8. Chapter Eight
And the day is important and demands of us
But the night is yours and mine and now
- Halvtan Sivertsen (a not that ancient Norwegian)
At love should no one
a beauteous countenance
oft captivates the wise,
which captivates not the foolish.
Gimli was not sure at first what awoke him. The night was quiet, and for a moment he wondered if he had slept at all. But Gandalf had changed position, leaning on his staff and staring into the east and not the west.
Aragorn slept a few metres away, nothing but a shadow against the darkness.
And Legolas... The elf was sleeping against Gimli's back, and the heat of the contact was what had woken the dwarf.
For a moment he just lay there, the warmth of the contact filling his body and he felt at peace. Gandalf was back, greater than before. Pippin and Merry were safe, or at least as safe as one could be in these troubled times.
His foolish choice to protect Legolas and follow the elf rather than going with the hobbits had not brought ruin on them all. They were heading for darkness, but Gandalf was their light now. Their path had a guide.
And his heart was no longer as heavy.
“He stands not alone. You would die before your stroke fell.”
Legolas's words, spoken so confidently and with a hard edge that had lifted the dwarf's heart even higher. The elf would have shot that arrow at Éomer for him, Gimli the son of Glóin, a mere dwarf.
“Legolas,” he whispered softly, unsure if the elf slept or not. The body next to him did not stir.
Gimli turned slightly, finding himself facing the elf. Bright eyes were looking at him, and yet not looking at him. Where did the elf wander in his mind? To a place of no pain, no grief, no darkness, an escape from where they were?
Legolas deserved a path of light and soft grass under his feet. Beauty, as the elf was beautiful.
Gimli closed his eyes again, his own mind wandering to the familiarity of the mountains, tall in the bright sunlight. How he missed their shadow, their tallness and promise of shelter. White-crowned, misty draped, hard-skinned mountains.
Real mountains, not the knives of dark rocks surrounding Mordor.
And to his astonishment he felt a hand steady his own trembling hand. It was withdrawn within a heartbeat, and he opened his eyes to meet Legolas's.
“Gimli,” Legolas whispered, sounding startled. His eyes shone in the dark, and for a moment the dwarf thought he saw a flame flicker.
The elf lifted a hand, stopping just an inch from Gimli's face.
“Legolas?” Gimli asked softly. For a moment it seemed the elf would reach out, but then the hand was withdrawn.
“Nay, Gimli. I cannot, I cannot...” Legolas began, shivering. Gimli's soft hand on his halted whatever words about to be spoken.
“There are times when even an Elf should know to be silent, my friend,” Gimli said quietly. His hand had already wandered to the elf's face, a thumb stroking along the chin.
Even the night seemed to hold its breath.
Gandalf was pacing nearby, eyes ever on the horizon. He seemed to shine like a star, white against dark.
“Friends offer friends comfort,” Gimli whispered. His hand wandered upwards, stroking high cheek bones and pointed ears. So different from his own. So unfamiliar. So delicate.
Legolas closed his eyes, lashes dark against his pale skin. Gimli let his hands now explore what his eyes had taken in so many times, the pale skin under his fingertips warm even in the coldness of the night.
Astonished at his own courage and that his friend did nothing to hinder it, Gimli brought his other hand to the silky, golden hair. It felt different from his own, a brook compared to a waterfall.
The ears were slim and long, as elves were; yet sharp as their senses were. Odd to behold for his kindred, but so fitting for the elves. The ears were not hard as he had imagined, but soft in his hand.
The chin was strong, more relaxed now and not set in determination. The face seemed gentler now that Gandalf had returned, as if a burden had been lifted from the elf's shoulders. Shoulders that should bear no burdens.
Ears that should hear no evil. Skin that should not be soaked in blood. And lips – lips that should be forever cherished.
Warm and full they were against his fingertips, hot breath stroking his skin. Would they taste the same a second time?
He leaned forward without thinking, and as if Legolas knew what was coming, the elf parted his lips slightly.
The first contact was brief, teasing, hardly a touch at all. Gimli dared not let the contact last longer, fearful the elf would reach for his knives and never again speak to him. But instead an arm went around his neck, pressing lips against lips with a sudden intensity.
It was a different kiss, harder, more urgent and desperate. Not a gentle gift to a friend, but the expression of need and wanting and perhaps even something Gimli refused himself to even think of.
He was not sure how long it lasted, only that it did not last long enough. Suddenly his arms were empty and Legolas had leapt to his feet. A heartbeat later Gandalf's voice sliced through the night.
“Awake! Rohan waits! We must ride, time moves against us.”
Gimli stumbled to his feet, cheeks blazing. What in the name of Durin had he been thinking? What had he done? Such a fragile friendship and he had disgraced it for a moment of dreams.
Legolas did not look at him. Perhaps – perhaps they would not speak of it and it would be as if it had never happened. For he could not bear to see the elf's fond gaze turn hostile. Not now. Not ever.
The pain of longing was nothing compared to the pain of loss.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.