A Diamond Between Wood and Stone
Summary: Legolas and Gimli spend a long-anticipated night
together in Minas Tirith, not long after the coronation of King
Disclaimer: The characters in this pastiche, which is
written exclusively for the enjoyment of myself and friends,
belong entirely to J. R. R. Tolkien and his estate, and this
pastiche is not meant to infringe in any way upon their rights.
Warning: A great deal of dialog. Beware: bearskin
. I will be happy to have it archived elsewhere; please
let me know. Feedback is welcome.
"Here are my rooms," said Legolas as they ascended
the last flight of stairs into the house in the high circle of
Minas Tirith. It was early evening; the sun had just begun
its journey into night, and the light that streamed through the
tall windows had the hue of red gold. A banked fire
smoldered on the broad hearth, for the evening was cool.
Legolas entered and set the leather bottle of wine down on a
table near the door, swept off the long grey cloak and hung it
on a hook set in the wall.
A heavy key, of graceful shape, was in the ancient lock, and
the Elf turned it. Gimli heard the snick of intricate
wards as he glanced around the room. It was spacious and
tall-ceilinged, and long windows looked out upon the city below.
A bed of dark wood, hung with rich cloth, stood in a corner, and
Legolas' few effects were here and there, the great bow leaning
unstrung in a corner, a few clothes hanging in a wardrobe near
the door, but the room was impersonal. Another door led to
a small dressing room. Pleasant enough, Gimli thought, though
too lofty for his tastes. He had claimed a room on the
ground floor of the building.
"Now finally we are alone, Gimli, you and I,"
Legolas said softly, "free at last of war and strife.
How my heart has yearned for this hour! Rarely in the many
days of my life have I felt such impatience. Gimli!"
He held out his long hand, and it seemed, in the uncertain light,
to tremble. "Say you have felt the same!"
Gimli, cowed by a curious, unexpected bashfulness, reached
forth his own broad brown hand, and hesitantly its strong blunt
fingers closed over the slender white ones stretched toward him.
Legolas breathed deeply at the contact, and it even seemed to
Gimli that a glitter of tears rose briefly in his clear grey
"I would," the dwarf said, his deep voice
unintentionally gruff, "If I could believe that such a
being as yourself could feel for a creature such as me with the
same passion I feel for you. Legolas! Do you know
what you are doing?" Abruptly he released the Elf's
hand and turned away, his cheeks burning, driven by some
destructive desire to point Legolas' folly out to him.
"You have brought to your chamber the laughing-stock of all
other races--especially your own, to whom a beard is
as appealing as a wart. You, Legolas, are a creature of
light and air, a jeweled bird flitting among the blossoms of an
eternal spring, and I--I am a mole!" He spoke
bitterly, with heat, but his tone rang hollow, like that of an
actor on a stage, wanting not to convince, but to be proven
Then indeed the Elf did laugh at him, a gentle sound like the
chuckle of water that stirs a quiet fountain. "A
jeweled bird!" he chided, but his voice was full of warmth
and tenderness. "No bird am I, but a long-horned ram
with a passion for moles!"
Gimli turned, his eyes still glowering and distrustful,
deepset beneath dark bushy brows, but a rueful smile already
pulled at his ruddy lips, and Legolas, with the grace of a bird
indeed, swooped upon him as he turned. They clung to one another
clumsy in their need in this first true embrace, and their kiss
was long and hungry. When at last it ended they did not
draw apart, but held one another tightly, and now it was Gimli
who felt the heat of tears for a moment in his eyes.
"You are the most beautiful thing my eyes have seen,"
he whispered at last, his voice failing him. "Save
only the Lady Galadriel, and it was she who read this wish in my
heart, to my dismay! Long ago it seems. Ah, Legolas,
Legolas! Not til then did I dare hope--I did not dare even
dream--! How could I? And yet, here I am, in your
arms. . ."
Legolas held him the tighter, his face pressed into the
dwarf's short neck where the hair grew stiff on the swarthy skin.
He turned his head a little to speak. "What she read
in my heart was no less than this, Gloin's son: no longer a wish
but a passion of fire. By the time we reached Lorien,
indeed, I had already lost my avian heart, to--a mole."
He drew back a little and stood beaming, his hands on Gimli's
broad shoulders, head cocked slightly to one side as he admired
the dwarf with proprietary pride. The elf's cheeks were
flushed, and his eyes bright as stars.
"Yet I denied the truth of it, even to myself, for I had
not the faintest hope that the mole returned my love. It
was not until the Lady of Lorien laid bare to me the secrets my
heart had kept that I understood truly the nature of my passion,
and in words unspoken she gave me to know that there was reason
to hope, and sheared through both shame and confusion to the
love that lay beneath. What she knew of you I did not dare
ask, but I moved to befriend you in earnest.
"It astonished me, Gloin's son," he said solemnly.
"And I'll admit at first it was not a love for your form--though
from the moment I met you I thought you hard and well-made as a
stone house. But you were true, and courageous, and most
of all, passionate--yes, you showed your passions despite your
efforts to hide them, like white flame in a dark lantern--for
those things you loved: the earth, and work of craft and cunning;
and before long I found I wished I were one of those things, to
feel the beam of your love turned upon me like the heat from a
forge. And then I saw how the nature that I admired was
reflected in this strong and sturdy form. I would eye your thick
limbs when I thought you did not see--" here Legolas' hands
stroked down the dwarf's arms, "these broad muscles, these
strong arms, these powerful shoulders! And yes, this beard!
This great, full, shining nimbus of fur that puts to shame the
massy brambles of Mirkwood! Now, Gimli, your beard shall be mine
to build a jeweled bird's nest in, and I pray you give me leave
to perch myself here, too happy to fly elsewhere."
To Gimli's amazement and delight, Legolas dived his fine pale
face into the dwarf's beard and nuzzled it, tickling, until
Gimli was forced to retreat, bellowing in laughter.
The embrace had been the first wonder; this laughter the
second. Elf and dwarf laughed and wrestled until they
staggered and fell, unhurt, onto the thick bearskin rug before
the fireplace, and there they lay together, until the laughter
died away and excited breath was caught. "You smell of the
fertile earth, fresh-turned in the field; and hot coals; and
iron; and leather; and the honest sweat of a just warrior,"
Legolas said after a pause, and now his voice was soft and
solemn, intimate. "It maddens me--my heart is full of
it. Ah!" The elf closed his long eyes, savoring the
moment, and his lips hovered by Gimli's, his sweet-scented
breath mingling with the dwarf's. The kiss that followed
was gentle and effortless, as natural as spring.
Gimli's hand groped in the smooth cataract of elven hair,
touched a velvet cheek, trailed a thumb down the strong cords of
Legolas' long, graceful throat, across the straight shelves of
his clavicles. But when his fingers began to pluck at the
buttons of the loose shirt the elf faded from his touch like a
Opening his eyes in surprise Gimli found Legolas sitting with
his slender legs folded beneath him, regarding him solemnly.
The elf's eyes were wide and dark--with trust, Gimli thought at
first, a deep trust, and then, *no, not trust,* for trust puts a
burden on the one who is trusted not to betray the other, and
there was no such burden in Legolas' waiting gaze. It was
as if he were open, receptive to anything, as if he might accept
a blow with the same surrender that he would a kiss.
The strange receptive stare, this state beyond trust, burned
Gimli's heart like a coal. "By the beard of Durin!"
he muttered, fumbling with the thongs that bound the waist of
his breeches, "I shall wait no more for this pleasure!"
But there was, after all, a limit to the receptivity.
The elf shot out a slender hand that touched his own, stopping
them. "Not yet, Gimli, I beg you," he said
gently, and his voice was rich with emotion. "I would
drink more deeply of the tension of anticipation. I wish
to savor this act for which my heart so hungers, not devour it
at a gulp. Wait yet a little."
"I can refuse you nothing," Gimli said gallantly,
though in some confusion. His misgivings abruptly aroused again,
he held Legolas' gaze for a few seconds, searching for some sign
of rejection or trickery, but could find nothing in the elf's
exquisite features save a hungry attention to his own: he who
had hitherto laughed and found a joke in everything was now
unrelievedly in earnest, and Gimli felt uncomfortable.
"I wish," Legolas said softly, "that you would
not look at me so. Think you still that I would deny you
or betray you? There is naught in my heart for you but
love and desire. I swear this."
Gimli was further disconcerted by having his fears so
accurately pegged. He crossed his stocky arms over his broad
chest and snorted. "All you elves still seem uncanny
to me," he grumbled. "How am I to know what
you're thinking? And may I not be suspicious when he who
professes to desire me puts the consummation of that desire away
Legolas rolled down onto his side and propped himself on a
bent elbow. For a moment an enigmatic smile touched his
lips, then the brooding, receptive gaze returned. "It
is no more than the difference in our races, I think," he
said. "My life has been long, and my moments of great
happiness short, and I know beyond certainty that such a moment
comes. It will come, and I
shall relish it, and it will be gone forever, a flash in the
long twilight--though I hope many other such times await us.
Still, this first will be a special pleasure, and I will relish
it the more the longer I wait, here at the edge of its
Although he had not moved, his attitude was so voluptuous,
and his voice so breathily intimate, that Gimli was convinced in
spite of himself. He wondered if the acts of love and even
the sensations of pleasure might differ between elves and
dwarves, and banished the anxiety-provoking thought impatiently.
"Very well, Legolas. Yet I would drink deeply of
something more than anticipation, if wait I must. Where is
Legolas silently pointed to the table by the door, where the
flagon and a stoneware goblet stood. "We shall have
to share the cup," he said.
Gimli fetched them, and seated himself cross-legged beside
Legolas on the skin. He drew the stopper with his teeth--small
square teeth, strong and very white--and held it there while he
filled the cup to the brim with a flourish. The wine was
good, rich red wine of Gondor, and Gimli drained the goblet in
three healthy swallows, then held it up and eyed the drop that
ran down its side, folding his plump lower lip over the upper to
suck away the remnants of wine from his moustache.
He heaved a contented sigh and refilled the cup, offering it
to Legolas who accepted it and rolled over onto his belly, a
little closer to the dwarf, to sip at it.
Gimli tentatively laid his hand on the long curve of the
elf's back and waited a moment, fearing a further rebuff, before
reaching beneath the linen to stroke the smooth and pliant skin
still unseen beneath the light shirt. *He's all softness,*
Gimli thought, *but it's like supple leather over tempered steel,
a yielding overlay for the stiffest strength.* Again he
reached, now running his fingers through the elf's sleek hair,
heavy in his hand like precious metal, night-colored and glossy
and slick. Legolas expanded with a silent breath.
"I knew, and yet I was unsure," he whispered into
the depths of the cup. "But your touch thrills me to the
core, body and soul, and there is no doubt in my heart any more."
"Had you doubts?" Gimli demanded, quick to sense
Legolas looked at him, and his steady eyes glinted in the
firelight. The deep gaze was cryptic, yet masked nothing.
"Had you none, Gimli? Have you not wondered what
comes after? Shall we separate, and pull apart forever a
love which has not existed elsewhere since the world was made--or
shall you take me to live buried in stone with you at the
Mountain? Would your lord welcome me? And how would
your father greet me, not only male, not only an elf, but
the son of his jailor of old? Aye, and maybe he even
remembers my face, if elves are not all a blur of beardless
chins to him! Remember his tone at Rivendell!
"Or, Gimli, would you like to come home with me to the
green shadows of Mirkwood, and run and frolic under leaves and
stars, singing from morning to night? And would you like
to meet *my* father, and be introduced to him as the end of his
line?--for if all goes as I foresee, there will be no sons of
Legolas. Mirkwood is not Lorien: the Lady welcomed and
abetted our affection; I assure you Thranduil will not.
For love of me he might tolerate it, but only at cost to that
love, and I would as soon grieve his heart as yours. There
will be no keeping it from him, yet if I love him it will not do
to force him to look upon what he will not wish to see--good may
still come of it if I treat with him gently. Now there is
a friendship between the Mountain and the Wood, but it is a
partnership of trade and defense; I fear what an announcement of
our more intimate partnership may cause."
Gimli was silent for a moment, and he took the wine-cup back
from the elf and swallowed another deep draught. "You
have looked farther ahead than I, then," he confessed,
wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "I had
not looked beyond this night's pleasure. But you are right:
our people are still far sundered, and our union will do nothing
to bring them closer." He sighed and combed his
moustache with his lower teeth, his heavy brows knitted.
"And yet, Legolas, I would not forgo this tryst, although
if you wish it, I will depart." He fell silent, and
Legolas smiled, but it was not a merry smile. "Have
I not already said my heart is committed to you, child of the
race of Durin, for good or for ill? Am I wrong to look ahead--have
I misjudged the depth of your affection? Foresight may fail in
matters too close to the heart. Would you laugh if I say
that the thought of the sea troubles me in part because it means
my eventual separation from you, or that my proposal to dwell in
Ithilien was largely for thought of staying far from either
Mountain or Wood, or will you grow angry at my presumption?"
Gimli looked at him, eyes dark and hidden beneath gathered
brows. "I would do neither, Legolas, but I would say
that perhaps *I* have misjudged *your* affection, and I ought to
be ashamed and beg your pardon. Parting from you for ever
would be hard indeed! Yet I hope that somehow we may reach
a solution--and that your departure overseas may be indefinitely
"I hope it may be many years," Legolas said, his
voice soft and sad, "Yet even then it may be too soon, too
soon." He rested his head on his shapely arms, his
smooth brow contracted, and gazed into the fire, as if into a
Gimli scowled. "Is there indeed something here I
do not understand, my friend? Is there yet more to this
melancholy? Tell me now! For I know not enough of
your race to read what passes in your heart as you seemingly
read mine, and I would know what you are keeping from me, if it
has aught to do with our happiness."
Legolas chuckled softly, not in mirth but in tenderness.
"Yet you read me well, dear Gimli. Yes, there is more,
but I need not speak of it--it concerns me, and not you, and I
am wrong to let it color this night. Let us leave it now."
Gimli struck his stocky thigh with a clenched fist.
"No!" he exclaimed. "Do not let me glimpse some
mysterious pain and then tell me to let it lie! One moment you
talk of a lasting union between us, the next you tell me to mind
my own business! One thing is clear to me, Legolas: that
from this moment what concerns you concerns me. What is
this seeming sorrow?"
Legolas sat up slowly and regarded Gimli for a little in
silence, and in his eyes was again the deep, accepting openness,
though now the set of his mouth was grim. "You would
have me speak of it--even if, after I speak, you leave
Gimli felt his heart caught, but answered staunchly, "I
"Should that happen, should I unmeaning drive you away,
by this time tomorrow I shall either be on a ship sailing toward
the open sea or lying in this room with my throat cut by my own
hand," Legolas said with sudden, unexpected violence.
"You try me sorely, Legolas," Gimli said steadily,
although his hands were clenched so that the knuckles showed
yellow through the dark skin. "Do Elves suffer the
clap? Have they shearing teeth in the nether regions? What
is this terrible thing? Speak!"
"I did not say 'terrible'," Legolas' long hand
moved out to cover Gimli's fist. "It is only this:
Never has anyone, man, woman, elf or otherwise, entered my body,
nor have I entered the body of another. Do you understand?"
"What? What!" Gimli's hooded eyes were suddenly
wide open under raised brows. "You're a *virgin*?
An elf who has lived to see many elms grow from acorns to a 'ruinous
age'? You mean you've never--? What, in Durin's name,
do you do in those woods that would prevent--"
The elf was gesturing for silence, his eyes tight shut and
brows knit as if in pain, and when Gimli bit back his surprised
outburst, Legolas laid his hand across his own mouth for a
moment, and continued with an effort, as if he were embarrassed
or ashamed, "Leaving aside the question of what I have seen
grow from acorns, Gimli, I am indeed a virgin in your parlance.
That does not mean I have not lain beside many an elvish beauty,
both maid and man--for I have. Like the dolphins of the
sea we touch and part, and carry in our hearts forever a memory
of those whom we have touched. But, Gimli, my dear Gimli,
don't you see--there can be only one true lover for us, only one
mate. When the bodies are joined, the souls are joined--so
it is for
the elves. It is a burden I am willing to bear alone, and
would have borne in silence forever had you not desired me to
tell it--for your desires shall to me be as law. I did not
want to put it upon you, for I have told you: my choice is made.
Now must you make yours: to be my fate, or my doom, one or the
other. There is now no third road."
Gimli bit his lower lip, running the stiff black hairs of his
beard back and forth against his teeth as he thought.
"You mean that if we make love, body within body, tonight,
that you will never do so with another, of any race? That
if I spend my desire inside you, as I have so long ached to do,
you will never father a child, or take a wife, or--or when you
cross the sea--alone--?"
Legolas' pained silence was his only answer, and Gimli,
letting out a long "Whew!" of breath, fell heavily
onto his back and stared at the dark beams of the tall ceiling,
resting an arm across his brow. The room felt suddenly too
warm. "This is a hard thing! I had no idea you elves
worked on such a stupid system," he announced. "Why,
since I came of age, few weeks indeed have passed that I have
not 'tempered my steel' in the flesh of one of my race, or more:
strong bearded warriors, eavy-breasted wenches, slim youngsters
of either sex. It seems to do us no harm! My people
deem it good for the health, and say it gives a man strength and
sharp vision, steady hands for fine smithcraft. Like a
meal taken or deferred til later, it is so inconsequential a
"But not to the elves. It is the way of things,"
Legolas said dully. "Believe that I would not have it any
other way, nor would I change my heart's choice of you.
And Gimli, though it troubled me that you did not know, smacking
of deception, again I say to you that I did not wish to put the
burden of this knowledge upon you. I am sorry."
"Dwarves," Gimli said firmly after a pause, "are
made to bear great burdens. As are elves, apparently,
though I knew it not--you may banish the sorrow from your mind!
Legolas, still I can scarce believe that your feelings for me
are such that you would risk--such loneliness!--for what may
prove at the last only a short game of grunt-and-thrust!"
"Gimli!" Legolas said, his voice suddenly urgent.
"Surely we have said enough! I wish I had not spoken.
It matters not! It matters not whether we dwell together
until the sun falls into the sea or part for ever before the
dawn. You are he for whom I have waited, and all the
acorns that ever fell in Mirkwood would indeed grow to mighty
elms before ever I found another!"
Gimli sat up and looked hard in Legolas' ardent eyes.
He held out a small square hand and the elf took it in a heated
grip. "You have uttered a noble challenge," said
Gimli. "Time will tell if I am equal to the task--but
it would be a poor man of any race who would not break his heart
in the attempt. Never has Gloin's son been called
oathbreaker, and I swear
this to you, Legolas: while I have command of breath and limb
you will never suffer loneliness that I might have prevented.
Upon my heart I swear it."
In a gesture of gratitude too great for words Legolas lifted
Gimli's hand and pressed it to his lips. He turned his
cheek against it, and perhaps tears fell upon it. Many
breaths passed in silence before he spoke. "Never have my
ears heard fairer words, Gimli son of Gloin. Once again my
heart's choice of you is justified. I accept your oath
with gladness. But do not misunderstand! I would not
have you suffer deprivations unnatural to your race: it is
as a dwarf that I love you, and I hope you may father many
sturdy dwarflings, and brighten the eyes of many a
brawny-thighed dwarf-lover! Now, come!" he
lifted his head and again the unfathomable eyes were full of joy
and laughter. "Come! Show me what Durin's folk
are made of--and show me where your beard ends, if there be an
end to it!"
Gimli sat upright, reluctantly separating from the elf.
Legolas watched dreamily, reclining at full length, lips parted,
and his hands twined slowly, like growing vines behind his
silken head. His eyes were as grave now as they had been full of
laughter moments before, open and unguarded, a window to the
ocean of his soul.
Gimli felt the bashfulness return--a fear of
disappointing the brilliant gaze that was turned hungrily
upon him, or of occasioning, even now, the laughter of real
ridicule. He felt he would rather die, indeed, spitted twisting
upon an orc's spear, than risk either of these terrible dangers. He
moved slowly, unbuckling his broad belt from around his waist
casting it rattling on the floor, pulling off his woolen
tunic and shirt beneath and feeling the splash of cool air
on his breast and back, hardening the ruddy nubs of his
nipples. The left was pierced with a thick ring of
red gold, set with a bright diamond and two fiery rubies, small
but splendid. The stones gathered light and glinted
against Gimli's tawny skin
and the plentiful dark hair of his breast.
Legolas eyed it in soft wonder. "I have
often seen men and dwarves with
rings through their ears," he said, "but
never such jewelry as you wear."
"What," the dwarf said, his voice gruff to
hide his embarrassment, "never
seen a pierced pap? Then you have spent far too
little time with naked
dwarves." He chuckled suddenly. "We
may remedy that, I hope. Do you--do
you find it pleasing?" He glanced at the elf
anxiously, then away again,
brushing at the ring as if to settle it flat to his skin.
"It is strange to me," Legolas replied.
"But it is not *un*pleasing, and the stones are beautiful.
The rubies are like embers, and the adamant gleams like a star
above your heart." He reached up with a long-fingered
hand and traced the circle of the ring, toyed with it, brushed
the nipple behind it. Gimli felt his heart stumble under
the touch, his breath suddenly short. "They are fine
stones," he said huskily.
"Will you take down your hair?" the elf
asked softly. "I would see it unbound."
Gimli smiled at the request, pleased, and Legolas grinned to
see the glitter of his deepset eyes--not large, but brown and
expressive under their equally facund brows--and the curve of
his deep-colored lips like a ripe cherry. With hands
whose quickness belied their stubby appearance he unbound the
bit of leather that held his hair braided and doubled upon
When it was undone and roughly combed with his fingers,
Gimli's hair tumbled past his shoulders, thick and wavy,
coarse-textured but soft to the touch, slightly woolly.
Its color was a rich dark brown, close to black yet still with a
sheen of chestnut; here and there grey hairs were streaked among
the darker. To Legolas he looked potent and kingly, as if
some deep nobility was revealed with the loosed hair.
"Now that you have seen my pelt, do you still hold
to your plan?" the dwarf
asked. "Shall I still play locksmith to your
inmost doors, or merely frot
against you like a shaggy dog?"
Legolas laughed, a bright unencumbered outburst of pure
saw silver and colored jewels in his mind at the sound.
"Oh, son of Gloin!"
he exclaimed at last. "Even if you had proved
hideous I would still love
you--and instead you are a joy and a wonder to me!
You cannot know how
my heart is moved by the sight of you. But it is not
a surprise: you thought
yourself very secretive, no doubt, during our long trek
together, in your
bathing and dressing--but elves are lighter-footed, and
more skilled in
watching unseen than Durin's folk. Long have I spied
on you from hiding,
my shaggy dog, and wondered what jewel flashed on your
wondered at other things I could not make out. Often
enough such glimpses
troubled my sleep."
Gimli opened and closed his mouth twice in search of an
"Why then, why then," he sputtered, a laugh
breaking through in spite of
mock anger and some real confusion, "You owe me a
great debt! Had I such
visions of you, I am sure I would have been a happier
dwarf, stronger in
battle and more creative in masturbation. If you
have not been punished
enough by the sight of a bristly dwarf at his toilette,
you shall be
punished now. Pour me another cup of wine, and show
me your body of mist
and moonlight--you shall be the first to put aside
Legolas' eyes seemed reluctant to unfasten their gaze
from Gimli's broad,
crisply-curled torso, but he sat up slowly and opened the
buttons of his
loose green shirt, one, and then two, and then gracefully,
he pulled it over his head, his hair falling back as he
did so in a satin
cascade that reached far down his spine. "I
shall do as I am bid," he said
softly, the glint of amethyst in his eyes.
The room was growing dark, and his pale skin shone in
the dimness indeed
very like moonlight. He slipped each shoe off,
assisted by the other foot,
loosened the ties that held the cloth close to his slender
Weightlessly he rose, the power of his fine-drawn sinews
giving the lie
to any appearance of frailty, more apt to his thought than
the muscles of men
Gimli was suddenly aware of a growing awe--whether
because some new insight
was upon him or only because of the uncanny beauty of his
lover there was
no telling--and with it a sense of his own inadequacy.
*I should not be
here,* he thought. *How can I think it well to bind
myself to him, like
a fly to a jewel? Galadriel, have you betrayed us?
How can this be right?*
But unaware of Gimli's inner turmoil the elf stood with
his back toward
the dwarf, untied his waistband, and stooping slid the
cloth away, stepping
naked from it to turn and face Gimli, like some perfect
alabaster, his organ of generation a wand of opal and
garnet erect at the
center of his body.
He did not smile, and though his eyes sparkled in the
faint firelight, they
were dark--halls that led perhaps to great palaces--or to
entirely--of beauty and wonder, would Gimli but dare the
open and waiting.
So it was that Legolas stood, open and waiting:
lightning carved in ice
and ivory, lovely and terrible, tender and dangerous,
ancient child of still
more ancient powers--and Gimli's heart quailed. The
enormity of what he
asked broke over the dwarf at last. He sat
thunderstruck, as a wild man
might crouch coming unexpectedly upon an elven-queen
hunting naked in the
wood. He shaded his eyes, as if before a painful
light. "Forgive me,"
he whispered. "Legolas, I am but a creature of
Middle Earth, and I see now
you are truly somewhat more. I should never have
aspired to you, and I
cannot presume to such a union. I am also very ugly."
He felt the air move as the elf crouched beside him,
the light hand cool
on his back. "Nay, child of Durin,"
Legolas murmured, a smile in his
inflection. "An oath you swore to me on your
heart, and I will not let
you out of it so easily as that! We have much to
give each other, you and I,
and much to learn. Perhaps I have already taught you
something: you begin
to see with new eyes. Will you not turn them upon
yourself, and see the
beauty I have learned to adore? For there is the
sweetest lesson of love,
and the greatest gift, and I will be your eager teacher,
if you will accept
"What am I, if not a creature of Middle-Earth?
I have been nowhere else in my life. And what woke Durin,
if your race was not also 'somewhat more'?"
Tears rose again in Gimli's downcast eyes, and he
blinked them away
fiercely. "Do you not understand,
Legolas," he said angrily, "I am afraid.
You are too much for me, and I am not enough for you.
I fear I will
disappoint you; I fear I will give you no happiness at all,
transitory a joy that it will be as if it never was, and
leave on your
heart a wound that will last until the end of time.
I fear my beard
turning grey and my eyes dim, while you remain young and
strong, bound to
me like a deer to a hedgehog. I fear your grief at
my passing, when I must
leave you whether I will or no. Even more I fear
your relief at my
passing! Legolas! You are too great a matter
for me. I am a craven and
a coward. What hope is there, or comfort?"
Gimli, brows wrung, looked up at last into Legolas'
radiant eyes. The elf
squatted close beside him, one hand on Gimli's back, the
other across his
own knee. "Such doubts come late to you,
Gloin's son," said the elf
solemnly, but his tone was light. "I have no
such fears, not anymore:
I have already vanquished them--all, alas, save of the
long parting, but of
that we will not speak again tonight: many long years may
lie between then
and now. These fears you name are not for yourself,
but for me--surely
that is love, not cowardice: it gladdens my heart.
Who has ever dared to
call Gimli Gloin's son a coward, except Gimli? He is
brave indeed who
would, or a great fool!
"It is a hard road we have chosen, or which has
been chosen for us, yet
have the strength to travel it, to whatever end may wait
us. Hard it may
be, but wrong it is not. I cannot say whether we
shall know great
happiness, but already we know great love. Love may
in the end."
"Cheerful lot, you elves," Gimli muttered.
He glanced sidelong at his
companion, and smiled ruefully. His fears were not
but Legolas had quieted them for the moment, and Gimli
could look at him again
with desire rather than a sense only of awe and inadequacy.
"But all this is beside the point," said
Legolas, heaving a deep sigh.
"For I am certain that you demur because you find my
body hideous, and hope
to excuse yourself from my presence..."
Gimli twisted further around in surprise, and found the
brilliant eyes narrowed, his lower lip pinched between his
teeth like a
"Am I wrong?" the elf whispered in the moment
Gimli chuckled. With a shake of his head, he
abruptly threw his arms about
Legolas' narrow body and bore him over onto the rug.
The elf tumbled
submissively, laughing, and lay where he had fallen as
Again he stretched on the rug and lay open to Gimli's
yet strong with supple muscle, skin as smooth as a boy's,
unblemished as the loveliest girl's, cream-colored and
fine against the
rough red hair of the bearskin on which he lay.
Against his shallow navel his elfhood lay, a graceful
curve like a tusk
of flesh. Its head, now fully emerged from its
fleshy cowl, was narrow and
ruddy-hued, the shaft smooth and opaline, darker slightly
than the skin
it lay against, the vessels that striated it subtle color
For a moment, his hand cupped the little purse that
hung below, now tight
and close to his body, then it trailed along the tumid
member and up the
gentle indentation that ran centrally along the smooth
expanse of his
belly, up a notch to track slowly up the lily-white breast,
on which tiny
nipples, the pale pink of apple-blossom, hardened into
Gimli's tongue touched his lips, trying to restore
moisture to a mouth gone
very dry. He knelt down beside the elf--facing him,
for he was not yet
prepared to face the immanence of his sex--and saw Legolas
draw a breath
and hold it as he lay, unmoving, his eyes on Gimli's, and
nothing in them
but acceptance, neither patience nor urgency. He
Gimli's thick-fingered hand stretched out of its own
accord. He looked
at it in renewed wonder as it rested, square and brown, on
breast, on skin fine-textured and smooth as densely woven
silk. The elf's
chest was flat but shapely with subtle sculpted muscle,
not nearly so deep
or broad in proportion as Gimli's own, yet broad enough
collarbones and strong sloping shoulders, tapering down
dolphin-graceful torso to the slender hips. Lightly
he touched a nipple,
and Legolas breathed again, one long breath. He
closed his eyes and arched
luxuriously beneath Gimli's touch, all the smoothness
springing for a
moment into valleys and hills of sinew.
Gimli too drank in a deep breath, and, gently at first,
he pinched the tiny
nipple between his thumb and forefinger, twisting it and
smiling as the
elf's closed lids tightened in proportion with the
pressure he applied.
He brought his second hand into play, at first to slide
over the gentle
contours of his lover's arm and shoulder, then to toy with
nipple, so that Legolas made a sound deep in his throat
and shifted under
the touch like a restive horse, eager and attentive to its
Then Legolas' hands as well came to life, first
squeezing Gimli's solid
forearms as if testing the powerful muscle there, feeling
their way up the
arm, kneading the broad bicep, shifting to caress the
round masses of the
shoulder, sliding down to explore the crisp hair and firm
brawn of the
dwarf's chest, the long nipples like red berries. He
pulled at the ring
gently, threaded a fingertip through it to rub the skin.
He cupped his
palm over the dense mound of Gimli's breast to feel the
pulses of the
strong heart, ran his open hands over the taut, furred
curve of the
Then his fingers stretched upward through Gimli's thick
beard, feeling for
the bold line of the hidden jaw, bones heavy to withstand
the mighty pull
of corded muscles; he limned the outline of the dwarf's
finding the sharp bow of the upper lip beneath its curtain
of wiry hair,
the lower like a pillow, full and generous. Gimli
kissed the questing
fingers again and again, barely brushing them with lip and
His eyes still closed, Legolas drew one hand away to
wander his slender
fingers across the perfect lines of his own longer and
softly coral against the ivory of his cheeks. He
breathed deeply now, his
breast rising and falling under Gimli's hands with a
movement like the sea.
Gimli followed suit, reaching with one hand to trace
the elegant lineaments
of the elf's face. Legolas was real and alive--a
quick pulse beat in his
long throat; his breath was warm on Gimli's hand; his
mouth, when the
dwarf's short fingers slipped between the flawless lips,
was moist, the
tongue soft, and the teeth that closed gently on his
fingers were hard.
Yet even now, so close, so indisputable, the elf seemed a
a vision, a splendid dream not entirely caught in the
world: ethereal, as
if flesh and blood might melt away without warning.
To the dwarf's touch,
used to the stalwart bodies of his own folk, Legolas'
bones seemed as light
and delicate as a cat's, the overlay of pliant flesh and
lithe muscle a
veneer as frail as cobweb.
Gimli felt hot, almost fevered, and overwhelmed.
He did not yet dare to
turn even his gaze farther down the elf's body, so he
paused in his
ministrations to draw breath and calm himself. He
bent to kiss each of
the small nipples and run his tongue over their pebbly
surface, so hard now
that the blood had been driven from them, leaving them a
nearly as white as marble. Legolas sighed as the
dwarf rested his head
on his breast, and for a moment they were both quiescent.
For the first time, Gimli realized he could smell the
fragrance of elf-skin: a fugitive hint of musk like
incense, a trace of
far-off spice, a distant memory of happiness too fragile
Beneath his ear the elf's heart struck swiftly, felt as
much as heard.
pretty drum, this," he said softly, and laid his hand
tenderly over the
place where its motion was strongest. "Light as
the footfalls of a deer
on a forest path."
"Nay, the hammer of Durin is in it!" Legolas
sighed. "Or the hammer of
Gimli. I feel its blows through all my body!"
"Or soon you shall. You know nothing of the
hammer of Gimli as yet!"
Gimli smiled, and at last found the courage to gaze down
the long landscape
of Legolas' belly to where the erect organ lay waiting,
elegant and comely,
a pearl gleaming at its apex. Gimli bit his lip and
moved his hand slowly,
drawing a line down the elf's abdomen. Legolas grew
Not daring to grasp the rod as yet Gimli traced a line
past the elf's
groin, let his fingers slip into the warm crevice between
his sleek thighs,
out again to finger the scant triangle of fine dark hair,
feel it, soft
and curling, between his fingertips.
At last he softly clasped the little sack that lay
between the elf's legs
like a doeskin purse, rolled the weights within against
each other in the
palm of his hand. Legolas' hand tightened slightly
on his shoulder.
The elf made no sound or comment as Gimli's fingers
trailed upward and
gripped the root of his wand--indeed he seemed barely to
breathe; but, more
eloquent than words, his heart doubled its pace beneath
Encouraged, the dwarf let his hand glide experimentally
shaft--already firm, and hardening into crystal under his
around the arrow's point, his thumb smearing away the
silky drop of fluid
it found there.
Gimli raised his hand to suck the taste from his thumb,
but as he lifted
his head the elf jerked under him with a gasp and a laugh,
startled by the
sensation of the beard whisking unexpectedly along his
Thumb still in mouth, Gimli raised himself to look at
Legolas' face, and
found the elf smiling at him, heavy-lidded and lax.
There was a light
dappling of sweat on his brow and lip; Gimli thought he
had never seen him
sweat before, and felt a rush of reverent pride that it
was his presence
which had drawn the dew forth. Immediately the
thought seemed foolish,
and he chuckled at himself.
"Ah! I did not know I could endure such
emotion," Gimli said. He turned
his head to again kiss the soft skin and rest his brow
upon it, and felt
Legolas' fingers caressing his hair, running down his
spine in its deep
furrow between heavy muscles. His hand slipped into
Gimli's breeches and
rested there, curved around the dwarf's solid, furred
"And I did not know I could love such a broom!"
the elf said. "I can
scarce tell what is bearskin and what is dwarf-hide--save
that you are
warmer. You are as hot as the furnaces under the
Mountain, Gimli, and
hard-muscled as a bear in good training--or harder indeed
And it's time I was allowed to inspect those places!
Glimpses in the
wilderness are all very well, but it seems some things
have changed since
then. And I am now convinced your beard forms a
circle around your body,
but I still cannot verify my conviction."
With a sudden lurch Legolas rolled Gimli onto his back
and sat up, bending
to unlace the dwarf's breeches before Gimli had fully
realized his intent.
"Why, here is another beard entirely," the
elf exclaimed as he folded the
leather down, exposing a dark thatch. "And an even
longer nose that puts
the one on your face to shame. Ah, Gimli, you accuse
me of keeping
secrets--I would never have supposed such a metamorphosis
This nose was long enough when I glimpsed it before, but
it has grown
prodigiously--you wield a mighty hammer indeed!"
Gimli folded his arms behind his head and reclined in
satisfaction. He was proud of his sex, thick and dark and
knobbed like the root of an ancient tree, and enjoyed the elf's
admiration. "Barak Khazad," he grunted,
"has more than one meaning in the dwarf-tongue."
"Indeed an enemy has much to fear from the axes of
the dwarves," Legolas agreed, "if your kin all bear
such weighty weapons." With none of Gimli's shyness
he grasped the stout appendage and slid down the substantial
foreskin to expose the whole of the round purple head.
"But I am no enemy and I have naught to fear--I hunger to
learn more of this hammer.
Why--what under sun and star is this--?" His
exploring hand had encountered an unexpected texture in the deep
fur under the dwarf's weighty scrotum.
Gimli obligingly shifted his weight and wriggled out of
the encumbering breeks. "Have a look," he said
complacently, and with his hands pulled one knee up to his chest
to give the elf a better view.
Legolas bent far down, sorting through the dense hair
with his fingers,
eyes wide and surprised. In the tender ridge of
flesh behind Gimli's
genitals were seven gold rings, each as big around as the
elf's thumb, set
close together. The foremost was adorned with
two rubies which flanked
a bright diamond, the twin of the stones in his
nipple-ring, though the ring
itself was larger. Legolas sat back with an open
mouth and put both hands
to his cheeks in an exaggerated gesture of astonishment.
"My dear, mad dwarf!" he exclaimed.
"I confess myself more than
confounded. What lunacy is this? Is it the
final hoard against theft?
Or do you have more gold stashed in even stranger places?"
Gimli snorted at the elf's amazement. "'It
is no hoard!" he said
scornfully. "I would carry greater wealth in my
boot. Say rather that
the dwarves decorate what is dearest to them."
"Decorate! And no doubt they gild daisies
and swallow gems so that their
middens may sparkle. But nay, this is a wonder to me."
"Seven rings indeed--you have kept yours safe enough,
anyway! And I
imagine these too are magical. Suppose I did
this--?" Legolas' hand
flashed out of sight.
Gimli shivered slightly and sighed in happiness.
"You catch on quickly.
." he murmured.
"...Or this..." The elf again grasped the
haft, and Gimli squirmed, with
a deep rumble of approval that turned into a loud groan as
Legolas bent over
him and slipped the head of the hammer into his mouth.
Gimli stared down his body hungrily, drinking in the
sight. Legolas had
clever fingers, and a clever tongue, and with subtle motions
sensations. He tugged and twisted at the rings, both
gently and firmly.
Gimli's hands buried themselves in his shining hair as he
began to ride
the shaft, going farther with each thrust than
"Legolas!" Gimli moaned, "Legolas!
Do you know how long--I've desired this--"
Legolas made a sympathetic sound whose vibrations made
the dwarf's stocky body arch and his hands clutch at the rug.
Suddenly mouth and hands drew away.
"Don't stop!" Gimli gasped.
But the elf had vanished again, and Gimli opened his
eyes in some annoyance to seek him. Legolas was taking a
lamp from the mantel to light it from the fire with a straw.
"It is time for some light," he said without turning.
"I would have a better look at your bejeweled bottom, for
"And I at yours," Gimli muttered, propping
himself on his elbows, "with one squinting eye, and that
before the sun rises."
He spoke to himself, but the elf had quick ears.
He glanced sidelong at
Gimli over his shoulder. "Indeed it has barely
set," he said softly, and,
taking in hand a candle he had lit at the lantern, he
crossed the room,
muscles shifting fluidly beneath silky skin, and seated
himself on the tall
bed that stood in the corner. "Let us leave the
rug," he said. "I need
neither warmth nor fur with you at hand. Come."
*More like a maid than a man, at times*, Gimli thought.
With a grumble
he rose and stumped after him, bringing the full goblet.
The bed, with its old dark wood, and drapes and
dressings of dark green
and blue, looked black in the meagre light, a pool of
shadow in which the elf
reclined, alabaster skin golden in the candlelight.
He lay seemingly
relaxed on one side, his legs dangling over the edge of
The bed, on its tall legs, was too high for Gimli to
spring upon easily
as Legolas had done. A two-step stool stood at the
bedside, but Gimli used
this as a stand for his cup, crossing his arms on the
mattress and setting
his chin on them to be face-to-face with his lover, his
tingling with remembered sensation. "You say
you have conquered all
fears," he said gently. "Yet it might seem
to some that you are afraid."
Legolas' hand reached out to twine Gimli's hair around
its fingers, comb
through the lush beard. "No," he said.
His lips were moist, and darker
than Gimli had yet seen them. "Not in the sense
that I doubt you, or
myself. Yet for me this is a moment as strong as
birth. You do not blame
me for hesitating?"
"Did you hesitate before your birth?"
"It was not an option open to me. Gimli, I
pray you to take the option
away from me now. The time is come, and I find being
poised on the brink
becomes, after all, painful, and I can seem to make no
Gimli nodded, gratified by the honesty of the response.
to regard the elf's lax body, like that of some supple
repose, and stroked a slender flank. "I will
not say I have no appetite
for this! Yet we need not take the final leap all at
once. Will you sit
up, and move a little closer to the brink...of the bed?"
Legolas did so, smiling, and Gimli gently pressed his
knees apart, ran his
calloused palms up the alabaster thighs. He felt the
elf's hands again
in his hair, curving over his shoulders, heard his
deepened breathing as Gimli
bent his head to kiss, first the inside of the knee, then
up the smooth
skin of the thigh, where the hair grew light-colored and
soft. "Every inch
a new joy," he murmured.
"If the Elves knew the joys of a beard,"
Legolas said unsteadily, "no dwarf
would be safe."
"If Dwarves knew the joy of whisking dust from
Elvish thighs," Gimli
answered, flashing him a grin, "no Elf's lap would
want for polishing."
His fingers wrapped around the elven-shaft and he bent at
last to kiss it.
Suddenly he looked up with a start, into Legolas tense,
waiting face. "Is
this...the irretrievable moment?" he demanded,
Legolas gave a single syllable of startled laughter.
"No!" he said
breathlessly, shaking his head. "No. This
is little more than a kiss
between comrades. See, you hesitate yourself, and I
am not alone! No.
You will know when the moment comes. You will feel
it." And then, more
softly, as if to himself, "You must."
For several seconds Gimli paused, disturbed, but then
he shrugged and bent
again to his task.
Soon his anxiety was forgotten by dint of distraction.
The arrow's head
was satiny to the touch of his lips, a phantom taste of
salt at the eye;
a thrill ran through the whole of the elf's body when his
tongue chafed at
the frenum, where shaft and foreskin joined under the
cleft of the head.
With hidden strength Legolas' thighs gripped his sides,
and almost at once
he began to twist and arch under the dwarf's ministrations.
The tender cleavage between the elf's narrow buttocks
was hairless and
humid to Gimli's fingers. He pressed his way down,
searching for the
opening, until it yielded to a questing thumb. It
was elastic, but, the
dwarf thought, extremely tight--virginal indeed.
He lifted his head long enough to wet several fingers
and ease his jaw
while Legolas watched milkily, eyes seemingly unfocused.
Gimli held his
misty gaze as he worked first one, and then two thick
fingers into the
little gateway. He thrust gently once or twice,
stroking the velvety inner
walls. The elf moaned dulcetly.
"Hurt?" Gimli inquired, but Legolas shook his
head violently, the dark hair
tossing like running water. Gimli smiled--*Like a
maid in more ways than
one,* he thought, *and as responsive as a girl with her
whole*-and returned his mouth to the smooth cock with
bringing a third finger into use when it became possible.
Gimli was not unskilled in fellatio, both in extending
and curtailing the
length of play. He had waited too long for his own
satisfaction to wish
to prolong this episode indefinitely, and he played his
gambit to bring it
to an end, using short fast strokes while his inserted
fingers dabbed at the
spot that gave the greatest pleasure.
Legolas heaved on the bed, hands now clenching in the
bedclothes, now on
Gimli's head and hair. He let out a sibilance on
each exhalation that grew
in amplitude as his hips began to rock.
Gimli leaned his left arm on the elf's groin to steady
him, matched his
About a minute passed with gathering momentum, and then
arched toward Gimli and slammed back down, driving his sex
deep into the
dwarf's throat with clenched buttocks. He gave a
wordless sobbing cry and
fell silent, breath captured.
Gimli was ready for the thrust and welcomed it, felt
the silken shaft of
the elf's rod pulse as he braced himself for the rush of
failed to come.
Legolas' body froze in its tight, trembling arc for
several seconds, then
relaxed with a shiver and a gasp.
Gimli, puzzled, made one or two strokes--Legolas' staff
showed no sign of
softening--but the elf jolted and drew a hissing breath as
if in pain, and
Gimli desisted. He stood back and rubbed his aching
jaw, surveying his
lover with a frown.
Legolas lay, panting softly, his breast trembling with
the tumult of his
heart, skin ashine now with sweat. Only a few
seconds passed before he
seemed to recover his breath. "Gimli!" he
"What happened?" the dwarf demanded.
Legolas opened his eyes and frowned back at him.
"What do you mean?"
"Did you come? Or what have I done wrong?"
Legolas laughed and passed both hands over his face,
brushing away the
now-tumbled hair. "Ah, Gimli, I came indeed; I
came like a dragon! I hope
you do not feel cheated: I am saving my seed--it makes the
longer and the next greater: I would share the greatest
with you, and not
spend the best alone."
Gimli looked blank. "You can do that?"
he asked, in spite of himself.
"I have learned," Legolas said, still
grinning. "Though perhaps it is a
skill limited to my kind--I do not know. We have
much to learn of each
other, but it is not time for conversation now. I
hesitate no longer."
Gimli shrugged, and paused for a gulp of wine. He
passed the cup to
Legolas, who drained it and let it fall unheeded on the
"Well," the dwarf said. He was again
feeling daunted, himself hesitant,
his erection long since fallen to half-mast. "Have
we any oil on hand?
You are as tight as a hobbit, my friend, and we will both
be walking like
men of Rohan after a long ride tomorrow, even if both are
Legolas, lithe as a lizard, inverted himself over the
side of the bed and
came up holding a little pot of lard. "Purloined
from the kitchen," he
said with a grin.
"A plain sauce for an elegant dish," Gimli
said with a lifted brow. "I
expected some elvish unguent, delicately perfumed and
magical in its
"Ah, but there are such things!" Legolas
curled around himself to better
see the dwarf. "It would have won me strange
looks indeed had I been so
foresighted that I asked for them from Elrond's household.
. . Even in
Lorien I was not so full of hope, for it seemed far more
likely that I
would wake in Mandos than at your side."
"Small matter. After all the chances we have
run to be here together, lard
will suffice--as it has from the beginning of time."
Indeed Gimli found
homely a salve comforting. "And after all those
chances," he added,
apologetically, "perhaps it is indeed fainthearted
for either of us to
Legolas laughed. "First one and now the
other," he said. "Yet I doubt
that we are drawing nearer to that brink we spoke of.
Let us confer upon
strategy: shall I come down to you, or you up to me?"
Gimli eyed the stepstool, tested its firmness with his
foot. "Perhaps we
may meet in the middle," he said. He climbed
the stool and rocked upon
it--its widespread legs held solid. "This puts
me adequately at your
service--if you would see my face for this first sally.
If you prefer to
turn your back on me, I would understand."
Legolas looked at him sharply but did not deign to
respond. He raised
himself to Gimli's new height and kissed him, hard and
deeply, as if
devouring him, then bent to kiss the broad breast and
pinch the nipples
ungently between his teeth, tugging at the ring until
Gimli gasped. He
moved down the stout body, biting, the sensation balanced
and pain, with one arm around the dwarf's waist to steady
him while he
squirmed and protested weakly. By the time he
reached the bottom of his
belly, Gimli's axe had again brandished itself proudly.
And again Legolas took it in his mouth, sliding down
the haft until the
whole of the organ was sheathed in his throat, drawing
appreciative gasp from his lover.
After only a minute or two he wriggled himself off,
looked up as if to gauge his success by Gimli's face.
Gimli felt the gaze
as a physical impact, like meeting the wild eyes of a
finding in them deep sentience and burning emotion.
The look of the eyes
was almost as powerful a sensation as the touch of the
mouth had been.
Gimli groped for the lard-pot, and Legolas, satisfied
of his intent,
changed his position so that he lay in conjunction to the
shaft to shaft, knees raised.
The dwarf pushed at his thighs, which folded back
almost too easily for
nature of the joints. There would be no problem
there, Gimli thought, no
frustrating tangle of insufficiently-supple limbs.
He pulled back a little
to survey his point of entry.
Even after accommodating three of the dwarf's thick
fingers, the orifice
looked so small and clean that it seemed never to have
been used for its
daily function, let alone any other. Gimli
surreptitiously glanced at his
hand: it too was clean. *Elves,* he thought
with a shake of his head.
Aloud he said cautiously, "I don't want to hurt you.
"What makes you think you *can*?" the elf
demanded, in an imperious tone
Gimli had not heard him use before. "You may
try, if you like! Pain is
only pain because it is an unwelcome sensation--I will
accept none from
Gimli's whiskers twitched skeptically, but he had no
desire to argue--his
attention was elsewhere. He rubbed a generous dollop
of grease between
fingers, and when it was smooth and melted daubed it
caressingly onto his
own staff, and then onto the elf's, holding them together
as he slicked
their surfaces, so that Legolas moaned and clutched at his
approbation not discomfort.
Had Gimli been a younger dwarf, the stimulation which
he had already
undergone would have been too much; he would have spent
himself at that
moment and had to begin all over again at a less
propitious time. But most
dwarves school themselves to endure pleasure as well as
hardship, and in
that way he was better matched with the elf than he
As it was he was content to wait a little, while
Legolas' fingers explored
the meetingplace of their bodies, thrilled at the contact.
When his hand
drew away Gimli pulled back a little to insert a
well-greased finger into
the aperture before pulling the point of his staff into
it. He paused then to look into Legolas' eyes and assure
himself that the
Elf knew what was about to happen, and found Legolas' gaze
again open and
empty of all save endless acceptance.
He pushed more suddenly than he had intended, lust
again kindled by the
clear eyes, driving the whole head of his thick cock into
the elf, but,
true to his word Legolas neither yelped nor flinched.
His lips parted and
he drew a breath, and his eyes became slightly more
unfocused, but the
muscles of his lower body did not tighten, and Gimli found
his entry far
smoother than he had expected.
"Here," breathed the dwarf, reaching out his
hands. "That was harsher than
was meant. Take my hands and guide me as you will,
at a pace of your own
Legolas took them, distantly at first, and then, as
the dwarf braced
against him, back arched and broad arms flexed, he seemed
pulled against him, drawing him further inside. The
elf arched and moaned
as he did so, but he did not let up, and it was with one
that the dwarf was fully sheathed in his body.
Gimli found that he trembled with both joy and
anticipation, and Legolas
trembled as well, both inwardly and out, sending sweet and
from one body to another. They held thus, quaking,
until with a final pull
Legolas raised himself and Gimli bent toward him for a
gentle kiss, cut
short when Gimli's footstool rocked perilously and he
hastened to center
his weight again upon it.
If he did not lean it remained secure, he found as he
began to move. He
drove in short strokes at first, short and slow, letting
his partner grow
accustomed to the motion. Legolas was snug, but not
of as uncomfortably
small a bore as Gimli had feared.
Legolas released his hands when began to thrust with
greater force. One
hand curved around Gimli's side; with the other the elf
grasped his own
and began to stroke it.
His hands freed, Gimli slid them beneath his partner
for better leverage,
gripping and caressing the narrow pads of the buttocks,
thin enough that
bone was palpable through them. Their skin, like
that of the rest of the
elf's body, was smooth and perfect, as fine as an infant's
but firmer and
Galadriel's skin would feel the same, he thought, his
mind wandering of
own accord. Yet with still finer velvet--for at the
crease at the top of
the thigh Legolas had hair like that lower on his legs--and
her stert would
be fuller, rounder, softer, heavier in his hands... the
fantasy grew in
mind; he could see her body, altogether softer and gentler,
bed, breasts full and buoyant, her golden hair tossing in
place of Legolas'
Suddenly the memory, sharp as a slap, came to him of
the words of
Galadriel: *Wherever thou goest my thought goest with thee.
But have a
care to lay thine axe to the right tree*. He
gasped, and actually paused
in his rhythm, shaken. He was guiltily certain that
the Elves would
neither approve--nor understand--nor perhaps even forgive
his thinking of
another in the middle of the act in which he was engaged,
certain that this *was* the act her words referred to; he
Galadriel had seen of him in her mirror.
The jolt was almost enough to sabotage his erection, as
if the Lady herself
had walked in at that moment and pointed an accusing
finger at him, but
before disaster had actually set in Legolas, apparently
unaware of Gimli's
small faithlessness, let out a sudden wail. "Don't
stop!" he cried, his
voice tortured, and beautiful in its pleading.
*A pleasure so rare, and a gift so great is given you,*
Gimli fumed at
himself, *and you dare go hungering for yet daintier meat!*
He grunted an apology and took up his rhythm again,
more slowly as he
gained lost ground, his eyes open this time and riveted on
the body coupled
with his, lest his mind again stray. He had
maintained his tumescence,
but fallen back far from the pinnacle he had approached.
Legolas was nearing a climax, his stroking hand moving
rapidly, his body
taut and twisting. He was silent except for the
breath that hissed hard
through his teeth, eyes closed as his head strained
backward, half lifting
his shoulders from the bed, every muscle limned crisply in
He made one strangled cry as he came, body jolting in
shock after shock
what looked very much like pain, so extreme were the
spasms. Gimli, still
far behind, watched in hunger, felt the reverberations
passing through the
deepest parts of his lover's body, and was surprised by a
bolt that shot
through his own loins, a keen stroke of pleasure that
almost brought him
off against his will.
He stopped thrusting again for a moment, trying both to
savor and subdue
the sensation, and Legolas, lying loose in the reaction,
But his shaft was still hard; again no seed had been
released save a single
drop that lay like a moonstone on his heaving belly.
Almost absentmindedly Gimli picked up the drop on a
finger and stroked it
off with his tongue.
Vague and dilated, Legolas' eyes followed the motion;
he smiled wryly.
"*Now!*" he whispered, and braced himself, the
whole of his lax body
drawing tight again.
Gimli obediently began to pump, slowly so as not yet to
give in entirely
to the arrow of pleasure that still throbbed in him.
Legolas moved with him,
matching and countering his rhythm, deft and adept.
After a minute or two
Gimli reached down and took hold of his cock, working it
in rhythm with
their dance. Legolas laid a hand over Gimli's to
guide it to greatest
Now they held each other's eyes, Gimli's merely
highlights beneath brows
gathered in concentration, Legolas' wide, black, and misty,
as they rocked
in quickening cadence. What passed between them was
a rich conversation,
far too complex for words, far too rapid for memory to
grasp. It was soon
that Gimli felt a veritable storm gather in his balls.
He groaned in the stress of the cresting wave.
"I cannot hold much
longer," he panted, and Legolas, his face wild and
responded with an eloquent little toss of his head that
throughout his body. "*I* have been waiting for
*you!*" he gasped in reply.
No room for laughter. One stroke more, two, three--and
the storm broke.
Gimli stiffened, driving into his lover with all the
of his solid body--it was only Legolas' sudden grip on his
hand that kept him
from overbalancing and toppling the stool.
But that was the moment when all resemblance to orgasms
he had known in
the past ended, for an absolute flame shot up his spine
like a lightening-bolt,
engulfing mind and body as if in a sheet of white flame
that seared away
thought and knowledge and time, devoured selfhood and sex
in a searing conflagration of light.
He might have been lost for one minute or many hours, but, as
he realized when awareness gradually returned, the former was
more likely. He came to himself staring at the ceiling,
the echo of a roar he knew for his own still in his ears,
mingling with the roar of his blood. He had bellowed,
certainly, but he had also been holding his breath. He let
it out explosively and staggered a little, steadied again by
Legolas' grasping hand.
His axe had begun to soften, but when he drew it from its
living sheath he saw it was streaked with blood. He
blew softly in consternation, but had not the strength to be
much disturbed as yet.
Still bemused Gimli heaved himself ungracefully onto the bed,
half unaware of whether it was his limbs or Legolas' in which he
was tangled, first to flop onto his lover--whose belly was slick
with finally-released semen--for a rough embrace, then to one
side of him where he lay and puffed, his breath a hot draft
across Legolas' breast.
Legolas, lips resting against his forehead, listened to
Gimli's blowing with amusement. "Mercy on your poor
anvil!" he said after an interval, for Gimli's heart beat
against him with violence. "I have surely taken
enough pounding from one hammer or another of yours this night.
And I think you may stop pumping the bellows now," he added.
"The forge has overheated and the iron has melted."
He reached between Gimli's legs to illustrate his metaphor.
Gimli, nearly recovered, groaned as Legolas' fingers touched
sore flesh. "Ah, you may laugh," he snorted, "but
I am the one who has nearly killed himself in the service of
love! I am not made for such exertions." But after a
moment he sighed happily. "But do not take that as an atom
Gimli found his beard grasped and his head tipped upward for
a kiss, and when it was done he lay back, still as drunk and
giddy as he had felt, long ago, in the arms of his first lover.
That encounter had been with an older woman of high skill, such
as are held in great esteem among the dwarves, and had been paid
for with gold. This new feeling, Gimli reflected, had none
of the brash self-satisfaction of his youth, and its cost--however
readily paid--had been much greater, its full price a long
mystery. Not long ago he had been satisfied with how he
had spent his life, deemed himself well-content and
well-acquitted. Now his heart ached for years lost and
wasted. Time, all measured time, felt chokingly short.
Gimli found the turn of his thoughts disturbing, and examined
his lover, wondering what things, sweet or bitter, might be
passing in his mind and heart.
The elf's fingers were still fixed loose in his beard, and
his face, serene and perfect, was resting with flushed cheeks
and near-closed eyes close to Gimli's. "Is all well
with you?" the dwarf asked softly.
Legolas drew a deep, slow breath, relishing the air, and
released it in a sigh. "Yes," whispered.
"I made you bleed," Gimli persisted. "I
"Small matter--a wound in the arse made by love heals
much faster than a wound in the heart from the same cause."
The long eyes opened languidly and a wry smile pulled at his
"There is no praise high enough!" Gimli exclaimed,
moved by the sweetness of that smile, the piercing beam of the
eyes. "Had you asked me before this night, I would
have said I had plumbed the depths and flown the heights of
pleasures of the body--now I am humbled by the extent of my
"You speak for me as well," Legolas stroked damp
hair from Gimli's brow. "I did not know if elf and dwarf
could join in that way: I feared our dissimilarities might
betray us, and leave each alone. . . And what then! But no: we
felt one another's pleasure, Gimli, and the sum was greater than
its parts. I wonder if it was not even greater for our
Gimli blinked at him, wide-eyed. "Will it happen
again? Each time we make love?"
Legolas shrugged diffidently. "I do not know.
We have entered a new land, Gimli, only little less strange for
me than for you, though perhaps not quite so far outside my
experience. I hope and believe that time will only
strengthen the bond, and our pleasure only grow as we become
more skilled and learn better of each other."
"How I hope you are right!" Gimli said fervently.
"Such joy may shorten my life, but it will make it
infinitely more worth living!"
Legolas winced slightly. "Your heart is as strong and as
jealous of life as any that has beat against mine--yet I could
wish you had not said that, even in jest. Fate lies oft in
Gimli shook his head, chuckling. "Tonight, indeed,
I feel more as if I shall live forever." He raised
himself to find what object was gouging him and extracted the
goblet from the chaos of bedclothes. He let it tumble out
of his hand onto the floor, not caring for its safety. It
did not break but rolled under the bed, where it was fated to
lie forgotten for a long time.
"Yet. . . Was that not what we felt?" Legolas was
murmuring. "A moment of mortal death--? To lose the
self and all the world truly and well. . . ?"
He trailed off dreamily, distracted, and Gimli stared at him
in alarm. "Who tempts fate now?" he demanded.
Legolas returned his gaze for a moment in silence. "Idle
words," he whispered.
Very different he looked, Gimli thought, and wondered why.
The elf lay lax, his long limbs spread at ease across the bed as
if there were no other state but nakedness, and his hair made a
black satin aureole around his flushed face, strands clinging to
brow and cheeks. His eyes, all pupil, also seemed black,
and there was a warmth in them that Gimli felt in his heart.
Yet there was also a subtle distress in his expression that
made him look vulnerable and, deceptively, very young: like a
youth who faces his first battle, or his first child; an
expression that seemed alien, to the dwarf's eyes, on the fair,
familiar features. Attuned perhaps to Gimli's thoughts
Legolas answered the unvoiced question. "There is no
word for what you are to me," he whispered. "We
are something entirely new. My heart is in disarray,
Gimli, and everything is changed--and I have no word for what
you are to me."
Gimli frowned, worried, for the elf's problem was one he
could only dimly fathom. "To speak of idle
words!" he answered in gentle exasperation, "I have
sometimes thought that elves set too great a store by words.
Deeds are of greater worth."
"But words *are* deeds, dear Gimli. An oath taken,
a lie told, a love declared, a hatred voiced--what deeds are
truly greater? And what deeds do not have their origin, or
their history at least, in words?"
Gimli leaned to kiss him, to taste again the sweetness and
softness of his perfect mouth. Legolas responded with an
echo of the recent passion, and many heartbeats passed before
they again separated. "I would have said that act had
no root in words," Gimli said, softly, an inch from his
lover's lips. "But you would argue, no doubt.
Listen--we will find the word, or make it up if we must, if it
is what you need."
Legolas smiled. His hand came up to caress Gimli's
cheek and trace the little lines it found there, and Gimli
blinked to feel the almost palpable intensity of the dark gaze,
as if he had for a moment stepped, welcome, into the profound
depths of his lover's heart and mind, and found there endless
lovely reflections of himself. An answering warmth rose up
in him that made him gasp through parted lips, as one startled.
"Yes, I will listen," Legolas whispered.
"And it will be to you. And we may find the word,
although perhaps I will find that I do not need it after
It was Gimli who wanted words, now. His heart was
suddenly full to bursting, the emotions new and
overwhelming--sweet yet hurtful, like a sad song. He began
to understand the elf's distress. "Legolas," he
said suddenly. "You wear no jewelry, not even a
ring. Have you no fondness for decoration at all?"
The elf gazed at him for a moment as if gauging his
motives and framing a reply. "Little enough," he
said. "I have not my father's love of jewels. Yet
also I have admired many beautiful things and works of craft.
Why do you ask?"
"Because I would see a strand of mithril gleam against
the shadow of your hair, and a ruby red as blood against your
white skin, here, or here." He touched Legolas' forehead
and the soft hollow at the base of his throat. "Or perhaps
a moonstone of the finest water, or deepest amethyst. I
wondered if you would wear any such thing."
The elf's comely face softened and brightened, as if he
heeded the emotion behind the words more than the words
themselves. "If it came from your hands, I would
treasure it, Gimli," he whispered, "and if it pleased
you, with pleasure I would wear it."
The dwarf smiled, relieved. "Fairly spoken, my
friend. But until I can deliver it to you I would leave
you an earnest of our espousal. Here." His hands were
out of sight for a moment, and then reappeared, holding the gold
ring set with stones that had lately inhabited his nether
portions. "I won't insist that you set it in back of your
balls, but on a chain near your heart might be nice."
Legolas laughed and took the dwarf in his arms, and Gimli
laughed with him, not loud but long, deep laughter close to
tears for a feeling that had no other means of expression.
At last they drew apart and lay, heads close together.
Legolas took the ring and slid it onto his thumb.
"Look," he said, displaying the fit. "As if it
were made for me." He admired it, smiling, as it
flashed red and blue-white in the candlelight. "A
keepsake indeed, my friend. How is it joined? You
"No, I neither sliced it in nor tore it out. Can
you not see the seam?"
The elf examined the ring closely in the flickering light.
"No," he said. "It looks to be all a solid
Gimli smiled sleepily in satisfaction. "I wish I
could tell Balin, who showed me the trick, that it deceives even
the eyes of elves. I am well content." He
yawned and closed his eyes. After a moment he felt
Legolas' hand light on his breast, caressing its hairs, fondling
the nipple-ring. He laid his own hand over it to hold it there,
and opened his eyes to find the elf studying him.
"Must you wander off and sing at the moon tonight?"
he asked. "Or will you sleep with me?"
"I will sleep," Legolas said. "I too am
weary, and I do not wish to leave you."
"Good." He nestled closer to the elf, who
cradled him, laying a long thigh that felt nearly weightless
across his groin, warm and smooth, its light-colored hair
glinting gold in the fluttering candlelight.
"Gimli, before you sleep," Legolas said after a
moment, rising again on one elbow, "I would ask you this:
did you--do you still--feel aught has changed?"
Gimli heard the tension in his voice and came more fully
awake. "Yes," he answered at once, but then took
a moment to consider how to answer. "Yes. I feel a
warmth in a place I did not know was cold, and there
is--something, something of you, it may be--filling a place I
did not know was empty. I did not know I was lonely,
Legolas, until I was lonely no longer. I feel I as if I
never shall be again."
"Yes," Legolas agreed, relieved. "That
is what I too feel. Yes."
Gimli watched his face in last light of the guttering candle.
As he spoke it hissed and went out, leaving the room filled with
moonlight, for the little lantern on the mantle of the fireplace
cast only a small circle. "So will you continue as you
have?" he asked after a pause, his voice a little gruff,
"Leaping like a dolphin from bed to bed, or loping from
bower to bower, or springing from tree to tree--whatever is your
Legolas looked at him for a moment; what his eyes could see
in the silver light Gimli could not tell. "Yes,"
he said at last, "unless it would make you unhappy."
Gimli felt suddenly foolish. "Ah," he said
dismissively. "I would not have you change long
habits for me."
"It is different amongst the dwarves, I take it?"
"Well, yes--when a couple are wed they forego the
intimate pleasure of all others..."
"And do you feel that we are wed?"
Gimli wondered if the elf could see him blushing.
"Well, yes, Legolas, I do. I thought--" he
broke off in confusion.
The elf heaved a great sigh and dropped again onto the bed.
"Ah, I am glad, Gimli--I am terribly glad. Ours is a
special case, and I think we must agree on how we shall treat
with others. I shall do whatever you request of me.
There is no need for such a prohibition amongst the elves, of
course, for such a bonding can truly only happen once, and we
have, as a rule, no need for jealousy."
"I did not say I was jealous," Gimli grunted, and
Legolas curled against him in a tight embrace. "And I
shall not be, if it be true that none other has the key to the
place which I have been first to enter."
"None ever shall," Legolas said, "unless it be
by force, and then it would be but a desecration of my corpse. I
would fly this house long before I would suffer such violation,
were there no other choice."
Gimli was startled out of his drowse. "That is an
evil thought, and a grim oath, if oath it was," he said,
shocked, "and should certainly never have been spoken by
one who believes fate is easily tempted!"
"I spoke no oath, nor do I foretell--it is merely a
truth you must know, if you would know the extent of my
commitment. It is no more or less than most of my race
would do." The elf spoke lightly, as if he had said
no very terrible thing. "But I shall happily swear
never to give you cause for jealousy, if those were your
terms--you shall keep the key. I love you, my mole."
"And I, you, my jeweled bird," Gimli answered.
With his head inclined against his lover's heart--it beat softly
now, at its ease, and very slowly--Gimli again drifted toward
"Now for a time we shall journey together," Legolas
murmured, and, on the threshold of sleep, the dwarf drew himself
back to listen. "And that must serve as our
honeymoon, for my heart fears that we are fated to spend much
time apart, and to see each other only now and again for many
busy years. Grief may weigh heavy on us, yet each will prove a
comfort to the other no matter how many miles lie between, for
each will know the other's heart, and he will never suffer
alone. We may journey together again someday. .
The elf paused. "After that I cannot see."
"Ah. More of that distinctively Elvish variety of
optimism and cheer," Gimli said. He raised the hand
he held to his lips and kissed it to draw the teeth of his
dismissive words. He felt too sated, himself, and too
weary, and too altogether comfortable, to worry about what, if
anything, the elf truly foresaw.
Legolas sighed, and was silent again for a long time.
Gimli was once more nearly asleep when he spoke for the last
time that night, now whispering.
"I will tell you, then, the hope I have. I do not
believe we have been brought together by random chance, and that
alone is a comfort. All the songs teach us that there is
no final parting for true lovers: in my heart I believe
that is our road. All we must do is remain upon it."
*All we must do.* The promise hung before Gimli like a
ripe fruit, complete and perfect it seemed and well within his
grasp, for a thing so far off. It would not always
seem so, for the road would be indeed both hard and
long--yet even at its darkest the promise never seemed entirely
to wither, or to die. "I swear it," he
whispered, and again, "I swear it."
Gimli woke with a shock in the slanting light of very early
morning. Legolas was kissing the nape of his neck, parting the
hair and stroking it aside in long motions that tickled across
Gimli's shoulders and onto his chest. For some minutes he
lay motionless to enjoy the sensation. When the elf
moved from kissing and stroking to kneading and rubbing with his
long sensitive fingers, finding and releasing places where
tension or soreness was stored in the massive muscles of Gimli's
arms and shoulders, the dwarf allowed himself appreciative
rumbles of approval.
When at last he turned his head to deliver some greeting, the
elf leaned over him and stopped Gimli's mouth with his own
before he had a chance to speak.
Had he waked alone and had time to dwell on his declarations
and decisions of the last night it might have been a very
different mood he came to; it was possible the elf had guessed
this and moved to be sure Gimli woke to the same love and
admiration he had encountered last night, so dark and somber
thoughts were banished before they began.
As he lay thus, half twisted across Legolas' breast, the elf
reached around his body and grasped his sex, and leisurely, with
great delicacy, and sensitivity, and skill, brought him slowly
to a long, exquisite plateau at the extremity of pleasure, where
Gimli squirmed and moaned and uttered what endearments and pleas
he could never remember, until, with deliberation, Legolas
tipped him abruptly and thunderously over the edge.
Again Gimli heard himself roar involuntarily, and even in the
blind moment of orgasm he was aware of the hot splash of semen
on his back as, once again, the elf shared the climax with him
in perfect unison.
When he was spent he lay quivering in the reverberations of
ecstasy--the crest of passion not so violent nor so intense as
that of the night before, yet still extreme in his experience;
but Legolas laughed and shoved him aside to spring out of the
Gimli, his head clearing, could hear him singing and
splashing in the dressing room. With an effort he rose to
seek the chamberpot, discovering as he did so that his penis was
still raw from its exertions of the last night, yet Legolas'
touch had been so adroit that he had felt no pain from his
manipulations. He wondered if the elf was also still sore.
He showed no sign of it, if he was.
His bladder relieved, Gimli climbed back into the bed and
snuggled again under the blankets, where he drowsed pleasantly
between sleeping and waking until the elf suddenly sprang onto
the mattress beside him. "Slug-a-bed!" he cried.
"I have done my best to wake you--what more does it take to
roust a dwarf from slumber? Cold water and a birch rod?
I will fetch them, if I must!"
Gimli opened an eye and examined Legolas' happy face as it
hovered above his own. Gimli was short of sleep and would
have gladly slept several hours more, but Legolas was clearly in
an extremely lighthearted, even giddy mood, and eager to be up
and doing. Between a desire to remain near him and a
fierce hunger Gimli resigned himself to wakefulness.
"You did your job only too well, " he said.
"I am faint with exertion and worn with starvation."
He hauled himself into a sitting position to gape and stretch
his arms, but Legolas unexpectedly seized his beard and jerked
him into an undignified kiss and embrace.
"Will our mornings together all follow this
pattern?" he asked sternly when he was released at length.
"What pattern could you prefer?" Legolas
cried, again whisking away to begin dressing.
Gimli watched regretfully as his legs disappeared into his
breeches. "Then I shall have to shave my beard to
deprive you of leverage," he growled with as much an air of
injured pride as he could invoke, and swung himself out of the
He marched toward the dressing room, looking round at the
last moment. To his concealed delight he caught Legolas watching
the movement of his well-rounded buttocks as he walked.
The elf met his eyes honestly, and a smoldering glance passed
Gimli sighed. He leaned against the door, hands on his
hips, and said dryly, "And we are to mingle with our
friends all day, I take it, and pay as little attention to one
another as if it were not the morning after our 'wedding
"I thought," the elf replied coolly, examining the
ring he still wore on his thumb, "that we might ride out of
the city a certain distance, in the afternoon."
Gimli lifted his brows. "Up for riding
already!" he said blandly. "But I have always
heard it said that Elves heal wondrous quick." He
caught a pillow in the face for that, and went to his ablutions
all the more pleased with himself.
"And what of the Fellowship?" Gimli asked a few
minutes later as, washed and brushed, he also began to gather
himself into his scattered clothing. "Shall we make an
announcement of our--betrothal?"
"To what end?" Legolas shrugged. He had
thrown the windows open and was seated on the sill, legs
dangling, bathed in warm sunlight and still-cool air, while he
gazed out over the city. "Will it change the world
for any but ourselves? And, besides, I doubt that it would
come as a surprise to any."
"Surely Gandalf, with his long sight, knew before even
Galadriel. . ." Gimli mused, "And Aragorn--"
"--Has certainly known since Helm's Deep, even if he was
blind before," the elf interposed without turning.
Gimli was nodding. "And the hobbits, Pippin and
Merry, know--for when you had the consolation of Galadriel and
the company of your kin, I was bewildered and alone, and turned
to them for comfort."
"Indeed? And did they ... comfort you?"
Legolas glanced toward him, and his eyes sparkled.
"For shame, Elf! They are--they are little
hobbits, scarce more than youths! And this was in
Legolas chortled, delighted. "I thought it a very
pretty picture, you and a brace of young hobbits among the
mallorn-trees. Alas! They comforted you only with
words, I take it."
"Yes, they did. More than you might think.
For they are of a short-lived kind, and their tradition says
that seed must not be wasted on pleasure, but must go to the
service of the race, to make more hobbits. And Pippin and
Merry are cousins, to compound the error. They too travel
a hard road."
Legolas shook his head. "I did not intend to
demean them. It is hard among all people to go against
custom, and difficult indeed when many children are called for
and there is no desire for them. It is a different matter
among the elves--it is your beard, and not your sex, that will
keep my kin from sharing my happiness in you--though if they
knew more of your talents, they might be more inclined to
jealousy." He winked at the dwarf, who smiled in
"Among dwarves," said Gimli rather proudly,
"it is accounted manly to gratify a mature woman and still
have the power to satisfy a young warrior--and the latter may be
deemed the more important, if the less difficult, for there are
more young warriors than women."
Legolas chuckled. "Potent indeed are the sons of
Durin. I have no doubt but that you measure up to the
test: you leave nothing wanting in a comparison to Shadowfax,
from the snorting and bugling to the masculine trappings, save a
longer neck and a silver tail."
"That leaves only Frodo and Sam," Gimli said.
"And they may truly be too caught up in themselves and
their adventures to have noticed us or ours."
At last the elf swung to face him fully, his eyes glittering
with repressed laughter. "But Gimli, my dear
stone-eared ass, that would only be true for Sam and Frodo--and
for the city of Minas Tirith down to the outermost walls--if you
had not bellowed like a balrog in your passion last night and
again this morning. I don't believe you yelled so loud in
battle; my ears are still ringing."
He laughed at last, merrily, and though Gimli felt the blood
in his cheeks the words did not sting much, for they were spoken
with pride. "And you mew like a seagull and warble like a
nightingale," the dwarf said softly. "I have
never heard such sounds made so lovely. Ah well--if our
love must be notorious throughout Middle Earth, so be it.
Let them talk!"
"Yes--today I feel as if I could face any scorn!"
Legolas rose. "Though in Minas Tirith we are likely
to face no worse than the elaborately-feigned ignorance of
friends. Bad enough at that! But it is far past time
to face it."
"And breakfast as well! But wait--"
Gimli's hands flew to his head. "I have faced many
perils with you, yet it would be too much to face Gandalf on
this morning with my hair down, like a courtesan too drunk to
order herself. Just a moment." He began to
weave the tresses into a braid, but to his surprise Legolas'
hands interrupted his own.
"You have combed it down the sides," he said.
"If you pull it back now it will look more disordered than
ever. Wait a moment." In a few seconds he had fetched
a comb, and with dampened hands bound the locks into a braid as
tight as rope, doubled it back on itself as the dwarf was wont
to wear it.
Gimli examined the elf's work with his fingers.
"Well done," he said with lifted brows, and could not
help adding, "You make a fine wife."
Legolas lifted one smooth brow in return. "When
the time comes," he said, beautiful head held high,
"you will find I also make a more-than-adequate
Gimli, caught--not for the last time--without an adequate
rejoinder, bowed low.
Legolas sardonically returned the bow, but then extended one
hand for a fervid clasp before he swept suddenly out of the door
and ran lightly down the stairs.
At the first landing he paused and looked back, but Gimli was
following stolidly at his own pace. Legolas waited until
he drew alongside, and they descended the rest of the way