Title: Isolation

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Middle Earth (pre-Hobbit); tg’s polyamorous dwarf ‘verse
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Oin/Frár/Eagen/Nord/Toron/Gloin/unnamed dwarf wife
Disclaimer: No money made, no offense intended, no relation to any companies.
Summary: When his husband falls ill, it’s up to Oin to look after him.
Author Notes: This is an expanded version of a scene mentioned in “Gimli, Son of Several” that goes into further detail regarding the dwarfs’ sickroom.

 

 

Isolation

 

The dwarves were working up an appetite in the weapons room. Like usual, they had begun by trying to organize the weapons and it had quickly turned into practicing with the weapons. And, just as quickly, the practicing had turned into wrestling and tumbling.

 

Sometimes they all won, but sometimes it was easy to tell who came out a winner. More often than not, it was Toron.“Good fight,” Gloin conceded, lying on his back as he stared at the blade of his husband's axe. “Do me the honor of a rematch after lunch?”

 

Panting after this especially hard-won win, Toron pulled Gloin to his feet. He pecked Gloin on the cheek and patted his back. “Aye,” Toron agreed.

 

Gloin headed off to check on lunch while Toron walked back over to the weapons. They weren't any more organized than they had been an hour ago. But Nord had cleaned and polished several of them.

 

“There's excellent balance to this sword,” Toron said, bouncing a sword he selected from the pile. He gripped the hilt tight in his hand and ran a finger along the flat of the blade. The metal was cool and tempered smooth, done by some of the most talented dwarves, to be sure. “I look forward to finding out how well it performs in a fight.” His grip tightened and relaxed again on the hilt. “I'm fresh from a win against Gloin. Care to give me some more practice, Nord?”

 

Nord eyed the axe nearest to him but didn't make a move toward it. “To be honest, Toron, I don't feel too well. I've been feeling a bit worn down all morning and... and I feel that I might sneeze at any moment.”

 

Toron set the sword down at once and turned to his husband. Silently, he pressed the back of his hand to Nord's forehead. A frown crossed his face. “You do feel a tad warm. Have you the chills?” he asked. And when Nord nodded, Toron wasted no time in wrapping his arms right around the dwarf, hugging him from the side. “Frár!” he called across the room to where Frár was testing axe blades against various rocks.

 

Frár put down the weapons and jogged over, face flushed around his beard by the time he reached their end of the room. “You called?”

 

Toron held Nord tight, barely giving him room to breathe let alone answer. “Go get Oin at once. Tell him to pack some supplies. Nord's coming down with something. He's got a fever already.”

 

Frár took a step back, not wanting to catch whatever this was. Dwarves spent most of their time underground in their rooms and tunnels and caves. Illnesses could spread faster than fire in such conditions, and the last thing they wanted was for their wife or child to become ill. “I will tell him to meet Nord in the far room, aye?”

 

“Aye,” Toron agreed, bobbing his head so that his chin bumped against the side of Nord's head. “I'll see Nord gets there presently.”

 

With a nod, Frár took off, taking Eagen with him.

 

“Sorry to be causing so much trouble,” Nord said, softly. Trapped in his husband's extra tight embrace, all he could do was rotate in place, turning so that his front was mostly against Toron's. He ducked his head and buried his face in Toron's beard, which proved less comforting and more ticklish than usual. “You shouldn't hold me so close. You're.. you... heh... heh-ehhhh-ehhhTIGGHsshhhhhhhh!” And there came that sneeze that he'd been fighting back all morning long.

 

“Oh, bless.” Toron kissed his temple. “I'm afraid I have no hanky on me, but they'll be some in the room already, I'm sure. Can your sniffles and tickly nose hold off until then?”

 

Nord gave a weak laugh. “There's no reasoning with them, I'm afraid.” He sniffed hard. “But you'll catch this from me if you are not careful.” He tried to pull away, give him space, but Toron held tight and held fast.

 

“That's nothing to worry about. You know I never get sick.”

 

“There's always a first time,” Nord replied. But Toron's heavy, strong hand stroked the back of his head so reassuringly, Nord could not fight it. His nose running, he rubbed it against Toron's tunic. The fabric was rough, utilitarian, buy dry was all it had to be and dry was what it was.

 

“Come on now,” Toron said, his voice softer and deeper like a rumbling whisper. And to see this man, the best and toughest fighter among their ranks of great warriors, be so gentle, it was like an aphrodisiac to his wife and husbands. Nord snuggled invariably closer. “I had best get you over to isolation before Oin comes after my hide. We can’t have the others, especially not Gimli, catch this from you. Right?”

 

Nord nodded, which was really just more rubbing of his nose against the warm linen tunic. It wouldn't do to make Oin angry, especially considering that Nord was going to be spending several days with him until this illness ran its course fully. That time would be much more enjoyable with a pleasant, loving, doting Oin at his side.

 

Toron managed to escort Nord down the halls of their home to the farthest room they had while still somehow managing to hold him tight the whole time. Perhaps that was largely due to Nord clinging to him for warmth. But however it happened, Nord eventually made it to the room.

 

Before Toron could do even as much as deposit Nord on a couch, Oin appeared in the doorway with several bags on his shoulders and ushered Toron away. “Go, go, before you catch whatever Nord has,” Oin insisted, literally pushing his husband out the door.

 

“You know I don't fall ill,” Toron countered, even as he allowed himself to be thrown out of the sickroom.

 

“Aye, I know, you're the perfect dwarven specimen—strong and hearty to a fault. But all it takes is one tenacious bug to be slightly stronger than you are. Now go and leave me to my patient.” Oin closed the strong oak door but did not lock it, for there was no lock. He turned then, regarding his husband, who stood in the middle of the large, nearly empty room, shivering. “Oh, love.” He swept in, wrapping an arm around Nord, and directed him over to the couch. “Cold?” Nord nodded. “Of course you are,” he crooned. He pulled a blanket out from under the couch and wrapped it around Nord's broad shoulders. “This will help you stay warm while I build us a roaring fire.”

 

Nord could do nothing but nod his agreement. He pulled the blanket around himself and settled deep into the mound of couch cushions. He watched his husband squat down next to the grand fireplace and begin building a fire there. Unlike the coal-burning stove that heated not just their kitchen but most of their home, there was wood in this fireplace. There were thick logs and small kindling sticks. And, soon enough, there was a small flame dancing around between them. “Oin,” Nord began, pressing the back of his hand to his running nose. “Is there a handkerchief for me in one of those bags?”

 

Oin nearly jumped, having been taken by surprise on a subject he should have already addressed. “Of course.” From out one of the bags, he drew a whole stack of handkerchiefs. “There's more in the cupboards, but I brought some softer ones.” The one at the very top of the stack, clean and pressed, looked so welcoming that Nord reached out for it, though it was beyond his reach from where he was on the couch. Oin brought it over to him and, instead of handing it over, pressed it right to Nord's running, sniffling nose. “There,” he soothed. “Don't be embarrassed now. It's only us here. Just let it all out into this.” And so Nord did. He took a deep breath and blew his nose into the handkerchief held firmly in Oin's cupped hand. Oin held it in place when he was finished, and Nord repeated the process until his nose felt inordinately better. In fact, were it not for the chills he still felt racing up and down his arms and back, he would have thought himself completely well again.

 

But the feeling did not last for long at all. “hahhhhh-heeeYKHTschggghhhh!”  Oin caressed his nose with the handkerchief, rubbing and wiping and cleaning for him while Nord sniffled and sneezed and shivered. “hahhhErschhhh! Sniff! eh-heh-EEeexxshhhhh! Sniff, sniff herKtshgghhhhhh! Sniff!” Finally, the need to sneeze seemed to die down where it might stay for a while. With relief, Nord relaxed back onto the couch while Oin finished building the fire.

 

“There. That should last well into the evening,” Oin said, standing up and surveying his work with a satisfied nod of his head and with his hands on his hips. “Seems we have plenty of time stretching out before us now. I have brought books for reading and wood for carving. Or, if you would like, we could pass the time in other ways.”

 

Wordlessly, Nord reached out. And, just as wordlessly, Oin went to him. Their kiss was immediate, strong, loving. But Nord's nose was already more stuffed than he would have liked it to have been Instead of having to pull out of the kiss prematurely, Nord already found the kiss slipping away from his mouth. Oin moved the kiss to his cheek then dropped it into his beard then moved it down to his neck, nipping at the tender skin there as Nord sniffled and snuffled and tried not to ruin the mood with another sneeze. He had managed to keep from sneezing for most of the morning, despite a rather ticklish nose. But, now, he couldn't see how he had accomplished that feat. His nose was so ticklish he could barely stand it. As alight as his nether regions felt, his nose was even more-so.

 

As Oin plied the nape of his neck with soft, fluttering kisses, Nord reached for the handkerchief Oin had brought over. It was damp and would require washing before they could dry it out in front of the fire, but perhaps it would be good enough to contain just one more sneeze? Nord's breath caught. Then his body moved back, further into the couch cushions, as he drew in a great breath. “hehhhhh... heeeee-YIHkngshhhhhhhhhhh!

 

Moving the kissing up again to Nord's cheek, and without even breaking his rhythm of kisses, Oin took the sodden handkerchief, folded it, and then pressed it to Nord's nose. Somehow, magically, he'd found an entirely dry section with which to rub at Nord's nose. “There now. You just let me take care of you, aye?” He rubbed the hanky at Nord's nose and then slipped a hand under Nord's tunic. “I shall take such good care of you.”

 

Nord smiled weakly. “Thandk you, Oind. You are so sweet to mbe.” He was appalled to hear the congestion in his voice so soon, but Oin glowed to hear it. Beamed, even.

 

“That is the reason I am here. I am here to help you feel well again. It's what I am best at.” He caught Nord's lips with his again, the strong kiss now impossibly stronger and reassuring. And, all at once, Nord was glad to have come down with this ailment. It meant having Oin like this and having him all to himself. He was fortunate to feel so bad, because it would soon mean he would feel so very good.

 

Because Oin was indeed excellent at care-giving. He knew just how to hold a handkerchief and just the right sort of remedies to administer. He knew how to comfort and reassure. But, in addition, he was excellent at petting and touching and loving and making one feel loved and valued even through the misery of an illness.

 

“Take off mby tundic,” Nord whispered.

 

“If I do, you will get chilled. You've got a fever. You should stay warm. I can wrap you up in blankets,” Oin offered, his fingers dipping under Nord's auburn beard and tracing the shirt's neckline.

 

“You cand wrapb mbe upb ind you,” Nord countered. This made Oin grin for all the right reasons. He shed his own clothes immediately but took his time with his husband's.

 

The tunic came first, unlaced then pulled over Nord's head. When his head sprang free, Oin dropped a kiss onto his lips then led a trail of others into his beard. The kisses kept moving downward, against a strong chest and firmer abs than expected from a dwarf who normally skipped practice sessions in favor of a good book. Next came the trousers, slipped down, little by little, down past his waist, his crotch, his thighs. Oin could not resist giving him a stroke at this point. Nord sucked in a surprised but pleased breath. “Do that againd?” Oin did. That was what he was doing here in this room, after all, making Nord feel better. Oin took care with Nord's boots, squeezing each of Nord's stocking feet before pulling off the socks. When the trousers came off the rest of the way, Oin immediately moved in to keep him warm—and not a moment too soon.

 

heee-IHPTSHhhhhhhh!” Nord sneezed into Oin's chest. “Oh... sorry, Oin. Sniff! So sorry I think I caught you with that one.”

 

Oin had handkerchiefs here. In fact, he had about a hundred handkerchiefs. He had so many more handkerchiefs than even Nord's sneezy nose could go through them all with one cold. And he gathered a few of them now, realizing how many he would soon require. He pressed one to Nord's nose now. “You will not catch me unawares again. Put your nose right here, love.” He held a handkerchief up and caught not only Nord's nose but a double-sneeze in it.

 

hehhhh.. ehhhhh-EHkngdkh! KDgshhhhhhhhh!” He snuffled wetly into the hanky, still held in Oin's hand. “You are so good at this,” he whispered before blowing his nose. “Oh-Oind-ehhhh?”

 

“It's all right,” Oin soothed, stroking the back of Nord's head. “Sneeze all you need to.”

 

Nord took that invitation. “eeeehh-Huhfschhhphhhh! heeeee-KUHtchuphhhhhhh! Heeeee-IHhiptschphhhhhhhhh! HehhIHKTschhhhhuhhhh!” He blew his nose again. Then he shivered fiercely.

 

“Let's have none of that now.” Oin moved in close, holding Nord to his chest. The fire's light danced upon his back and Nord's face as the fire's warmth drove the shivers far away. Oin's hand slid down Nord's side, petting repeatedly. The dark markings of the rune tattoos on Nord's back lapped at his side, just a hint of the wisdom and words he had made part of him. Oin honored that with his gentle touch. “Perhaps, before we continue, I should get you something warm to drink, something that will help quiet these sneezes a little.”

 

Nord nodded in agreement.

 

“Do you want a blanket while I'm gone?”

 

Nord nodded again, but when Oin brought one to him, he hugged it to his chest instead of wrapping it around himself. He nuzzled his face into it and closed his eyes. “Dond't take too londg.”

 

The storage cupboards in the adjoining area were stocked full of sickroom provisions, including some special tea Oin put his faith in. As he filled a kettle with water, he glanced back at Nord. Nord stretching out on his side on the rug. Nord pressing himself into the blanket as if it were Oin. Nord sniffling and snuffling. He knew he must hurry back. Oin used a metal hook Eagen had fashioned years ago to place the kettle in the fire. It wouldn't take long for it to heat up, and he knew that going to Nord now would be a mistake. The closer he cuddled, the less likely it would be that he could pull out of it when the water reached its boiling point. But it was a specific kind of torture, watching Nord shiver and sniffle just a few feet away where he could not reach.

 

It was even worse when Nord wound up for a sneeze. Feeling it coming, his body tensed and pulled back with hitching breaths. He raised his body up on one arm, bent at the elbow. His head rested on his hand. But when it came to the deep, uncontrollable breath and a sneeze he could not hold back, his whole body pitched forward at its force. “hee-ehhtchugshhhhh!

 

Pouring water over tea leaves, Oin blessed his husband. Then he brought the tea over, along with a fresh handkerchief already at the ready. He settled down on the rug beside Nord and set the mug down between them, steam rising from it. He held the handkerchief out, cupped, and Nord almost immediately sneezed into it. “heee-yihtchxshhhh!” As soon as he was sure that the sneezes were done for the moment, Oin lowered the handkerchief, trading it for the mug.

 

“Sip this,” he said. And, when Nord did, he kissed and petted his husband's head. His lips caressed Nord's warm forehead. The backs of his thick fingers stroked Nord's cheek. “Good, good.” Oin praised.

 

Around the mug, Nord smiled. Then the corners of his mouth turned downward. “eh... eh-heee... hehh...” Oin switched the mug for the handkerchief this time, just in time. “heeeee... ih-hih-Ktggshhhhhhhhh!” He drank some more, sniffling as the steam tickled his nose. But it wasn't long before Nord sat up straighter, swaying. “heeeee-HETdhngschhhhhhh!” But he finished the drink in the end. Then he reached out with need.

 

Oin moved closer to him and gave him a strong, reassuring kiss. Then they lay down together, hands clasped. “Feeling better now? Sneezes all worked out for the moment?” Oin asked, to which Nord smiled and nodded. With their bodies pressed to each other, Oin could tell just how much better Nord was feeling, at least on one front. “Well then. I think there's something I can do about this hardness.” He reached down, adjusting himself so that he could take both their erections in his hand. There was another kiss, one that neither of them wanted to end. And there was stroking, stroking to the rhythm of their breathing. As he stroked, their breathing quickened considerably. And as their breathing quickened, so did the stroking. Soon enough, he was stroking as fast as he could and their breathing raced so fast Oin was starting to feel lightheaded. If they didn't come soon, he thought he might pass right out.

 

“Oind! I... I.. I'm gonna...” Nord grunted and came powerfully, bucking forward, spilling himself against Oin's palm and chest and, then, also a handkerchief Oin held to their crotches. With the soft, thick cloth there to catch his mess, he came as well. The room was far enough away from the other in their home that they could not be heard, whether it was from coughing, sneezing, snoring, or crying out with an orgasm. Oin did the latter, and Nord did all, minus the snoring. When they were done, Oin had another hanky, a clean, dry one, for Nord's nose.

 

They curled up together on the fur rug, the warmest spot in the room. With blankets and pillows, they made a comfortable nest together and Nord fell asleep. Oin, repeatedly stroking Nord's head soothingly, followed not long after.

 

*

 

Time passed differently in this place. There ceased to be a morning or an afternoon. There ceased to be a day or a night. A sick dwarf needed rest at all hours of the day, whenever he could get it, really. So a pattern of napping and waking to eat and then napping again was quickly established. So often was Nord was tired, however, when Oin was not. Most times Oin lay there with his husband huddled against his chest and a book in his free hand. Sometimes he would read to Nord, who could never resist a good story, but most times he read silently by firelight, adventuring in the only way he could.

 

But taking care of a sick dwarf was not the easiest of jobs. It required almost constant tending to his nose, fixing him the right hot things to sip for his scratchy throat, and keeping him cozy and warm all the time. This was exhausting, so sometimes Oin gave up trying to read and just snuggled close to get some sleep of his own.

 

It was during one of these times that the door to the room opened and the sound of coughing filled the quiet. It did not wake Nord, but Oin heard it at once. Sleepily, he reached up and took hold of the edge of the blanket. He lifted it up, inviting in cold air as well another of his husbands. It was so dark, the fire having died down to embers only, that Oin wasn't entirely sure who had just joined them. The dwarf coughed and coughed, even as he curled, shaking, against Oin's body. His coughs were moist but desperate, and Oin could hear the emotion behind them, sounding as though he were getting closer and closer to tears. “It's all right,” Oin reassured him, rubbing circles on his back. From the touch, he still couldn't quite tell who this was, though he had a guess. 'There, now. There. You're all right. I have you.” The coughing grew stronger, sounding like he might be sick to his stomach at any moment. But then it backed off and stopped altogether. He cleared his throat and buried his head in Oin's armpit and beard, nuzzling closer to the warmth. Oin smiled sympathetically. “I'm so sorry you fell ill.”

 

“Me too,” Frár said, hoarsely.

 

Ah, so it was Frár then. Oin wasn't surprised. Where Nord's nose acted out when he had a cold, Frár's throat was the primary trouble-maker. It was usually sore and raw and painful for days. “Let me rebuild the fire and get you some tea.”

 

“No.” Frár put an arm around his chest, holding him down. “Stay. Please stay.” He coughed again. And coughed and coughed and coughed.

 

Oin grunted and pulled away. Like it or not, this had to happen. Frár needed tea. Once Oin had pulled himself out from under the blankets, he shoved and nudged his two sick husbands together. Nord was so sleepy, he was barely aware of what was going on. But he smiled in his sleep as Frár cuddled up next to him, still shaking with coughs. Oin tucked the many blankets tight around the two of them.

 

The fire took a while to catch on the wood. Oin ended up pulling a spare blanket around himself to keep from shivering while he did his work. It was that or get dressed, and that seemed like a bad option considering that he was going to snuggle back up with his husbands afterward. Luckily, the flames began in earnest not long after, and he set a kettle a midst them. It did not take long for the water to come to a boil or for Oin to mix in the right amount of tea leaves. Though it was a remedy developed by the elves, he felt that he had perfected it over the past dozen years or so, creating a tea that was both soothing and relaxing. It would calm the irritation in Frár's throat and help him to fall asleep; what more could you want from a remedy?

 

“Sit up for me,” Oin requested, cupping his husband's face with a gentle touch. Now that there was a fire in the hearth, he could see Frár clearly. The fire glowed bright upon his flushed face and luscious red lips. Frár pulled himself up into a sitting position. He was still coughing, but Nord had fallen back into a sleep so deep he was snoring again, not requiring any tea at the moment. They waited for the coughing to subside once more before he could take a drink. Frár winced at the first sip, the hot liquid striking his irritated throat. But Oin rubbed his back and whispered soothing words, so Frár kept drinking. He drank until the tea was gone, not coughing once while he drank. And when he was done, he was warm and content and entirely unable to keep his eyes from closing. “There. That's a good lad,” Oin whispered as he eased his husband back down again. Frár stretched out upon the fur rug, under the warmth of the many blankets, his face half buried in the thick, dark fur.

 

Frár lifted his head and opened one tired eye at him. His voice was rough and weak, sad and pathetic, but also full of hope and desire. “Join us?”

 

“Mmm,” Oin agreed. He circled around, lifting up the mass of blankets at the opposite end and crawling under. He hit some cooler patches first, and he shivered as the cool blankets touched his bare skin. But he crawled forward under them, toward the impressive warmth of two of his husbands. There was not room for him to squeeze in the middle again, but Nord was still fast asleep and Frár was looking needy, so Oin moved in alongside him and wrapped an arm around him. “Sleep well. And if you wake up coughing again, I will prepare more tea. I will make you as much as you need.”

 

Frár smiled in gratitude as he drifted off to sleep. Oin never did find out what time of day it was, but he fell asleep not long after. One sick dwarf was exhausting. Two were almost overwhelming.

 

He felt divided between them. One of the nice things about their family was that no one ever felt in the center of the group and, likewise, no one ever felt on the outside. Many times they would pair up for attention—pettings and kisses and play. But it was just as common for their marital bed to be everything for everyone all at once. Sometimes you never knew who was touching you or stroking you, and it never mattered. There was love from all directions.

 

But here in isolation, it was different. Here, Oin was in charge. Here, everyone did what he told them, even if they didn't feel much like doing it, even if they put up a bit of a fight along the way. Here, it was Oin looking after one of them then Oin looking after the other. Though they often all snuggled together, sharing drinks, sharing warmth, sharing hankies. The sick dwarves could not really look after each other; that was what Oin was best at. His calling to be a healer had started when he was young, looking after Gloin when his brother received a cut while training or fell ill with some minor sniffle or a belly ache. Dwarf siblings were not as rare as fine jewels, but Oin had felt lucky to have found himself with one. And he hoped Gloin felt likewise. The two certainly had been close enough to want to share their family through adulthood, and Oin couldn't have imagined his life any other way. Caring for and protecting the ones he loved was what mattered most to him.

 

*

 

And that caring sentiment and drive did not change, even when he came down ill as well, hours later. “Sniff!” He wasn't some little dwarfling; he knew perfectly well how to blow his nose. But his hands were currently occupied. One rubbed an oily salve into Frár's hairy chest while the other held a handkerchief to Nord's nose and mouth.

 

heeee-IHiptschngggshhh! Hehhh-HE-KTshugshhhhhhhh!” Nord swayed forward, nose buried in the handkerchief. “heee-Ihmphshhhhhhh!

 

Sniff! Bless. Do you need to blow your nose?”

 

Nord shook his head and coughed. Then he gestured toward the handkerchief. “Ndoe, but you do I thindk. Caught this cold too, Oind?”

 

Oin nodded and wiped his nose. With two sick dwarf husbands constantly clinging to him, it was inevitable. Dwarf colds caught quickly, which was one of the reasons for the isolation room. They had to prevent an illness from spreading in any way they could. But this was just a cold, nothing he could not handle. “Not so miserable, though. I'll still take good care of you two.”

 

It was then that the door opened and Eagen walked in. His cheeks were bright berry red with fever, his eyes tired but bright as they searched the room a moment before falling upon Oin.

 

“You three,” Oin corrected himself. He left the handkerchief with Nord before getting up and going to Eagen.

 

“Gloin sent me,” Eagen said softly. “I was in my workshop, working on... something. But it was hard to focus. Everything kept shaking and that hurt my head.” He put his hand to his forehead. “I think I might be ill.”

 

Oin reached up and nudged Eagen's hand away from his forehead just enough to be able to feel that his husband was absolutely burning up with fever. “You are correct. Gloin was good to send you. Come lie down with us. I will get you a cool cloth and something good to drink that should help lower your temperature. How does that sound?”

 

“Good,” Eagen said with a weak smile. “Oin...”

 

Oin pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “Aye. Come with me.” He led Eagen by the hand over to the rug in front of the fireplace and found a place for him there. One cold compress and cup of tea later, and the world was no longer spinning, according to Eagen.

 

So now they were four. Evidently, they had not whisked Nord away to the isolation room fast enough. Or, perhaps, they had all caught this at the same time. Oin hoped that wasn't the case, though. This was enough miserable dwarves for one family. And at least one of them had to be healthy enough to look after young Gimli, assuming their dwarfling did not catch this as well. Four well and four ill were not the best of numbers, but better than none.

 

Oin turned his attention back to those in this room. He had enough to worry about in here without worrying about what might happen somewhere he could not make any difference. Besides, he had neither the energy nor the health to worry much anyway. “ahh-Inggtchhhh! Ih-Ktchhhhh!” Oin retrieved a clean handkerchief for himself before he settled back down on the rug with his husbands.

 

He curled his body against Eagen's taller one, matching his curves, pressing his belly to his husband's back. Then he draped his heavy arm over Eagen and patted his chest. “Sleep, my love.” He sniffed and wrinkled his nose. He might be ill as well, but his instinct to care had not been harmed.

 

Behind him, Nord and Frár began fumbling about with each other here under the blankets. He heard a few affectionate words batted about in dwarvish, and then he heard the soft, wet sound of kisses. Despite his cold, the sound turned him on. But he could not turn and join in, not with a feverish Eagen husband in his arms. Eagen seemed more unaware of his surroundings than sleepy. He kept looking around, looking confused and unsettled. Oin held him tighter, keeping him grounded, keeping him secure.

 

But the sounds his naked husbands were making behind him were not so easily ignored. He heard them grunt and smack and lick and shudder and sniffle and cough and, oh, Oin longed to be touching them too. “Frár...” he whispered. “Nord?”

 

Lips pressed tenderly against the back of his neck, and he shuddered with arousal and need. He kept his hold on Eagen, though.

 

Then something overrode both his arousal and his need to comfort. “ahhh.. hahh-Ahhhhh... Ah! Ahh! AH-IHKTSchhhhhh!” He managed to sneeze over Eagen's head, rather than on him. And he managed to free a hand to swipe at his nose. A callused hand touched his cheek. It was a surprise, but it felt wonderful. “Mmmm.”

 

“Lie still, Oin,” came Frár's scratchy, strained voice. “And... cough... and we'll... cough cough...” He coughed but even as he did, he ran his hand downward until it found Oin's rear. Oin clenched and unclenched his asscheeks as a sign that he understood what was to come.

 

“ihh-KIHTchhh! IhhKuhtschhhhh! Oh, Frár... I... I-hhhihh! HihhTschhh!” That was Nord, his body pressing and rubbing against Frár's. “I hihhhhKTschhhh!

 

“Blessings,” Eagen murmured in his feverish haze. He looked over his shoulder and met Oin's gaze. With look and an understanding kiss, Eagen pulled away and burrowed into blankets on his own. That was his true blessing, and a welcome one at that. He didn't feel up to this, but he was happy to let Oin partake.

 

With his care-taking duties temporarily on hold, Oin rolled onto his stomach, giving his other two husbands full access. It was Frár who took advantage. He cleared his throat but mounted Oin. Meanwhile, Nord nuzzled into Oin's side. Even sniffly, he was adorable and hot and, oh, those kisses. Nord's kisses landed in precisely the right places, tickling Oin's skin so that it sang with desire. As Frár entered, Nord kissed Oin's earlobe. As Frár began pumping, Nord nibbled the side of Oin's neck. As Frár thrust in deep, Nord's mouth found Oin's and did not seem to want to let go of the strongest, sweetest kiss the two of them had shared out of the hundreds if not thousands of kisses that had come before.

 

Normally, he would insist on taking his time. He would savor each touch given so generously. He would make the sensations last as long as he possibly could. But his time with Nord earlier had been short because of the dwarf's cold. And, now, this time threatened to be short because they were all ill. Their grunts and pants of pleasure were all punctuated with sniffles and coughs. Oin's head pounded with pain even as Frár was pounding into him. He wished he had a cold compress for his own head, but he would make-do with Nord's kisses for now. Nord's sweet kisses that tasted of tea and spices and of Oin's care. That was just as hot to him as all the rest. They wanted him. They were sick, yes, but well enough to want him.

 

And, as Nord smothered a sneeze into Oin's shoulder, Oin came. Powerfully, gratefully. And, not a second later, Frár came as well, stifling his cry so that he did not bother Eagan, who was snoring not two feet away. Oin's toes curled. His hands both grabbed a blanket and squeezed hard. And even though his head hurt and throat hurt and nose hurt, he had not felt so good in so long.

 

Lazily, still coming down from his blissful orgasm, Oin reached over and took hold of Nord's cock. It leaked and lept excitedly in his grip. As Frár coughed into a blanket, one hand on Nord's chest, Oin began stroking. It was magical the way they could all feel so terrible and so wonderful all at the same time. He wished Eagan felt well enough to join them.

 

Oin stifled a sneeze “ingxt!” and almost completely missed Nord coming. But he managed to wrap his arm around and hold his husband tenderly as it happened. Nord nuzzled his face into Oin's beard as he grunted.

 

When it was all over and all three of them were sated, Oin barely wanted to move. But he knew that if he didn't clean them off, no one would. Hot, damp cloths against their skin had both Nord and Frár practically purring. He wrapped them in blankets afterward and then they all huddled around Eagen in the nest of blankets. Oin tried not to fall asleep right away.

 

He wanted to look after his husbands. But the physical exertion from the sex had taken a harder toll than expected. He kept nodding off, snapping awake again with each sniffle or snore that punctuated the quiet of the room. But it didn't take long before his eyes closed and he couldn't will them back open. He drifted off to sleep, sick but warm and surrounded by dwarves he loved.

 

*

 

“Oin?” Frár’s raspy voice was muffled by the blankets, but still audible. “Tea?”

 

“Aye,” Oin had been busy chopping vegetables and cuts of meat for a hearty stew that would be kind to sore throats and warm feverish bodies. Now he filled the kettle with water and placed it on the fire. “Of course.”

 

“Me too,” said Eagen, his voice soft and weak. The high fever had taken much out of him, but it had finally broken a few hours ago. Oin knew it would take time to build him back up again; he couldn’t be trusted with sharp tools in his hands until then.

 

“Add be,” came Nord’s stuffy voice. When asleep, he snored deeply. When awake, he didn’t stop sneezing. His poor nose needed help and his terrible ailment needed more than tea. They all needed more than tea.

 

“Tea for everyone.” Tea was an excellent start, however. Oin moved back to the vegetables and recovered his handkerchief, coughing and snuffling into it with his runny nose. He needed something warm in his belly and a good, long rest. With luck, he would have one and then the other. But his husbands had needs of their own, and there was no one else to help them.

 

“Do we have bore… hah-handkies, Oind? Hahh-hehh-YEHktschhhhhhh!

 

Of course they had. And of course they happened to be clear across the room. Oin abandoned the heating water and chopped carrots and potatoes to go retrieve one. He selected one for Nord and then one for himself, slipping it into the pocket of the apron he wore over his tunic. The shirt hung down to his knees and the sleeves were long. His wife had made it for him years ago of thick material that fit warm and snug, just the thing when he was feeling sick and shivery and had to crawl out of the nest of blankets and dwarves to see to a meal preparation.

 

He could not recall the last meal he had eaten, so having one now was of the utmost importance. So, too, was keeping Nord’s tickling nose at bay. “hehh-Yihshhhh! ihhhShuhhhhhh!” Oin held the handkerchief cupped to Nord’s nose and mouth.

 

“There,” he soothed. “Nice, nice.” He wiped his husband’s nose dry as the kettle began to whistle. So he left the handkerchief with Nord before racing over to the fire, nearly burning himself as he forgot to pick up the handle with the pot holder until his fingertips were about to touch the scalding hot metal. The cups were lined up, touching at the rims, so that he could fill them with hot water using one continuous pour. The herbs mixed with the hot water and steam rose from them, hitting his neck, chin, and cheeks and turning them a shade of red to match his nose.

 

He delivered the mugs to his husbands, the steam tickling his chin as he held the mugs against his chest to be able to carry three at a time. Frár got his first, as he had asked first, only the dwarf winced as he took his first swallow. “Sniff! Take it slow, love,” Oin advised. “Let the herbs have time to do their job against your sore throat, aye?” Next was Nord’s, though the dwarf was too sniffly to drink at present. So Oin took his handkerchief, cupped it to his nose, and ordered him to blow. “Give it one great big honk, love. There, that’s it. Again?” Nord blew and blew, a task that seemed endless but finally resulted in holding back the tickles long enough for Nord to drink a bit. Then he helped the weakened Eagen to sit up and scoot over so that he was back-to-back with Nord to keep them both upright as they drank; the last thing Oin needed was one of them choking and hurting their throats more with harsh, unnecessary coughing. 

 

Then he took his handkerchief out to mop at his face, feeling that a nose dripping while he was preparing dinner was not at all delectable. But the moment he lowered the handkerchief, his nose ran again, so up it came to stay. He would have to chop and add ingredients with only one hand, it seemed.

 

But one attempt at that had part of a carrot shooting off the cutting board, despite the sides Eagen had built it to have long ago, and onto the floor. The only solution, then, was to sniff and to do a lot of sniffing. Oh, his sore nose felt a twinge of discomfort every time he sniffed, but it allowed him the use of both hands.

 

He made slow work of the remainder of the stew's ingredients, slicing and cutting and sniffling all the while. Potatoes. “Sniff!” Onions. “Sniff!” Leeks. “Sniff!” Parsnips. “Sniff!” It wasn't until he'd slid the whole contents of the cutting board of vegetables into the pot hanging over the fire. He sipped his hot drink as he reached for the spices. “Sniff!” Oin and Gloin were alone in preferring food to be rather on the bland side, but spices were good for a cold and his other husbands all liked it spicy. So this is why he came within a shake of over-seasoning the stew. Even with his stuffed-up nose, he could smell the intense spices. They made him feel a bit dizzy. Or perhaps that was because of the heat of the fire. Or the steam coming off the mug of tea. He felt the ladle slip from his fingers.

 

The next thing he knew, he was lying on his back amidst the blankets, looking up as three of his husbands stared down at him. “What…?” He raised his hand to his head and found there a cool compress. There was an ache at the back of his head, and he realized there was a coolness pressed there as well by one of his husband’s kind hands.

 

“Overworked,” Frár explained.

 

“Overheated,” Nord added with agreement.

 

“Gloin would be furious with us if he knew you had passed out,” Eagen said, glancing at the door as if Oin’s younger brother would come bursting in just then.

 

Oin closed his eyes a moment, trying to figure out how badly he had hurt himself. There would be a bruise where he hit his head when he felt, and he was still a bit light-headed, but there wasn’t much damage done. “I should have been more careful. I should have been stronger.”

 

“Nay,” Eagen told him, removing the cool compress, pressing a kiss to his forehead, then pressing it down again on its other side where it was cooler. “Gloin would be furious to know we had pushed you to that point. We take you for granted, Oin. We should have been looking out for you.”

 

“You care for us, we care for you,” Nord kissed one cheek.

 

“I will go rescue the stew,” Frár said, kissing the other cheek.

 

“Oh!” Remembering the stew, Oin tried to sit up, but Eagen and Nord held him down, snuggling up to each side of him. Once the blankets were drawn up over them, Oin let himself rest until the meal was ready.  

 

*

 

The four of them lazed about on the blankets, drifting to and from sleep as they needed to. Nord lay on his chest, arms crossed beneath his chin, one hand clutching a handkerchief. Eagen sat on the backs of his thighs, combing and braiding Nord’s hair meditatively. Oin lay between them and Frár, who lay curled and shivery against Oin’s warm body. But every time Oin covered him up, he complained he was burning up and pushed the blankets back off again.

 

“Does suh-someone have a spare handkerchief?” Frár’s scratchy voice was full of tickles and thick with congestion. “M-my nose is ruh-running again.”

 

Nord took a handkerchief from the stack near him and passed it back to Eagen who passed it to Oin who pressed the handkerchief to Frár’s face. Frár gave a light blow of his nose then several productive coughs into the folds.

 

“Does andyonde have sombthindg to eat? Eagend’s stomach is ndoisy.”

 

Busy combing, Eagen nodded his approval of the question.

 

Oin passed over what remained of the previous meal he hadn’t had a proper appetite for at the time. Eagen hungrily dug into the biscuits and chunk of meat with his free hand, still combing with the other.

 

Without his husband tugging at his hair, Nord fell asleep, and soon his snores drowned out the sound of Eagen eating. But not of Eagen sneezing. With his fever down, his sneezes were up. “ehhhh… ehh-Ehktchhhh! EhhTshhh! Eh… ehhhKehshhhh!” This particular fit was especially persistent, each sneeze triggering the one following it. “eh-ehhTIHShhh! Kehshhhh! EhhKihshhh! EhChishhh! Ehh… ehhhhhhhhh… ehhhhhhhhh…” Just when the fit of sneezing might never end, he wound up for another sneeze that did not seem to want to come.

 

“Is that all you have, love?” Oin teased. “Nord could sneeze circles around you.”

 

Eagen grunted in annoyance and grunted to let him know he was done sneezing for now.

 

Well-versed in his husband’s grunts, Oin gave a teasing grin. “Sure about that?”

 

There was another grunt, this one meaning that his patience was swiftly running out.

 

Oin pulled away from Frár to sit up and get a better angle. “All right. Now I’m going to wipe your nose dry, and I’ll try my best not to tickle your nose to set it off again.”

 

One more grunt indicated that Eagen trusted him.

 

Very carefully, Oin touched the handkerchief to his husband’s nose. He did not want the touch to be ticklishly light or so strong it hurt his sore nose. It worked.

 

Or it almost worked. “EhhKITChhhhh!

 

Nord stirred beneath him. “Blessings,” he murmured. Then he promptly sneezed into his arm and fell back to sleep.

 

Frár chuckled and tugged Oin’s arm, pulling him back down to snuggle up with again. Only a few minutes after they grew comfortable and warm, Frár’s hand began to wander downward to touch them both. He shivered until Oin pulled him into an embrace and began grinding against him. And he didn’t start shivering again until after they had both come. But when Eagen reached over to cover them both tenderly with a blanket, Frár kicked it down again.

 

*

 

The only thing that could have torn Oin away from the warm mass of sleeping dwarven bodies around him was a knock on the door. The door was unlocked, of course, so the knock meant uncertainty and hesitation. Perhaps it was someone checking on them or bringing them something? Or perhaps it was young Gimli stumbling upon them and wondering what was going on? Oin placed a gentle kiss on Nord's cheek and then dropped another to Eagen's warm forehead before extricating himself. The tangle of limbs was a maze he very nearly could not find his way out from beneath. But he managed crawling out around Frár, whose drowsy eyes followed him from the great fire to the door.

 

Oin swiped a hand under his own nose to be sure he was somewhat presentable before opening the door just a crack. He was met with a sliver of Toron's face staring back at him. Toron knew how isolation worked. Toron would not have disturbed them unless it was something of the utmost importance. Perhaps there were something wrong with Gimli? Or perhaps some enemy were attacking the caves and every dwarf was needed to strengthen the defenses?  “Toron? What is the matter?” he asked softly, so as not to wake any of their sleepy husbands.

 

“Oin,” Toron said, his voice gruff and broken. “I hate to admit it, but I don't feel so well.”

 

Oin pulled the door open wider to find Toron hugging himself, arms crossed over his chest. His nose looked a little flushed at the nostrils. And his eyes were watery and over-bright.

 

“I think I might be ill.” He sniffed. “But I nev... I never catch... hahhh-ih-HIPTSHUHhhhhh! Huh-Ihktshhhhh!

 

“Bless.” Oin reached forward and patted Toron's upper arm. “In this family, you should know better than to say never. It looks like the cold caught you. Come in, Tor. I'll look after you. We'll all look after you.”

 

Looking hesitant and shivering a little, Toron walked in, closing the door behind him.

 

Immediately he was embraced by Oin, who pulled him over toward the great nest of dwarves on the fur rug. It was all warm bodies and hair and blankets. And there were sniffles and coughs as well of course, but Toron hardly noticed his discomfort as Nord wrapped a blanket around him, Eagen nuzzled into his side, Frár draped an arm and leg over him, and Oin brought a handkerchief. It wasn't as full as their usual marital bed; it wasn't a bed at all, in fact. But there was companionship and comfort and everything a dwarf needed to feel better when ill.