He hated him. No, he didn't hate him; he just hated what he did.
He watched him from the doorway as he fastened up his coat, his eyes focused and thick with determination. He knew where he was going and what he was up to. His brother may have been a thief, but he had consistency. His hair was perfectly braided and he looked reasonably clean. His attention to detail had not been the work of a recent she-dwarf who had caught his eye – rather the jewels she wore.
Nori's hands were slowly working on one of his coat buttons and Dori had had enough.
"And where're you off to?" He asked, copying the voice their mother had rightly used to deal with his younger sibling.
Nori sighed, indicating that the tone was accurate but he continued on with his buttons, his gaze now fixed on where Dori lingered.
"Nowhere that concerns you." He replied curtly.
Dori stepped forward and placed his hands on his hips, causing Nori to bite his cheek to stop himself from cackling at how his brother really did look like their Mother. "It very much concerns me, if I have to bail you out again."
Nori turned his back to his patronising words, his eyebrows furrowing at the truth behind them. Every time he had gotten caught he had always been rescued by his sibling. Sometimes Dori had even been waiting with the guards before Nori had even been brought to imprisonment, having watched him leave their house with his thieving head on.
"You're going down to the markets aren't you?!"
"And what of it?"
His tone was dry and it made the blood coursing through Dori's veins burn bright with rage. "Why can't you occupy yourself with some decent profession?!"
"It is decent!" Nori yelled back. He had no idea what argument he was trying to make – for all he knew, he had none, but the ever critical words of Dori forever made him angry. He knew he couldn't outshine his brother in strength, but he could outshine him on wit.
"But not honest!" Dori added, just as quickly.
He hated him. No, he didn't hate him; he just hated how he acted.
"I can take care of myself, Dori. Quit your worryi-"
"Are you going to the marketplace, Nori?" Came a soft voice.
"Ori?" uttered Dori as Nori turned to face where the voice had come from.
Their younger brother – barely waist high to his seniors – padded into the room, his small arms hugging his large red writing book to his chest. His favourite quill was held in his hand as if he had just been writing. Of course it had been his favourite; it had been given to him by Nori.
"Can you bring me along, please?" Ori asked innocently. He bowed his head, his eyes resting on the floor, his lip almost trembling. "Kili told me about the toyshop he went to with his uncle and brother… and I would very much like to visit it." His quill span innocently in his fingers as he tried to appear polite for his elders, as well as respectable.
Nori turned back to Dori and he was struck with that look that shook his bones. The look that made him feel guilty – a feeling that tugged at his heart strings. Whenever Dori was concerned, he could happily argue with him until he was blue in the mouth, but whenever Ori was concerned, he was an entirely different dwarf. The innocence that still radiated from his baby brother made him forget entirely about his secret life.
Nori turned and knelt down so he was eye level with Ori and he placed a caring hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ori, but not today. I've got some business to take care of." As he said his words he placed a hand on his chest almost swearing an oath. "Tomorrow, I promise." He ruffled Ori's hair cutely, desperately trying to blank out the heart break that was pouring from Ori's doe eyes.
He rose from his knees and walked to the door, avoiding the glances his elder brother was throwing at him, knowing full well what he was thinking, knowing full well what he should have rightly done.
"I'll see you when I come back." Nori called out to Ori.
The book Ori was cradling worked its way higher up his face, blocking away his frown. It had become his security blanket ever since and many a night he had cried onto the wrinkled leather cover, Nori and his Mama always being the reasons why.
"But…" Ori called out but it was too late, the door was shut and Nori was gone. "…sometimes you don't come back."
Dori looked down at his brother, his eyebrows furrowed in pity as he could see Ori's face fully covered by the book and all he could hear was the muffled, quiet sobs as tears spilled down his cheeks.
He hated him. No, he didn't hate him; he just hated how he broke his brother's heart.
Dori instantly knelt down and enveloped Ori, tightly hugging him close to his chest. "He'll come back," He whispered as he stroked the dwarrow's head, inwardly counting the coins he had saved up, wondering if it were enough for Nori's soon-to-be bail. Ori pulled away from his brother and rubbed his damp eyes with his sleeve. "Why don't you go and write some more?" Dori opined, trying to take Ori's mind off their brother.
"I'm all out of ideas," Ori squeaked back, trying to hold back more tears.
Dori ushered for Ori to follow him towards a large chest next to their burning fireplace. He unlocked and lifted the heavy chest and Ori's eyes widened behind his book as a loud creak reverberated around the room. Dori picked the dwarrow up in his arm and held him in one hand, using his other to rifle through the contents of the chest.
"Does anything in here give you ideas?" He asked.
He picked up item after item – their father's old pipe, a broken bracelet that had belonged to their mother and even an old pen knife that Dori used to sharpen Ori's quills. With every item he checked for a sign of approval in Ori's innocent face but he paused when he noticed his brown eyes widen.
"That." Ori uttered, pointing a young podgy finger to a small box at the bottom of the chest. Dori opened it, unsure of what contents would be within and was startled when the box revealed to contain several balls of different coloured yarn and knitting needles.
"It's Mama's old knitting stuff," Dori muttered sadly. He began to close the box, but Ori leaned forward, almost falling out of his brother's grasp.
"I want to learn."
"I can't teach you how-"
"I shall learn myself." His eyes widened in excitement as Dori placed his brother back on the floor and the knitting box was put into his tiny hands.
Dori gave a sympathetic smile as Ori sat on the floor and emptied out the wool, his tongue bit between his teeth in concentration as he tried to work a string of wool onto a needle. He could see how contented his brother had now become, sat in front of the fire, his book and his new found hobby scattered around him and with this momentarily happy thought, he turned to leave his brother to himself.
"Dori…" The dwarrow spoke softly, his needle-ladened hands in his lap.
"Mmm?" Dori turned, his hand resting on the door frame, a reassuring smile plastered on his face.
"Should I try and knit Nori some new gloves? He needs some new gloves. Would he like that?"
"Yes…" Dori whispered, walking out of the room. "Yes, he would."
He hated him. No, he didn't hate him; he just hated how blind he was.