Where are you?
I am sitting on the Moon.
Where are you?
I am missing you.
- Enigma, 'Sitting on the Moon'
Please give me what I want
Tell me I'm the only one.
- Me'Shell Ndegéocello, 'Mary Magdalene'
"And as glorious as the sun may be... I am a creature of the evening and have fallen in love with the night and the glow of the moon," Gimli finished, his deep voice now holding a husky quality to it that sent a shiver dancing up Legolas' spine.
- Gecco, 'A Night's Musing'
Legolas did not know what woke him from his sound sleep. The room was quiet and dark, save for the moonlight cast boldly through the window. He rolled over languidly and noticed immediately that his lover was not in the bed with him. He sat up with small confusion and cast his eyes about the room until they settled upon the dwarf sitting in a large chair next to the window.
The dwarf appeared not to have heard him, his pensive expression now plain to the elf's keen sight, but he then roused slightly and offered Legolas a small smile. "Go back to sleep, my moon," he said softly. "I'm sorry to have awakened you."
Legolas didn't comment that his lover managed to slip out of bed and settle himself across the room without so much as a stir from the elf, a disconcerting yet increasingly frequent occurrence between the two. Legolas could only contribute this to the fact that Gimli was indeed a thorough and skilled lover, although he did not like to think on how he developed those skills. "You look troubled," he said finally as he slipped out of bed.
He padded over to the dwarf, unclothed, his dark mantle of hair flowing about him freely. He knelt fluidly before Gimli, folding his long legs neatly beneath him as he settled between his lover's impossibly strong legs. Gimli only wore loose cotton pants and Legolas couldn't help but admire the dwarf's brawn. He rested his hands gently on muscular thighs, stroking them briefly in comfort as he gazed upon his lover with concern. "Tell me."
Gimli continued to gaze out the window. "Our people will arrive here tomorrow evening to help restore the city," he said quietly.
Legolas couldn't help but smile and he laughed softly. "Do you think they will be pleased with how we managed to overcome our differences?" he asked teasingly. He leaned close and nipped his lover gently on the neck and began petting his beard, inviting the dwarf to turn his head towards him so as to continue with something more passionate. His pink lips lingered over the tanned skin and his green eyes were hooded with growing lust as he waited for Gimli to respond to him.
Gimli lowered his head and turned away slightly; a reaction Legolas did not expect and apprehension ricocheted within him.
"I think," Gimli began slowly, almost reluctantly, "we should stay in our separate rooms while they are here."
Legolas sat back abruptly, looking at his lover with a disbelieving expression. "I do not understand."
Gimli sighed, shaking his head a little. "What will your people think when they see their prince sharing his room and presumably his bed with a dwarf?"
"I care not what they think," Legolas quickly supplied and his eyes flashed with defiance.
Gimli gave a cynical snort and Legolas frowned.
"You are a hero of Middle Earth," he continued as justification, as though for the world, he could not understand how anyone could nor would question his lover's worth after all that he'd done.
"There are many heroes of Middle Earth. Do they all have access to your bed?"
The mocking words hurt more than they should and before Legolas could think, he struck Gimli hard in the chest, an elvish curse the equivalent of 'bastard' passing his lips. He made to rise but Gimli held him fast, gripping him by the arms. They struggled briefly before Legolas remained but his body trembled and he turned his head aside, not wanting Gimli to see his pain.
He realized, not for the first time, how truly vulnerable he was in all things concerning Gimli. He was naked, on his knees before his lover who held him fast with strong, powerful hands that could easily crush him if the desire was there. Distantly, Legolas mused on the symbolic meaning of the moment; his physical vulnerability merely mirrored the openness of his heart, that Gimli's words could wound him so.
Gimli's expression was a picture of sorrowful regret as he held his lover. He was careful not to hurt him, loosening his hold. "Forgive me," he pleaded with heartfelt sincerity. "I know not why I said that."
Legolas was ready to forgive him and did for reasons beyond believing his lover's sincerity. Even now, he was angry with himself for becoming so easily upset. When did Gimli's regard of him begin to matter so much? A second more persistent thought immediately followed; did he matter that much to Gimli? He returned his gaze to the dwarf whose head was lowered, his copper hair spilling across his face. "Do you think me so shallow as to be swayed by the thoughts of others?" he asked quietly.
Gimli sighed. "No," but he did not sound convinced in Legolas' mind.
"Then why play this game? I am happy with you. Why must we hide that?" They hid enough already, he thought. Not even their closest friends were aware of the nature of their relationship though Legolas felt that one had to be headless not to see the obvious affection between the two. There were no public displays of affection to speak of like kissing, hugging or even handholding (he couldn't imagine Gimli ever doing those things in front of others) but they were constantly together. Was that about to change as well?
Gimli sighed and looked at Legolas with that ancient quality that never failed to intimidate the elven prince. "We may have changed, Legolas, but that is an extraordinary thing." The dwarf gazed intently at his lover as he tried to explain. "Change comes slowly, especially for our people. They will not accept us. They may never accept us and to expect otherwise...would be folly. You cannot deny that this is true."
Legolas looked away again, unexplainable fear gripping his heart. He wanted to argue. He wanted to question why Gimli would doubt him when he has shown nothing but loyalty and devotion. Was his love not enough? Did his lover grow weary of him already and the arrival of their people was a mere convenient excuse to put distance between them? His friend's words rang with truth and Gimli's desire to hide their closeness was a reasonable one but for the first time since the beginning of the Quest, Legolas' mind burned with suspicion and hurt. "Very well," he said quietly, studying his lover intently; what he was looking for he could not say. "If you believe this is the best course of action, then I will respect your wishes."
Gimli smiled at him, unaware of his lover's inner turmoil, and gently cupped his face in his hands in an affectionate gesture. 'My night jewel," he whispered tenderly.
Legolas shivered at the tenderness and the thought that it could--by design or chance--end pierced his heart. It took every ounce of willpower to maintain what was left of his composure, to not fall into despair and misgiving. "It is late," his voice a faint whisper as he began to fall under the spell of Gimli's touch, "you should sleep while you may."
His lover leaned forward and gently nipped at his neck, the rasp of his beard making Legolas' breath hitch involuntarily at the sensation. "You're right," the dwarf breathed huskily, his hands starting to roam. "We should sleep while we may."
"Hmmm, sleep can wait a little while longer," the elf gasped in second thought and caught Gimli's mouth in a possessive kiss, having long since given up control. It was a matter of recourse for him. If this was to be the end, he wanted it to end as passionately as it began.
The days that followed proved to be agonizing for Legolas. He did not know how he had managed it but he smiled and laughed with his people and worked beside them in the gardens singing and listening to stories of home. He also told stories of the Quest, making sure to emphasize the heroic deeds of his dwarven friend among others. When his brethren laughed (some forcefully) and commented jokingly on his growing attachment to mortals, Legolas would dutifully laugh with them but his heart ached with misery and loneliness.
He saw Gimli sparingly during the day as the dwarves were given the task of rebuilding the ruined gates. His lover did not deny their close friendship, introducing Legolas as a fine warrior and most trusted comrade. If the dwarves had issue with Gimli's proclaimed friendship with the son of the king responsible for imprisoning dwarves they did not show it. Perhaps in secret they expressed their displeasure and Legolas was dying to know what Gimli might have said in his defense, if he said anything at all.
The months passed and he found he yearned for something more than an acknowledging nod, a hearty laugh and friendly clap on the shoulder. He wanted--no, needed--reassurances. He saw how some of the dwarves looked at his lover and how the tavern maids, once they completed their duties, would bring water to the dwarves, particularly Gimli who was ever polite and courteous and who they treated with a certain familiarity that disturbed him. He did not know he was prone to jealousy until those moments and it would burn in his heart, locked away, feeding his fears of inadequacy.
The nights were torture and eventually he began sneaking into the dwarf's rooms during the late hours no longer caring if they were caught. In Gimli's bed they would rut like guilty adulterers, leaving Legolas exhausted and heavy with disquiet.
"Are you ashamed of us?" he had asked, lying on his stomach with his head turned away.
Legolas could hear the shock in his lover's voice and immediately lost his nerve.
"Legolas, why would you say such a thing?"
The dark haired prince did not answer as he rolled over to look up at his lover who was sitting up against the headboard, a perplexed look on his face.
'Have you no idea what this does to me?'
"Who is the woman who constantly plays with your hair whenever she brings you water?"
Gimli blinked, clearly caught off guard by the change in subject before rolling his eyes at a recalled memory. "Tis only Rayne, a friendly but silly girl. She flirts with everyone," he added consciously.
Legolas knew he could trust his lover, he wanted to trust him, and he was beginning to hate the suspicious tone his voice was starting to take whenever he questioned Gimli and the disconcerting sense of insecurity that pushed these questions from him. Yet he stalled on the request that he wanted to ask most. "She need not play with your hair," he muttered darkly, turning away and leaving everything else unsaid.
Time passed slowly with little change in their routine and Legolas began to wonder often why he put up with it; creeping and fucking around like a catamite. Their once easy camaraderie passed over for hushed whispers and harried sex in the dark corners before returning to their everyday charade. Gimli had become quite adept at making the elf's toes curl with orgasm and filling his belly with fire all while efficiently muffling his cries with his free hand.
He could no longer tell if he loved him or hated him for it.
"We cannot hide forever, Gimli. They must know eventually."
"Now is not a good time."
"We must be reasonable. Our people...will be slow to understand."
"Heh, what happened to the infamous patience of the elves, hmm?"
"Don't change the subject."
"I will not continue this way."
"You ask too much of me. I--cannot--continue this way."
"What would you have us do? Shout it from the rooftops?"
"Yes, if it would get the wenches off your back!"
"Why are you being this way? You know where my heart lies."
"...Then tell me when."
"I...I will not have you persecuted because of me."
"Gimli...you should have thought of that before you started coming to my bed."
He would find that he would be grateful for Queen Arwen's company during this time; her easy acceptance; her tempered patience, her forgiving discretion.
"When did you know you were going to marry Aragorn?" Legolas asked Arwen as they walked amongst the Queen's new garden. The question was forward and without introduction. Anyone but Arwen would have been surprised by its abruptness.
The queen stopped and quirked an eyebrow in thought as she bent over to examine her jasmine, "Hmm, it is hard to say, honestly. I suppose there was not one single moment but the combined efforts of many."
That made sense to the Mirkwood prince for he had experienced many of those moments himself.
"Do you ever feel as though you have made a mistake?" He couldn't bring himself to look at her as he asked and his voice fell to a pained whisper. He felt as though he were admitting failure.
Arwen calmly turned her head and looked at Legolas, studying his profile intently as she weighed her words carefully. "Yes, quite often actually."
Legolas' eyes widened in surprise as he regarded the Queen in stunned silence. He was not prepared for her candor despite being the instigator of the conversation.
Arwen smiled patiently at him as she straightened. "But those moments do not come close to superseding the times when I do not. Aragorn is my chosen and I take this path willingly."
"Even though he is mortal?" Legolas challenged bitterly, his eyes narrowed as he stared off in the distance. "Even though he may grow weary of you and leave? Or wish to hide and pretend..." He stopped suddenly when he realized he was no longer speaking of Aragorn and a frown turned his mouth.
Arwen did not appear offended by Legolas' words nor did she appear to find them odd in context. After all, the Queen was admired for was her ability to hear beyond the words spoken and see beneath the image presented. "If you are looking for guarantees in this life, you will not find any, my dear Legolas. Even for us elves, life is not promised to us."
Legolas bowed his head, feeling quite chastened despite the kindness in Arwen's words. As an elf who had spent the majority of his existence fighting, he knew well the lack of guarantees in life and yet here he was--Valar, just this once. Just this once. I beg thee!--petulantly demanding them nonetheless.
"All we have is the time we have now and the choice to decide what we do with it--and who we spend it with be they mortal or no."
Legolas was unsatisfied yet resigned. "Is that all?"
Arwen smiled patiently once again as she resumed her walk. "You will find, my friend, that it is all you'll ever need."
It was a celebration to rival all celebrations.
Aragorn had insisted upon it once the restoration efforts were complete. The gardens were majestic and the gates were strong. The works of elves and dwarves alike inspired awe amongst Men and hope that the New Age would indeed be a prosperous one.
The effort also gave birth to a latent hope for improved relations amongst elves and dwarves. During their time together no one had come to blows and though there were some tense moments, they were easily forgiven and even now the two peoples made merry with a friendly familiarity.
Legolas and Gimli sat together as comrades do, quietly observing the celebrations but not taking an active part. Despite the raucous crowd and overall festive atmosphere, Legolas felt he and Gimli were in their own private world; hidden yet in plain view. Perhaps it was this thought--fueled by the heady wine he'd been drinking all night--that finally gave him courage to speak what was long on his mind.
"I need to know that you are mine."
"Careful," Gimli replied with a low rumble that made Legolas' think suddenly of their trysts in warm, humid darkness, "you're starting to sound like a dwarf."
"Would you prefer that I was one?" Legolas asked, staring down into his wine glass.
"I prefer you as you are, flighty and all."
Legolas looked at him then and studied his profile as his lover and friend observed the crowd with a casual air. He could have been commenting on the blasted weather for all that his tone gave away.
Gimli slowly pulled his attention away from the celebrations and looked at him with a contemplative seriousness. Legolas held his gaze and knew that he would bare his soul like he had not done before in his long life.
"I would choose you, Gimli, to spend my life--come what may," he spoke quietly.
All around them the celebration continued at a dizzying tempo: delighted laughter rang out, exotic smells and sights assaulted the senses and fired imaginations. But Legolas was aware of none of it, only the dwarf seated next to him who was the keeper of his fate.
Gimli bowed his head and the torch light reflected beautifully on the reds and browns of his beard. "I am not worthy of such an honor," he said humbly.
"Yet I choose you," Legolas pressed on and an unnamed tightness wound its way into his heart. It suddenly became difficult to breathe. "I need to know--if you feel the same way. I-If I'm..."
So intent on looking at Gimli's face, he was startled when he felt the large calloused hand gently grasp his own discreetly between their two bodies. The elf pursed his lips tightly in an effort to staunch the flow of emotions threatening to overwhelm him. He chose this: the secrecy, the subtly. It went against his nature but it would have to be enough.
"Do I feel the same way?" Gimli repeated thoughtfully as he stared down at their joined hands. "I have made my choice that night at Helm's Deep or have you forgotten."
...I am a creature of the evening...
Legolas gave a soft sigh and closed his eyes, the memories of that night foremost in his mind.
...and I have fallen in love with the night...
No, he most certainly did not forget.
...and the glow of the moon.
"But if I, by word or deed, made you doubt my devotion," Gimli's words gently cut through Legolas recollections bringing him back to the moment, "then I am a foolish dwarf indeed and I'm ten times more blessed that you would choose me regardless."
Legolas smiled and the tightness in his chest dissipated and he felt relieved. He decided that he would learn to enjoy this secrecy. Already he savored the heavy feel of Gimli's hand on top of his, hidden in the space between their bodies like a precious jewel. As long as there was no one else--and Valar help the fool who tries to stand between us--he could accept this.
"We are not children, Legolas," Gimli commented thoughtfully as though continuing a private thought. "And we are not shy to the ways of the world."
Ever so slowly he lifted their joined hands and Legolas' breath hitched, his whole world so focused on their hands that the celebration became a distant hum in the back of his mind.
"I am a dwarf of many journeys," Gimli said as he looked at Legolas over their joined hands, "and I would walk the remainder of my path with you by my side."
And with those words, Gimli leaned forward and tenderly kissed his lover's hand--before Man, Elf, Dwarf and Valar.
- The End -