Nori originally took up thievery in order to ensure his brothers had anything and everything they needed. It wasn't about Nori, not at all. If Dori or Ori needed, Dori and Ori got, thanks to their brother's slick hands and nimble feet. In the times he'd get caught by guards, any cell they put him in never truly held him for long, unless he chose to play with the guards for a while and give them the false sense of security that the best thief around was incapacitated.
When the thief noticed a tall, strong looking guard who seemed new to the field, Nori's resolve was to turn his own 'career' into more of a game. A cat and mouse game. And oh, how the guard, Dwalin, grew to dislike the thief. More often than not, Dwalin was outsmarted - and it angered him. He was a very wise Dwarf, one of the top guards who also happened to be a close friend of the King in Exile, Thorin Oakenshield. The guard had a very impressive track record, but once Nori crossed his path, that record started to go down. Fast.
"Will you help find the right way up
Or let me take the wrong way down
Will you straighten me out or make me take the long way around"
Nori would study Dwalin as much as Dwalin would study Nori, each believing they knew everything there was to know about the other. But Nori held many secrets; so did Dwalin. In a way, however, the thief wanted to know what a normal life would be like. What was it like to not have to steal and to work for an honest living? Never having to worry about watching ones back or to constantly look over one's shoulder seemed appealing, but living dangerously was too ingrained in Nori by the time 50 years had passed.
He'd lie in bed most nights wondering why his heart would speed up upon sight of the guard, Dwalin, and sometimes as the moon was high overhead, Nori would entertain the thought of giving it all up for Dwalin. Could he do it? Would he do it? Could Dwalin help him become an honest Dwarf? And why was he thinking about the guard like that anyway? It wasn't as if he was Nori's One, after all.
Not at all. The law abiding guard could never want someone as low and underhanded as Nori.
There was also no way that Nori would ever straighten out. What was right for him was stealing, plain and simple.
"Standing in the dark
I can see your shadow
You're the only light
That's breaking through the window"
Dwalin was sleeping, but his longterm job of being a guard had given him the ability to wake at the slightest change in the air.
His eyes opened.
There was no sounds of footsteps in his house, no movement, nothing. But something wasn't right. He got up slowly, his eyes moved to the window in the bedroom and he saw the outline of a very familiar thief.
Dwalin knew their eyes had locked - was Nori tempting him to give chase? Perhaps he was holding something of precious value and knew Dwalin would give pursuit, but he just stood there, the moonlight casting a bright glow behind his form and tell tale starfish shaped hair.
"There's times I stayed alive for you"
Though Nori spent a lot of time locked up, he always managed to escape, which irked all of the guards - but none more than Dwalin. Even when Nori was being tortured to near death in front of the fed up guards, his eyes remained on Dwalin and, somehow, Nori stayed alive. He escaped the next day.
"There's times I would have died for you"
Then there was that one time a Goblin nearly jumped on Dwalin when the Company was fleeing. Without thinking, Nori tackled the Goblin and fought hard. Though Nori won the fight, as soon as the party was safe outside on the edge of the mountain, Oin saw that the thief was bleeding hard. As the healer tried to stop the bleeding, Nori felt dizzier and dizzier. His eyes met Dwalin's and he gave him a small smile. He ended up surviving but none of it mattered to Nori if he would have died. He wouldn't have worried about it. Dwalin had been safe, after all.
"There's times it didn't matter at all"
When Dwalin left for an undisclosed amount of time, Nori gave up his thieving. It just wasn't the same without his One chasing him any longer. The thief knew that if he would have stolen anything and got caught, it wouldn't matter if he lived or died. No. Some times it didn't matter at all.
"Well I'm not gonna give it away
Not gonna let it go just to wake up someday
The thief left home only a few days after Dwalin had vanished and he left no town, no village, no cave, forest or mountain unsearched. For all the times Dwalin had chased him before and after they'd become each others' One, it was time for Nori to stand in Dwalin's shoes and do the same in return. After all, even the guard had caught Nori, no matter how well hid he would think he was.
Two could play this game, yes.
He was gone for so long he lost track of time but nothing mattered to him. Nothing. Even after six years had passed with no sign of the guard, Nori just started all over again. There was always the chance that they'd passed by each other like shadows in the night.
But Nori sort of knew deep down inside himself. Nori sort of knew that if Dwalin didn't wish to be found, he'd not be found. The thief refused to believe that his One was dead, bones lying somewhere, never to be found, and never being able to join the others in the Halls of Waiting due to not having been buried in the Stone. Nori could not and would not give up hope. There was no way Aule would allow such a fate to come to pass to one of the best damned Dwarrow's to ever had drawn breath.
"The worst part is looking back and knowing that
I was wrong"
Six more years passed and Nori finally listened to Dori and came back home, though he knew life as he'd once knew it was over. Perhaps if he would have given up his way of life as soon as he and Dwalin had become One, maybe Dwalin wouldn't have felt the need to get away and hide as he'd done.
Nori accepted it was fully his fault that his love had left. All of his crimes, though petty, must have added up so much that Dwalin figured he'd chosen his art over love and left. And it wasn't true. If only he'd followed through with just one of the times he'd mention in passing how he'd give up the thieving lifestyle if only Dwalin asked him to. But the guard always told him that was who he was and he'd not be Nori if he wasn't thieving something.
The thief knew better now. It was his fault and karma had come back in full to repay him back by taking something from him for all the times he'd taken from others. It was no doubt a collective thing: all the loss so many had felt added up to be equal to the loss Nori felt in losing Dwalin.
"Forgive me, Dwalin. I was wrong." He whispered, not for the first time and not for the last.
Nori started working in the mines shortly after returning home, having taken up residence in his and Dwalin's old place. Funny how, after all that time, he could still close his eyes and smell the scent of his One, see him standing in the corner of the room just giving Nori his little half smile.
"I took the low road in"
He started as a thief.
"I'll take the high road out"
He ended as an honest miner.
"I'll do whatever it takes to be the mistake you can't live without"
And the day he came home from work to see Dwalin standing in the kitchen, as he let out a sob and rushed into his One's extended arms and held him close, he vowed he'd never return to that lifestyle again. He made a mistake once before, after all, and Nori did eventually learn from his mistakes. He'd give Dwalin NO reason to leave again.