than I did and your focus shifted back to him once I was well. I was already used to being unseen so the hurt didn't last. I'd try to straighten out for you though and kept to the shadows. No one knew that I began slipping hints to the guards. No one knew that the crime rate dropped because I kept my ears open. One suspected. A guard who gazed at me differently. One of noble blood with two axes and wild looks. I think…I hoped that he saw me, but your nagging never ceased. You didn't see me. You were the one that I wanted to see me the most.
Then Ori signed on for the damn quest and you and I refused to allow him to go alone. The journey was terrible and wonderful and enlightening all in one. We nearly died on several occasions and I realized that several dwarves within our company began to see me. The feeling was vindicating to be seen. I wish you would look too. We won back Erebor and fought together in the Battle of Five Armies. You protected Ori's back, but forgot your own. I stepped in.
You caught me as I fell. You finally saw me. You finally looked at me like you looked at him. That was all I ever wanted. I go to Mahal's Halls happy and at peace. I am no longer Nori the black sheep of the family. I am Nori the brother who loved his family more than himself. I feel your tears on my face. I am at peace, Brother. I go with no regrets. I died with honor and I had you at my side. What more could any dwarf ever ask for? Take care of Ori and remember me as I am now. This is the real me. I love both of you dearly. Goodbye.