Nori drops a copper coin and watches it spin down, flashing in the torchlight, to land with a muted plop on the top of Bofur’s hat. Not a twitch. Another coin, another plop, a small shift and a snore. Nori grins, and readjusts the aim just slightly and the third coin bounces off the first with a little clink and lands in Bofur’s lap. Bofur jumps and snorts awake, looking around wildly and sending the other coins flying. Nori retreats behind the edge of the roof and waits a moment for the sounds of confusion to die down. Once it has, Nori peers down again to see Bofur looking up.
Bofur grins. “I can figure out that something landing on top of my head means it’s coming from up high. What are you doing on Bombur’s roof apart from tossing money at me like I’m a banker?”
Nori shrugs. “Admiring the scenery.”
“The beauteous sights of Lapis Street at dusk,” Bofur agrees, nodding solemnly. “I do see the appeal. Will you be coming down and joining us for supper or perching like a hawk up there a while longer?”
“Well, if you insist.” Nori slides down the side of the building onto the shed, then drops to the ground.
Bofur catches Nori by the waist and pulls them together for a slightly dusty kiss, mouth twitching in a smile even in the middle of kissing. Nori’s beard scruffles against Bofur’s bare chin and Bofur pulls away to laugh.
“Come on, then, I’d bet they’ve all started eating already. If you don’t want to be left with naught but crumbs from the voracious nibling beasties, we’d best get in there.”
Nori tries a melting look for a moment, but gives it up. Not worth missing Bombur’s food, when they can canoodle just as well after eating. “Yeah, all right.” Sliding a hand into Bofur’s jacket pocket, Nori tugs on it, leading the way toward the door while Bofur laughs.
“Can’t keep your fingers out of there for a minute, can you?”
“You understand,” Nori says cheerfully.
“I have noticed that’s a good place to put things I want you to get a look at,” Bofur agrees. Nori smirks back and tugs Bofur in the door.
As always, the house Bofur shares with Bombur’s family is stuffed with dwarves of all sizes, good smells, and chatter.
Bombur’s spouse Bruní swoops in as they enter and presses plates on both of them. “Get in there quick, they’re all going through growth spurts again. And Nori, bring your sibs by next time. Ori needs feeding up and I’d like to speak with Dori about an idea for the shop.”
Nori blinks and accepts the plate and smiles automatically. Bofur nudges Nori's elbow, and Nori sidles into the big main room. It’s hard to run a con on so many people; somebody’s bound to notice. (Nori’s always thrown by how easily everyone in this family seems to see through whatever act Nori’s putting on.) Bombur piles heaps of food on Nori’s plate, then Bofur’s.
“Took you awhile to come in,” Bombur says below the hubbub, grinning at Bofur, who blushes and swats at Bombur.
“I was having a nap,” Bofur protests. “Nothing odd about that.”
“Mhmm. Nori, good to see you.”
“As if I’d miss such masterful cooking,” Nori says, then flutters coy lashes at Bofur. “Or such company.”
Bombur laughs and shoos them toward stools. Bruní rearranges dwarflings and settles in the middle of the table, leaving space for Bombur at the end. Nori is crowded and jostled and talked at by an excited toddler in incoherent rapid-fire babble, but doesn’t mind it. Once everyone’s settled, the chatter of the little ones is muffled for a bit of concentrated chewing. The food is simple, cheap, and tastes amazing. Nori hasn’t had anything like it since they were orphaned and Dori had to work more and more. The contented sounds of dwarves enjoying food slowly mixes with conversation. Bofur talks about the latest union meeting. Bruní discusses their apprenticeships with the older dwarflings and Bombur. Bombur agrees that the bakery is well. Nori watches and shares observations about the mood in the Halls and the business district. Bofur makes admiring sounds about Nori’s clever watchfulness and Bombur laughs at them and Bruní suggests courting gifts and Bofur blushes. The dwarflings argue and compare how much potato they can fit in one bite and sing dinner songs.
Next time, Nori will pass on the invitation to Ori and Dori.
After the dishes are clean, Bofur and Nori leave Bombur and Bruní to get their children to bed. Bofur leads the way to the market street bridge and they lean on the parapet to smoke and trade kisses in the cool dark evening. Nori, fingers trailing down Bofur’s hips, finds a crinkling paper bag in Bofur’s pocket and pulls it out.
“You just leave presents for me in your pockets on the regular, now?”
“Aye.” Bofur grins, takes a ginger biscuit out of the packet, and eats it.
Nori scoffs, and takes a bite. They’re very good.
“How else should I convince you to put your hands down my pants?” Bofur adds, eyes twinkling.
“I can think of a few ways,” Nori says. This time, Bofur’s mouth is warm and gingery and lingering, and Nori’s never tasted anything better.