If there was one downside to dwarves that Fili was rather pleased about lately, it was their poor eyesight. While his still served him well, being of young age, he could never say the same thing about his uncle or Balin, the two oldest dwarves in the group. Being the keenest did have its advantages, more than the pride that came with being capable of scouting out suitable sleeping places by night faster than the rest. He had the ability to sneak-most often affection-anywhere from a glance to a squeeze of the hand.
His companion on the other hand, Ori, did not excel as much in sneaking as Fili did. He was a rather nervous fellow, too polite to disrupt any norms or 'rules' that were silently established, usually by Dori. But that never discouraged Fili. There were many a time on their long, rough days when the Durin heir would nudge the scribe's shoulder as they walked side by side, a gesture as if saying 'I'll be here if you need me.'
This routine only grew with time.
At first Ori did not seem to notice, passing off these nudges as accidental, or simply a product of the way Fili walked. But eventually he did catch on, and his face now broke out in a splash of light pink every time it happened. None of the others spared them a look for which the scribe was grateful.
When night fell the sneaking always stopped, and all of FIli's pent up feelings and curiosity marked Ori in the form of the sharing of blankets, a warm hand on his hip, and a stale breath on his face. The security of darkness was the only thing keeping Ori from blushing from the nerves the other made him feel. As Dori slept peacefully on Ori's other side, Fili's sharp eyes studied every detail of that freckled and tan face, relaxed and eyes half open. For a split second (but only a second) he seemed to ponder whether this was appropriate for a Durin to be so close, and whether these touches meant something to Ori at all.
For dwarves were a very action-oriented species, not quite adept to the proper words of affection as other races. For very rarely did they give themselves to another. And when they did words were usually secondary. This is what made Ori different. He loved words. Whether spoken or written, words flowed naturally from the scribe, touching not with hands, but with emotions and ideas, something a materialistic race seemed to do less and less.
Sometimes while Fili was inclined to caresses and holding and a possessiveness that overwhelmed and controlled him, Ori whispered pleasantly in his ear about epics and sagas he's read, or stories he created himself. The words touched Fili's ears in an intoxicating way, filling his mind with fantasy and excitement. A fondness claimed him to the point where he'd fall asleep to that voice, touched not by careful fingers, but by dreams.
In the morning, the sneaking began again. The only indication of Ori's response came during breaks when they'd sit close to one another, their youth getting the better of them as hands lay entwined together under the cover of a traveling cloak. Fili feared distance during the day, and a desperate, horrible addiction stirred inside him the more he acted this way. He'd reach out for those softer hands again at the next stop, away from his unsuspecting companions . He did not care sometimes if Ori actually minded, his neediness spreading a wide, slightly sheepish grin across his face.
"Aren't you afraid?" Fili whispered suddenly one particularly windy night, interrupting Ori's train of thought as the scribe yawned next to him, raising a curious stare.
"Afraid of what?" Ori replied.
"That..that I am only using you?" Fili wondered if Ori knew precisely what he meant. The want to touch skin, to feel someone close to him, to hear whispered fantasies. All were the product of a side of himself he tried to hide away in a chest in the back of his mind. He never suspected Ori to blow the dust away and open the chest as easily as he could open up a book.
"You are not that kind of dwarf, Master Fili," the scribe assured.
The prince did not agree.