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undeniable certainty

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The hands were warm on him, around him, and that was a comfort, one of the last comforts he would ever know in this world and that hurt more to realize than the stab-wound killing him with an undeniable certainty.

Because he was leaving the best man who had ever loved him behind, and Dwalin didn’t deserve that, to be left like that, to have Nori’s blood all over him, because there was no stopping it, nothing but delaying the inevitable.

Nori gasped and it was wet, his lungs… there was blood in his mouth, his heartbeat was erratic.

‘Nori…’

He had not been good enough to Dwalin to have earned that horror in his voice, that pain, there had always been too many lies between them, it wouldn’t hurt to lie some more, just to hear Dwalin chuckle in exasperation one last time, because this was the end of everything… of them.

‘It’ll... be... fine…’ It would have been more convincing had he not needed to gasp so when speaking, press even tighter against the wound and the ripped cloth soaking in the blood. An upwards stab, one Nori had used time and again, he knew what it did, how there was no coming back, no healer to patch him up this time.

Dwalin chuckled in exasperation, as Nori had known that he would, the arms around Nori tightening. ‘Help is coming,’ Dwalin sounded as gutted as Nori was, and why shouldn’t he, when his world was coming apart. ‘We can fix this,’ was a bald lie on his lips, a futile hope.

In these, his dying moments, Nori regretted being so important to Dwalin, because… He would have rather have killed Dwalin in his sleep than to die himself knowing how much it was hurting and would hurt Dwalin, for the rest of his days. The most foolish thing Dwalin ever did was falling in love with Nori, though Nori had been equally foolish.

Nori looked Dwalin in the eye and saw his death there, saw that Dwalin was lying for his sake.

And... he suddenly and desperately didn’t want lies here, not when his head was swimming, not when his fingers were going numb, not when he felt like the only thing keeping him alive were Dwalin’s arms around him. ‘No... lies…’

There was a horrible, wounded gasp and Nori didn’t know if it was him or Dwalin, his head was… he couldn’t...

‘Please, Nori…’ The hurt of now and future rang in Dwalin’s voice, shook through his arms, made his face wet with shameless tears of tomorrows lost. ‘I can’t…’

Nori opened his mouth and choked and coughed and spat out blood and he was dying but he… he needed… ‘I… I… know…’ He wished for time, ached for more, would have sold his soul for it, for living and wiping away those pained greases from Dwalin’s face, where they had no business being, brush away the tears and kiss Dwalin with all he had, holding him and not letting go. A big hand pressed hard over his own.

But it was not that bad dying in a husband’s embrace, warm and safe, even when those were the lies of a dying mind, just fiction until there would be nothing more, no more breath, feel, sight or sound, until there would be nothing for Dwalin to hold but a useless corpse, Nori busy pleading with Mahal himself to be allowed back, just to stop Dwalin’s tears.

He was choking. ‘Dwalin… cold…’ His sight was failing him, he would have cursed, had he had the energy for it, he wanted… ‘I love…’ He choked, falling, breaking, dying, hurting, ‘Dwalin… I… love…’

‘Don’t go, Nori, don’t go, don’t go, don’t--’ were the last things that he ever heard, enough to tether him in spirit, but lacking the magic to fix his dying wound, but he… he wanted…

…Dwalin.