When Balin points out that the use of the particular concoction that Nori had given him - that he's used before, though never told anyone - isn't technically illegal, merely extremely unwise, Thorin has to take a deep breath to keep from shouting that he knew that already. The world does not need to know that he's familiar with the effects of the herbs in the wine Nori had brought him along with dinner.
"I am not asking what recourse I have for the administration of it." Thorin glares at the dark wine bottle sitting on the table between him and Balin, in lieu of glaring at Balin. "I am asking for advice on what to do about Nori's inability to understand why he cannot bring me this sort of wine."
"Why did you drink anything he brought you in the first place?"
Balin sounds as if he's trying not to express his exasperation with Thorin, and Thorin clenches his fist around the bead he'd been fiddling with before Balin arrived in answer to his summons. Drawing in another breath, Thorin very carefully places the bead on the table next to the bottle. It is an answer that needs no words, and he can hear Balin suck in a breath, though at least he doesn't let it out in a groan - he's too diplomatic to show that much surprise.
"How long?" Balin doesn't ask who, since the answer to that question would be obvious. He also has the sense not to ask why, since there's little point to asking that, either.
"Thirty years." Thorin picks up the bead again, rubbing a thumb over the carved and polished surface. He hadn't actually expected Nori to agree, or he'd have gone to Dori, properly, and done everything properly. Perhaps if he does so now, he can make Nori see something of what Thorin had tried to tell him. "Informally done, and he will not wear his where others can see it."
Not that Thorin had been any better, but his had always tucked close behind his ear, rather than riding high and hidden as Nori's had. Still does, Thorin hopes. He rubs his thumb over the bead again before reaching up to braid it back into his hair, where it has been for thirty years.
Balin is watching him with the expression that Thorin rarely sees, hiding his thoughts behind a mask of bland politeness, and Thorin can only look at him for so long before he looks back to the bottle on the table.
"Who else knows you've taken a consort beyond myself?" Balin's voice is steady, even, and almost pleasant. Thorin would rather the tired anger he remembers from Balin's confrontations of him when they were retaking Erebor.
"Dis." Thorin hadn't properly told her, but she'd had it out of him after coming looking for him at the forge when he'd missed dinner one too many times in favor of spending the evening with Nori. She hadn't seemed to care, save to tell him he'd have to explain it to Fíli and Kíli if they came looking for him.
"Only Dis?" Balin frowns, giving Thorin a long look. "Not even Dori?"
"I don't know if Nori ever told his brothers." Thorin frowns himself, trying to figure out if Nori would have told Dori, or at least Ori - and if Nori had told Ori, it would be a fair bet that both of his brothers knew.
"And an informal taking to spouse." Balin sighs, closing his eyes a moment. "You can't make him consort without the proper formalities of asking the head of his family - Dori, as they are the only two left of that family - and a public ceremony." Balin pauses, waiting until Thorin looks up at him. "Which would be the only way to have a chance to curb Nori, and I do not know that it would truly work. He is not known for his discretion - save, apparently, in this - or his restraint."
Thorin smiles wryly a moment, knowing that much is true. It had never bothered him before, and it doesn't truly bother him now, save in how the actions of his beloved would reflect on the throne, and would have the potential to cause trouble for the entire Mountain.
"Then I will have to see to the formalities." Thorin pushes away from the table, picking up the bottle to rinse it later, and send it with servants to be reused once they've cleaned it to their satisfaction.
Balin smiles, though the expression has an edge to it that makes Thorin certain he'd be in for a lecture if Balin thought he would listen. Instead, his cousin bows before taking his leave of Thorin.
Letting out a quiet sigh, Thorin leans against the table. He can only hope this works.
baruf = family
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