Author's Note: Well, I was planning to write a story about how Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur ended up joining the Company, but then I read a really fantastic story about the same events that someone else had written, and since I could never top it, I decided not to write it.
So, here's a story I wrote on the suggestion of the lovely Dunadanka, who thought that it might be interesting to hear a bit about a possible prank war, with Kili and Fili on one side, and Ori on the other. I thought it was interesting and a bit challenging so here it is. I'm not quite sure how well it turned out but I worked hard on it and I hope it's alright. It gave me a chance to try and get used to writing more about Ori. Er...enjoy.
One More Annoying Note: Since I hadn't a clue what Dori and Ori did for a living, I narrowed the jobs that Balin mentioned in the film down, and made them tinkers or tinsmiths. I probably got it wrong, so sorry.
Ori was feeling rather happy. It was an indisputable fact. If you sat down and thought about the matter for a whole hour, it is highly unlikely that you could find a single thing that Ori had to be unhappy about.
Well, there were a few small matters that might have troubled him, one of them featuring a certain dragon of the large and treasure-loving variety that was really making itself at home in what had been the greatest city in Middle-Earth, but even that problem seemed to fade away in the face of all the things that were, for once, going right.
Business was going unusually well, for start, and that had put Dori in a good mood as well, and now there was also talk among the other dwarves living in the Blue Mountains of some sort of venture to reclaim Erebor.
Oh, there were always rumors of that sort, but this one was being linked to Thorin Oakenshield, himself, which was another reason for Ori to be in high spirits. Thorin Oakenshield was one of the only dwarves that Ori knew who could have come straight out of one of the stories that he'd read - the ones about the great heroes that were always worth rereading.
Which made sense, because that was exactly what Thorin was. Not that he'd ever proclaimed himself such, but that's how he was considered amongst a great many dwarves, and that was how Ori always thought of him. And if Thorin might be planning an expedition, then...well, foolish as it might be to listen to gossip of that sort, Ori couldn't help feeling excited.
And now, arriving back at the home where he lived with his older brother, Dori, there seemed to be yet another reason for Ori's happiness.
Their home was really just the back room of a tinsmith's shop that Dori owned and worked in, and for which Ori kept track of all business in the account books, and not particularly large at that, so the instant that Ori entered he saw who was waiting for him.
"Nori...?" he said, after a moment of open-mouthed staring at the dwarf in question.
Ori could be excused this rather timid utterance, as it had been a good many years since he had last seen his second brother and it was quite a shock to see him sitting there, perched on the back room's only table, eating what was, he realized, the meat pie that was supposed to be Dori's supper.
"Hello, Ori," said Nori, around a mouthful of meat and pie crust "It took me a while to find out where you and Dori were living - in the end I ran into Bofur in an inn (wouldn't have recognized him, but for that hat, either) and he pointed me in the right direction."
"We - we didn't know you were coming back," Ori said, weakly, still not quite believing his eyes "So we decided to set ourselves up here."
"You might've left directions for me, or something," said Nori, before lowering his voice a little and sounding uncharacteristically earnest "I missed both of you, though."
And he must have, too, Ori thought. If memory served, you used to have to badger Nori for half an hour before he got on to the subject of how he felt about anything more important than the weather.
"Well, I missed you," said Ori, which was also true, although as time wore on he'd gotten more and more accustomed to his brother's absence "And Dori has too - well, he's never actually said anything about it, but I know he has..." here Ori hesitated, unsure whether or not to mention their older brother's many rather unflattering statements on the subject of Nori's character, morals, and general lack of sense "Anyway, why've you come back now, of all times?"
"Oh, just thought I'd visit," Nori said, vaguely, as Ori ducked into the front room to surreptitiously check that none of the tools or pots and pans were missing, and feeling horribly guilty even as he did so "I've been waiting here for a while, too. Thorin's nephews - Fili and Kili, yes? - came in for a bit, but when I told them you and Dori weren't here they left quite quickly."
"I wonder what they wanted," said Ori, opening the large, leather bound tome that sat on the work table and in which he detailed the financial assets of their business. He flipped through a few pages, more to admire the curving black letters that he'd carefully inscribed earlier that day than to check that everything was in order.
Behind him he heard the door open, and cringed, bracing himself for what Dori's potential reaction might be.
"How did youget here?"
"Well, Dori, I turned left at Eriador and -"
"Don't mess about - you know perfectly well what I meant," said Dori, and Ori could imagine the suspicious look that he was most likely giving Nori "Have you come to lie low? Because I told you last time, we're not having you back if you're on the run from whichever authorities you've made angry this time..."
Ori, clutching his accounts book to his chest as if for protection, edged back out of the front room and sat down at the table, trying not to attract the attention of his two brothers, both of whom were well occupied bickering.
He remembered enough of Nori's last visit to know that it would be useless to try and get a word in, let alone make an attempt at trying to make peace. In a way, it seemed that this was really how Nori and Dori showed affection for one another, and he doubted very much whether either of them meant anything by it.
"I think I might as well do a little writing...?" he said to no one in particular, his voice all but drowned out by those of his brothers.
He laid the accounts book on the table and flipped it open to the appropriate page, and then reached for his inks. Now, where to start...
He laid pen to page and drew it down and around for the first curve of the 'g' in 'gained', expecting to see the inky black line appear...
But it didn't. Instead a thick, glistening substance trailed from the tip of his pen and left an unpleasant looking smudge on the paper. Ori blinked, and looked from the pen to the page and back again several times, his mouth opening and closing.
"Honey..." he said, after a few seconds of sheer bemusement.
This remark apparently drew the attention of his two older brothers who stared at him questioningly.
"What?" they both said, almost at the same time, both frowning in confusion.
"Someone," said Ori, slowly, leaning back to show them the page "Someone switched my inks with...honey."
"It wasn't me," Nori said, instantly, not even waiting for someone to suggest his potential involvement.
"Well, who was it, then?" asked Dori, spreading his hands helplessly.
They looked at the honey-smeared paper. Then they looked at the pen. Then they looked at each other. All three of them were slowly reaching the same conclusion.
"Fili and Kili."
"Ah," Nori said, nodding thoughtfully "I thoughtKili was fiddling with those inks for a bit too long..."
"But - but they can't do that," said Ori, throwing down his ruined pen and looking up at his two brothers in consternation, his good mood officially a thing of the distant past "They can't!"
"It's not like there's not much that you can do to stop them," Dori said, perhaps not terribly helpfully, before noticing Nori opening his mouth to deliver a mystified 'why?'"They always do things like that - they never mean any harm by it. They're young, and, well, they're of the Line of Durin..."
"We'reof the Line of Durin," Nori objected "Well, sort of. Distantly. Somewhere along the line, at any rate. And Ori's young - younger than Kili and Fili, for certain."
"That's not the point," said Ori, feeling a little annoyed at being spoken of as if he wasn't there "What can I do to teach them a lesson?"
Both Dori and Nori were a little taken aback by this, as it hadn't truly occurred to either of them that perhaps revenge might be a possibility that Ori would consider.
"Bucket of slops over the door of the forge, or wherever they work," Nori said, recovering first "It'd be quick and effective - not to mention entertaining for anyone watching."
"You can't -" began Dori.
"But, just getting them covered in slops - it's not...satisfying enough," Ori said, looking at Nori earnestly "If you really think about it, it'd be best to put the bucket where someone else would be likely to get drenched. Then everyone would think that Kili and Fili did it, and they'd be angry at them."
"Where are they living these days?" asked Nori, over Dori's protests "Because you could always put it there while they're out, and maybe get Dis..."
Ori paused, an internal struggle raging. Dis was kind enough, not to mention being Thorin Oakenshield's own sister, and Ori had a good deal of respect for her. It was, in fact, utterly against his nature to go around soaking decent, and noble dwarves in slops just because their sons happened to have a liking for tricks...
But the fact that Fili and Kili had gone far enough to touch his inks! Spoil a sheet of his paper! There were some grounds too sacred to be defiled...
This was a matter of honor, plain and simple.
"So, do either of you know where I can find a good bucket?" he said, at last.
Much too early the next morning, Ori shot bolt upright in bed, awoken rather unpleasantly by a furious explosion of knocking. By the sound of it, someone was not only pummeling the sturdy oak door with their fists but also kicking it with some considerable force.
"Open this door now!" bellowed a voice from outside.
Nori, who Ori would have sworn was fast asleep on his pile of blankets, was on his feet in the blink of an eye and looking around warily, with the air of someone who has heard the words 'open this door' quite frequently issuing from the mouths of various authorities.
'"It's Fili," Ori told him, quietly, by now out of bed and feeling distinctly nervous.
"Open the door or we'll kick it down!" yelled a second voice, who had evidently moved on from 'angrily' several minutes ago, and was now well into 'irately' territory.
"Oh, and Kili, too," said Nori, in a matter-of-fact way that Ori wished he was brave enough to imitate.
In the farthest bed from the door, Dori groaned and sat up, rubbing his eyes and then frowning as he connected the insistent racket to the door.
"Who is that? Have you done something, Nori?" he asked, more out of habit than anything else, getting up and looking at the middle brother suspiciously. He had to speak quite loudly, because the noise had swelled remarkably - the two dwarves outside now apparently throwing themselves bodily at the door.
"Not this time. No, unless I'm much mistaken, this is the result of a large bucket full of...well, let's not go into that now, emptying its contents onto someone's head..." said Nori, and there was something in his voice that gave Ori the distinct impression that despite the fact that Kili and Fili were attempting to enter their house with what seemed to be an intention to commit murder, he was enjoying the situation immensely "Out of interest, are we going to wait until they bash down the door to do something?"
"Well, what do suggest we do?" said Dori, grumpily. He wasn't really at his best in the mornings.
"We could let them in," Nori said, calmly "No point putting off the inevitable, eh?"
Ori paled at this suggestion, and looked at his older brothers with wide eyes. Nori couldn't be serious, could he?
"But...they're going to kill me," he said, his voice squeaking a bit more than he'd intended, as he took a few steps away from the door
"You'll have to hide, then," said Nori, putting his hand on the small of Ori's back and propelling him towards the front room, before looking back over his shoulder at Dori "I haven't been here for long enough - where's the best place?"
Dori sighed but followed them, pointing to a small work table upon which various pots and pans in varying degrees of disrepair were laid out.
"Under there," he said, as behind him in the back room the door shook on its hinges.
Ori didn't need to be told twice, and scrambled to what he sincerely hoped was safety, under the table, watching as Nori grabbed a blanket off Dori's bed and arranged it like a tablecloth, the better to hide him from anyone who might glance downwards.
He could hear Dori cross the room, and then heard the door begin to creak open slowly. Well, it started off creaking slowly, and then went the rest of the way at a great speed (and with an even greater bang), as Kili and Fili shoved it open.
"Right," Ori heard Kili say "Where is he?"
"Who?" asked Nori, apparently choosing to adopt a manner of deliberate imbecility.
"Ori, of course!" Fili snapped, impatiently "The little twit put a bucket of filthy muck over our door!"
Well, to be painfully honest, he didn't say 'twit'. No, he used a dwarvish word of the short, sharp and rather coarse variety, that I'm sure you can fill in for yourself, if you really must. Suffice to say that it made Dori purse his lips in disapproval, and had Nori making a note of it for future use.
Ori didn't know what it meant at all, which might have been a blessing, all things considered.
"Why are you blaming Ori for it?" said Dori, doing a fairly good impression of someone who was genuinely bemused.
"Good point," Nori said "If I remember correctly, there are quite a few dwarves who might do something of that kind. Ketill, Hrafni. Or Bofur, of course. Or Gisli."
There was a slight pause after this list, and Ori did his best not to breath loudly or even move an inch.
"No," said Fili, in quite a different voice than the one that he'd been using before "No, not Gisli."
"He's dead," explained Dori, after another pause "I should have told you, before, Nori."
"Troll," Kili said, simply, by way of explanation.
Ori realized that he had never heard Nori sound quite so uncomfortable, and the long silence that ensued was indeed one of the most uncomfortable that he'd ever experienced. Kili had been quite close to Gisli, who Ori remembered as being a decent sort, and who definitely hadn't deserved his demise three years before.
"So, why Ori?" prompted Dori at last, clearly eager to change the subject.
"Mmm..? Oh yes," Fili said, apparently struggling to gather his thoughts together "You see, Egill told us that he saw Ori approach our home, carrying the bucket."
"You don't get evidence like that every day," agreed Kili, also collecting himself and trying to regain his original vehemence "Which is why we've come here. To kill him."
"You're the ones who started it," Dori said, defending his little brother "You can't kill him for wanting to get his own back."
"It doesn't seem very much like you to take a simple joke the wrong way," said Nori, who seemed to be hazarding a guess based on what Ori had told him of the way that Kili and Fili had grown up "Out of interest, who got the slops in the face?"
"That's just it!" Kili said "It was Thorin!"
It was hard to tell whether it was Nori or Dori who had delivered this disbelieving remark first, although they both said it and both said it loudly. Not loudly enough to detract attention from the horrified yelp that Ori had let out, however.
Kili, who had heard it, reached down and, grasping him firmly by the shoulder, tugged the younger dwarf out from under the table. Ori had gone very pale, and his face was a mask of terror.
Thorin. Thorin Oakenshield.
Ori looked around, first at his brothers who were both rather on the pale side themselves, then at Fili and Kili who were eyeing him in a manner that implied that neither of them were feeling merciful.
"I'm - I'm sorry...?" he offered, weakly.
Kili, still not releasing Ori's shoulder, stared at down at him. The corners of his mouth began to twitch as he stared, and then to Ori's infinite surprise Kili burst out laughing.
"Oh, Ori," he managed to choke out between chortles "The look on your face..."
"Kili..." Fili began to say, shooting his brother a warning look "What's wrong with you?"
But despite his valiant efforts to remain stern faced, in a few moments Fili too had succumbed to helpless laughter. Some dwarves really don't take after their uncles...
Nori joined in the laughing, and then Dori began to chuckle too. Even Ori managed a nervous laugh, as he eyed his fellow dwarves as if not quite sure if they were all sane.
"So," he said, cautiously "You're not going to kill me, then?"
Fili, who had more or less regained control of himself, put an arm around his younger brother's shoulders and began to pull him out the door.
"No," he said, still shaking with mirth "No, we aren't. But we'll get revenge, one way or another."
They staggered out of sight, and in a moment or two their laughter had faded away. Dori, Nori, and Ori looked at each other for a long moment, digesting this last remark.
"Revenge?" said Ori, at last, and rather nervously too "What do they mean by that?"
"Well, Ori," Nori said, grinning practically from ear to ear "I'd say that a war has been declared. A - a war of wits and tricks, maybe. Might be fun..."