Title: What Oin Does Best
Fandom: Middle Earth; polyamorous dwarves ‘verse
Notes: Written in honor of the launch of the Alphabet Soup discord group!
“I’m not eating that.”
Oin looked a little hurt. He had spent a good bit of time trying to manage to care for a miserable Toron at the same time as making soup. He was a good cook. To have it refused outright was an insult. For a moment, Toron thought Oin might challenge him or perhaps hold him down and force him to eat. But, instead, the other dwarf held his tongue and kept his temper in check. He asked calmly, reasonably, “And why not?”
"That soup's for children!" Toron looked indignantly at the letters of the Khuzdul alphabet floating around in broth.
"Yes, but this soup is also for dwarves who are having trouble keeping regular food down. Today, this soup is for you, my strongheart."
Nord's pet name for him was catching, it seemed. He hoped that it was the only thing that was catching, hoped his Oinhusband got him into the isolation suite soon enough.
There were other reasons he didn’t want to eat the soup, of course, first and foremost being that he didn’t feel hungry. He turned away quickly as food threatened to turn his stomach against him without even getting inside him. He was determined not to be bested by a simple bowl of soup and fought against the intense wave of nausea.
"What do you need?" Oin asked urgently, setting the bowl down at once and stroking his arm. "A hanky or a bucket?"
Toron shook head, honestly not certain. At no time in recent memory had he ever felt so weak and helpless. He hated feeling weak and helpless. He didn’t even know what would help him feel better at this point.
"Hold me?" Oin asked softly.
Toron looked at his husband for a long moment or two before stretching his arms out wide in offering. His mates all loved being held by him, every last one of them, and he was happy to do it, even when he didn’t feel so good. He wrapped Oin up in his arms and rested his cheek on top of Oin's head. He felt Oin tugging the blanket that had half fallen from his shoulders back into place.
“Can we stay like this for a while,” Toron asked.
Oin rubbed his cheek against Toron’s chest. “As long as you want. Don’t tell the others, but Toronhugs are my favorite hugs.”
Toron smiled and closed his eyes. He thought about all of the things he could be doing right now if he wasn’t ill—practicing with his new axe, working on strengthening the chain mail vest he had started for Gloin, ordering the knives in the cabinet by size—but nothing was so appealing to him as hugging his Oinhusband.
After a few minutes, Oin stroked his chest. “Are you uncomfortable in this position? You’re fidgeting.”
“No, I am very comfortable. But I… I think I might sneeze.”
“Well, you are sick. That is to be expected, my love.”
“I… can feel a tickle coming… huhhh…” He instinctively started to pull back, but Oin only moved with him.
“No need for that. You know I don’t mind being sneezed on.” He pressed himself closer.
Toron chuckled. “Aye, I do know that. Huhh! Huhhh! Here it… huhhh! comes…”
Oin patted his chest. “Do you want a handkerchief before or after?”
As his breath hitched, Toron considered. When his nose was sore and very full of cold, it felt wonderful to sneeze into something warm and dry. But most of his sneezes were too strong for a handkerchief, so it felt the best just to sneeze them out. “A-af-huhhh! After, please.”
He felt the tickle fill his nose fiercely. Then he took a deep breath and sneezed a great sneeze. “huhhh-HUHSHHHHHHHHHHH!”
The relief he felt afterward was wonderful, but even more wonderful was that before he could even sniffle, Oin was there with the handkerchief. He wiped so thoroughly, even with a poke of the cloth into his nostrils to catch any lingering wetness. Then Oin patted his back. “Bless.”
At some point during all that, he realized things had changed from him hugging Oin to now Oin hugging him. He didn’t mind the change at all, though. His Oinhusband was here to take care of him through this, and caring was what Oin did best.