Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from 'The Hobbit' and I do not in any way make a profit from this.
"Thank you Nori, your skills have proved most useful! Well done!"
The night is cold, but the fire warms Nori up as he sits in front of it. Unlike the rest of the company, besides Bofur who is on first watch, sleep eludes him and he relaxes against the log at his back while he stares into the camp fire. Thorin's words after his return to the companies resting spot float back to him every few minutes, keeping his centered on the dark haired dwarf. He'd been commended for a good job. Commended for thieving. By a future King!
The company had only been on the road for a few weeks since their departure from the Shire and had already managed to lose four of the supply packs they had started out with. The first pack had been lost because of Fili and Kili's clumsiness. The two had been roughhousing while laying out their bedrolls and setting aside their packs when Kili tripped Fili, making the blonde drop his pack directly into the flames of their campfire. Fili had panicked and tried to pull the pack out with unprotected hands and was rewarded with some painful blisters. Their uncle had given them a harsh talking to as Oin fixed Fili's hands up.
The loss of Fili's bedroll had the two brothers sharing. Not that the two seemed to mind so much, as they laughed along with everyone else while they were teased.
The other three packs had been swept away by a river they had needed to cross through. The river's current had proved stronger than it looked and about halfway through to the other side several of the packs strapped onto the ponies had been whisked away. More would have been lost if everyone hadn't started keeping sharp eyes and firm grips on their supplies.
The lost packs had rid them of several rather important items, such as food, two bedrolls, a few blankets, and money. They had trekked on, unable to replenish their supplies for two days until they came across a village. They had traveled on about an hour after they had passed the village before Thorin called the group to a stop.
Nori had been helping Ori and Dori pull the packs off their ponies when Dwalin had walked over to the three of them.
"Thorin wants to talk to ya." The bald dwarf says gruffly, eyeing Nori with a glare.
"Does he? Whatever for?" Dori asks, frowning at the bigger man while Nori meets the glare with a sharp, toothy grin.
"Not sure. Was just told to come and get 'im." Dwalin shrugs, glancing over at Dori for a split second before his eyes return to Nori.
"Well then! Lead the way mister guardsman!" Nori grins as Dwalin's eyes narrow before he turns away and heads over to where the dark haired man sits under the shade of a tree. Nori pats Ori on the shoulder as he walks away from his brothers, a reassuring smile firmly in place. Ori watches him with worry and Dori watches him with suspicion.
'Probably thinks I'm about to get in trouble for stealing something.' Nori thinks blandly as they approach Thorin.
"You wanted something?" With a grunt he plops down next to his future King, extending his legs and leaning back on his elbows. Nori suppresses a grin when Dwalin's mouth twitches in annoyance. Thorin looks at him for a moment before turning back to the rest of the group setting up camp, silent for a moment.
"We need new supplies, but lack sufficient funds to buy them. I'd like you to procure replacements for the ones we've lost." Thorin's blue eyes are stern as he frowns at the company's burglar, who is struggling to unstrap his pack from Myrtle. Nori smiles when Thorin's eyes linger longer than necessary. "Perhaps a few extra rations of food, if you can manage it."
"I can manage just fine your majesty!" Nori says cockily. He hadn't had the opportunity to snatch anything up in a while and he'd begun to get antsy. "I'll just gather up a few things and be off." Thorin nods his head at him before standing and making his way over to his nephews. Dwalin stands in the same spot and frowns at Nori as he stands and pats at his trousers to remove any grass that might be stuck to them. Without a word Nori slides past the bigger dwarf and makes his way back over to his brothers and his pack.
"What did Mister Thorin want, Nori?" Ori asks nervously, fidgeting with his bedroll as he pulls it from his pack. Nori pats him on the head and kneels down to dig through his things.
"Nothing bad. I'm just gonna make a quick trip back to that village we passed a while ago. Should be back a few hours after nightfall."
"Why do you need to go? Why didn't we just stop in while we were passing?" Dori asks, eyes narrowed as he watches his younger brother pull out a dark cloak.
"Well I have the best haggling skills in the whole bunch, brother! And no one would take too kindly to a bunch of dwarves running amok in their town. I can get everything we need quick and with the least cost to our pockets, of course!" Nori grins at his brother's angry glower.
"You've been sent to steal?" Dori asks darkly.
"Well if you want to think about it that way, go ahead." Nori turns back to Ori's worried eyes and pulls his little brother into a hug. "I'll be back soon. Make sure Dori doesn't faint from all of his worrying!" Dori splutters angrily and Ori laughs and hugs his brother back tightly.
"Be careful Nori." The little brunette murmurs into his neck and Nori squeezes tighter in comfort.
As he's passing into the line of trees Nori sends one last glance at his brothers and sends them a wave. He's only a few minutes gone before a tight grip envelopes his bicep, halting him. Nori's quick enough to slip a blade from his sleeve and hold it up to his attacker's neck before any retaliation can be made. He looks up into Dwalin's stormy blue eyes and steps back when his arm is released.
"Only take what we need, thief." The tattooed dwarf growls and Nori grins sharply up at him with a short laugh.
"Of course. I'll be off now, don't want to drag this trip out any longer than I need to." Nori turns away from the larger man and saunters back onto the trail in the direction they had come from. If he hadn't been paying attention to the angry huffs coming from behind him, he might have missed the quietly grumbled, "and don't get caught."
'No need to worry about that. It's no fun being caught if you aren't the one catching me.'
His pace is slow, and he hopes that by the time he gets there it will be suitably dark enough for him to slip through the shadows without be noticed. The sun is beginning to set and he allows his mind to wander back to Dwalin. He only knew the dwarf on a 'professional' level, they'd never talked outside of their routine chases and the few captures back in Ered Luin. Nori enjoyed traveling, but he also needed to leave certain towns for a while when things took a turn for the worst with his activities. Sometimes someone will feel (some rightfully and some not so rightfully) cheated or the guardsmen take a keen interest in catching him and he'd need to skip town for a short while. He never stayed away from Ered Luin too long though. He enjoyed visiting his little brother, even if it drove Dori crazy whenever he would show up again with stolen little trinkets.
In Ered Luin he had only been caught and thrown in a cell three times. All of those times were by Dwalin. The first time had come as quite the shock. He'd been so confident that he'd slipped the guards, who had stormed after him when they'd spotted him picking a random dwarfs pocket, as soon as he had slipped into an alley way. But just as he had been about to leap onto the roof, a large hand had gripped him by the back of the neck and thrown him face first into a wall. He'd been so dazed by the impact of his head and the stone that he hadn't thought to struggle against the cuffs being locked around his wrists, or the rough treatment he was given as he was dragged to the guard station. The bald dwarf who had caught him hadn't even sent him a second glance as Nori had been tossed into his a cell. He'd spent two days in the cell before he figured out how to pick the lock, and with those two days he'd done his best to get the big dwarf who brought him in to talk to him. He'd been so bored with nothing to do, but the big lug would just glare at him and growl at him to shut up with all the questions and whining.
When Dwalin, whose name he learned from a cell mate, found out that he'd escaped had been enraged. The guard had made an extra effort to catch him whenever he caught sight of Nori's three peaked hairstyle. Not that he really succeeded most of the time. The two had crossed each other many times before he was again caught. Nori made a bit of a game of it. Whenever he noticed Dwalin in the street he'd choose a spot in the dwarf's line of sight and make a show of stealing something. The chases they shared never failed to thrill Nori, he always got so excited when Dwalin's eyes would land on him and light up with such fire.
By the time he makes it back to the village everything is peaceful and quiet.
'This'll be easy.' He ends up only making three stops before he has everything they need. A quick trip through the local pub and his pockets are full of the patrons' coin, easily slipping out of the building before anyone notices their pockets have been thoroughly emptied.
The second stop he makes is too a small two story home with an open bedroom window without a light on. Shimmying up to the roof isn't a hard task for him and slipping through the window without a noise is even less effort. He's lucky to find several bedrolls in a closet on the upper floor of the house with several packs stored on an upper shelf. He fastens five of the packs onto him and shoves two of the bed rolls into one of the packs with an extra blanket taken from the large bedroom.
The last stop is a food shop's pantry. Four of the packs are filled and heavy with food, making him wish he'd brought a pony or someone to help carry the extra weight, but he's happy with the new inventory. He'd found several dried meats that he knew Ori favored. He'd even grabbed some wine that he thought Dori would like.
No one notices the lithe dwarf slipping away into the forest with five packs strung about his person.
When he slips back into the company's campsite, he expected to find everyone asleep, but Thorin and Dwalin had sat awake at the campfire. When they spotted him and his load they both stood and helped relieve him of some of the burden. Just as he'd been about to move to his bedroll next to his brothers, Thorin had clapped him on the back and commended him! With a thanks! He hadn't been thanked by anyone, aside from Ori when he'd bring his little brother gifts, in so long and he was surprised out how pleasant the praise of his skill felt. Usually people just cursed at him.
When he thinks back on it, Thorin was one of the few members of the company who hadn't treated him with suspicion or wariness. The dark haired Dwarf hadn't once insinuated that he was a bad person like Dwalin and Dori liked to do whenever a young one wanted to learn one of Nori's tricks. He never really blamed people for having that view of him, in most ways they were right. But it did get to him after a while of constantly feeling eyes on him, making sure he wasn't up to anything unsavory.
One of the things he hated the most was the way people referred to him as thief. Everywhere he went in life he could hear that name trailing after him. He didn't mind it so much from Dwalin, he'd come to view it as an endearment from the bigger dwarf, much like his use of Dwalin's title as guardsman, but it still bothered him with others. They used it like it was his name! But for Aulë's sake he had a name, a good name given to him by a wonderful mother!
Whenever Thorin addressed Nori, it was by his name. Never thief. Just Nori. Heat had shot through him when Thorin had smiled at him for doing a good job. He's sure he let the surprise show on his face before he could mask it, and hoped it hadn't been noticed. The thought that Thorin didn't treat him less than any of the others for his thieving had warmed Nori up and he was both embarrassed and annoyed with himself.
He knew that associating such a nice, warm feeling to Thorin was a bad idea because those thoughts could only lead him to wanting something that could never happen. Not just because Thorin was of royal but because he'd noticed the curious looks sent the little Hobbits way while they had been traveling.
He liked Bilbo, had held many conversations with the kind little fellow and had witnessed Bilbo cast his own curious little glances at Thorin. He could see that there wasn't quite an attraction between the two as of yet, but there was an interest from which attraction could grow if things went well. Nori sincerely hoped they went well for the two. The happy little hobbit would be good for their constantly sulking King. They would make an attractive couple.
But that didn't mean he couldn't look and want.
He stands with a wide yawn, and bids Bofur goodnight as he makes his way to his bedroll. Lying on his back and looking up at the stars for a moment, Nori lets himself believe for a moment that everything will end happily once their adventure comes to an end.