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Axe and Bow

A Legolas and Gimli fan archive

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The Sea my Cuckold

by Honesty

Category: Angst/Romance
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JRR Tolkien. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Feedback: Yes
Summary: The Sea-longing leaves no room for any other loves.
A/N: Written after a *very* unpleasant weekend.

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in te Lost Isle calling,
In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!'

And so singing Legolas went away down the hill.

(JRR Tolkien, The Return of the King)


He strode away, light-hearted, carefree; and as the other members of the Fellowship prepared to seek their rest, perhaps their hearts were lifted by the sight of his joy.

Aye, perhaps.

There was a dull ache in Gimli's chest where his heart should have been, and it was all he could do to keep it from showing on his face.

[I have lost him already,>> he thought bitterly; [and we had hardly even begun.]

It had been the gulls - and he would hate the voices of those birds to his dying day - the gulls wheeling and circling far above them as they rode, and crying out eldritch words. He had felt Legolas tense against him, for but an instant; and Arod had checked slightly in his pace, and then continued, with not a word spoken or sign given.

He had barely looked at Gimli since that moment. He had not touched him at all.

And how he missed that touch! He had not thought it possible to be so dependent on any being's presence, but - but it hurt. Legolas was slipping away from him, and it hurt like knives.

He had come to it so late in life that his family had presumed he was destined never to love - yet another of the many Dwarrow-folk who would leave no kin behind them - and when it came it had been so beautiful, and so bewildering, and on occasions so terrifying, that he had been all but lost.

Dwarves love but once. He had never needed the touch of another before Legolas, and never would need the touch of any other but he. It was the way it was, among the Dwarves; but nobody had warned him it would be so strange.

It had started slowly, almost tentatively, with gentle caresses, and kisses that did not invade, growing bolder as they had journeyed on, and the full force of the Dwarven love-longing had gradually awoken in him. It had been strange, to find his body no longer quite under his command, as if it were his master, and his mind but an insignificant passenger, humoured when no distraction presented itself. But there had been little time, and no privacy, and in truth so far he had attempted only as much as he had dared.

They had snatched their moments when bathing, in the early mornings, being sure to wake before others and head first down to the water's edge. Now he could not help but associate the taste of Legolas's mouth with the sound of running water, from their first tentative explorations on the banks of Anduin, to their deeper, more desperate embraces by the Deeping-Stream, and later by other waters, further afield.

He missed it more than any being had the right to miss anything; and even with Legolas absent his traitor body still ached for him, in places where for fourteen decades of his life it had never troubled him.

They had promised each other.

When the time came - when they could - they would be together. They would love fully, not in snatched moments by the wayside, but take entire nights together, to learn each other fully. To bind themselves together so that they might never be unbound.

And then those hell-spawned gulls had crossed their path, and Legolas had heard their voices and looked only West. Gimli had said nought, and left him alone ... but keeping silence about the ache did nothing to assuage it. It was a rival - a rival he did not understand and could not fight.

He looked up suddenly, and found that, unbidden, his feet had taken him to the room he should have been sharing with Legolas. He went inside, shutting the door behind him. Legolas's pack lay abandoned in one corner, but no other sign of his presence had he left. Its contents had not been unpacked, and Gimli found himself doubting that they would be.

He sank down onto the low bed, and with slow, tired fingers reached for the lacings of his boots, working the tight knots awkwardly with his thick fingers.

It would be as well to sleep. He would have no companion this night.

* * *

He woke suddenly, at dawn, roused by some faint noise in the silence of his room, and found Legolas crouched by his pack, changing almost noiselessly into clean clothes.

He shifted and turned over, and Legolas stilled, his chest and arms bare, a clean shirt hanging untended over his pack.

"What is it, Elf?"

Legolas picked up the shirt once more, and slid it gracefully over his head. "Have you forgotten my name so quickly?"

"Have *you* forgotten our agreement so quickly?"

The Elf straightened up, as Gimli pulled himself upright in his bed. "I ... no. But things have changed."

"What has changed?" Have you now ceased to love me? he almost said, managing - just - to catch himself in time. Such words could only widen any rift, whatever its nature.

"Everything ... The sea is in my blood now, and it will never leave me. The things which bound me to Arda are now but distant shadows beside it - and though I may stay here many decades always my eyes will be drawn towards the West." He sighed, fixing his eyes on Gimli in the semi-darkness. "You are my strongest tie to this place, Gimli ... but the call is so strong. An I stay for an hundred years, my future does not lie here."

Gimli stared back at him for long, painful seconds. "So," he said unhappily, "you are no longer truly bound to Middle-earth, and since I am of Middle-earth, your ties to me also fade."

"I am sorry. But it would be grave dishonour to make love without love."

Gimli nodded, unspeaking. Dwarves never touched without love - not from principles or prudery, but because they were incapable of it. The love-longing was only for one alone; to join with another would be futile.

Legolas had asked him once, of the fate of those Dwarves whose hearts settled on one who would not have them. Did their grief destroy them, as it would the Elves?

No, he had said. We endure it. It is the way of our people, to endure, no matter what the hardship.

Then happy are you, friend Gimli, Legolas had said - you shall not have to endure such pain, as long as we are together.

"Yes," he said, somehow managing to find his voice. "I too am sorry." [This should be a time for great rejoicing,] he thought. [Alas for Glóin's son that it brings him bitter pain.]

He looked up at Legolas, and saw that his eyes were shining as if with tears. And then Legolas came to him, kneeling on the floor by the bed, and kissed him, very lightly, on the mouth.

Unbidden, Gimli's arms came up as if to hold him, and his mouth tried to deepen the kiss, but Legolas melted away from his touch like mist.

"I am sorry, dear one," he said again. "Perhaps in time it shall return to us." He turned and left then, disappearing from the room soundlessly, save for the soft *click* of the door's catch.

Gimli stared after him, at the shut door, cursing his body's ache that was demanding the Elf's touch, and demanding it *now*. How did others among the Dwarves endure *this*?

Perhaps in time it shall return to us - those had been Legolas's words.

"'Perhaps'," he muttered. "'I cannot live off 'perhaps'."


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