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Axe and Bow

A Legolas and Gimli fan archive

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So Thrive My Soul

by Iocane and Rose

Warnings: Violence, Character Death
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.
Summary: Gimli and Legolas have vowed themselves to seek out and destroy each of the Nazgul one by one.
A/N: We took some creative license here. We are assuming that the Witch King was defeated but not neccessarily killed by Merry and Eowyn. Also, the after Sauron's defeat, the Nine Nazgul were weakened, but still around. Gimli and Legolas have vowed themselves to seek out and destroy each of the Nazgul one by one. A romatic/sexual relationship between Legolas and Gimli is strongly implied, though there is no sex in the story per se.

We join Legolas and Gimli on the trail of the last two Nazgul; Ultaire Ossea and the Witchking...

Finding Legolas already up, his back to the cold feeding them until a small fire burnt. "You may not notice the cold, but I do," he grumbled, though there was no harshness to his tone. They were now mere days from their goal -they hoped - and the end of this particular mission. If they killed this one - truly killed him - That would make eight nazgul destroyed, with only the Witchking left.

Legolas turned from his comtemplation of the lightening skies, blinking at Gimli is some distraction. "My apologies... I was lost in thought." he sighed. "Make yourself ready... he is not far... lying low in Bree."

Gimli nodded and once the fire was large enough to leave unattended, he went to stand beside the elf, one hand on his shoulder. "This will not be the last, but the end is now in sight."

Legolas shivered and nodded. "The last was the most difficult... a man-child... an infant by the standards of my people. It is my hope that Ulaire Ossea is not so clever as Ulaire Astea was."

"The eyes were telling, though. Even in that final instant - pure black, like obsideon." Gimli squeezed his shoulder again, trying to comfort his companion. "For me, the hardest was the woman. For my people, the slaying of a woman is ... unthinkable."

Legolas nodded. "It is as if... they can still communicate with each other... can tell each other that they are now the hunted. They are choosing victims that are hard for us to kill based on moral grounds."

"I belive they do know each others thoughs. They do, I'm certain, know each other's deaths. Each death weakens the others. Though the Witchking is still the strongest, I fear. Would that we had Lord Glorfindel at our side," Gimli sighed, thinking of how that elf had fallen in the battle at Helm's Deep, and he the only being that the Witchking feared apart from Sauron.

Legolas nodded. "We must be prepared for anything then... who knows what Ossea and the WitchKing have in store for us, those that hunt them." The Elf stood and looked up the skies. "Thus far, they have only taken victims of the race of Men... I dare not contemplate the consequences should they try to take a Dwarf or Elf... or Elbereth- forbid... a little Hobbit."

Gimli's lips twitched. "If they take a Hobbit, I will merely think of all the times I wanted to wring little Pippin's neck," his words were hard, but his voice both merry and melencholy, for he did dearly love the little folk.

Legolas smiled, laughing gently. "That will serve us both well... I will merely have to recal the time he decided to hide my quiver. I had to kiss him to get it back."

"T'was Merry who did that to me. He would hide my axes to get a kiss." Gimli chuckled, glad the darkness had begun to lift from his heart, if only slightly. "I'll make breakfast - I think the squirrels in the tree froze during the night, I'll shake a few down and thaw them out."

Legolas laughed merrily this time. "In this area of Middle Earth, the squirrels are more fur than meat... and you have enough of that, meleth-nin."

Gimli grumbled good naturedly and did indeed find a frozen squirrel from the tree. It was more fur than meat, as Legolas predicted, and Gimli was forced to dig into his stores of dried meat. "Once we get to Bree, I'm having myself a nice juicy steak with onions and mushrooms ..." As he cooked breakfast, Gimli detailed his ideal meal.

Legolas smiled and nodded. "I shall stick to my normal diet of... what is it you call it? Rabbit food?"

"Rabbit food indeed! And those pastries you eat would barely even feed a baby rabbit!" Their banter over food was old, but it never failed to raise Gimli's spirits.

"Lembas?" Legolas tilted his head. "As I recall, you had no complaint over the lembas supply the Elves in Lorien gifted us with. Or was that because the Lady was the Elf who ordered it?"

The visible part of Gimli's cheeks pinkened noticably at this and he grumbled wordlessly, returning his attention to his own breakfast.

"As I thought." Legolas winked before quoting. "Henceforth I shall call nothing fair unless it be her gift to me... is that not what you said?"

"It is," Gimli affirmed with a grumble, thinking of the three strands of Galadriels' hair still tucked away in his pack, stll awaiting their crystal setting.

Legolas snorted in a very unelven-like manner, feigning affront when he was truly only a little jealous. "And what does that make me? Plain?"

"You are beyond fair," Gimli said, his voice low and serious, his eyes intense as he gazed at Legolas.

Legolas raised his eyebrows in honest surprise. He had expected a gruff 'yes' from the Dwarf... in jest certainly, but an agreement nonetheless. "More fair than the Lady of Light?"

Gimli merely nodded, setting his plate aside in favor of his mug of tea.

Legolas blinked and rose to sit behind Gimli, wrapping both arms and legs around his lover. "My sweet Dwarf... you do me too much honor by calling me thus. I am only a wood Elf... and a rather average- looking one at that."

Gimli leaned back. "You are fair enough to my eyes," he said softly.

Legolas smiled, his cheeks pinkening in the dawn sunlight. "As you are to mine. Come, beloved... if we are to make Bree by nightfall, we must depart now and move swiftly."

Gimli nodded. "Go put those eyes of yours to use and check the road, I'll pack up and meet you on the way." This was how they always did things, but Gimli liked the last few words spoke in softness before the start of a grueling day.

Legolas pressed a tender kiss to Gimli's cheeks before doing as he was bade, pulling his quiver onto his back before taking over, his breath fogging in the chilly morning air. "All is clear, beloved." he said softly when Gimli reached his side.

Giml nodded and began loading his pipe, having long ago perfected the art of loading, lighting and smoking it while on the road, even at a fair clip.

Legolas, as was his habit, walked beside Gimli, neither leading nor following the Dwarf. They both knew where they were going and in the clear light of mid-winter sun, there was no need for the Elf's tracking abilities. Twilight was just starting to glimmer with newborn stars when Bree came into view. Legolas swallowed, his senses already tightly coiled. "He's here... I smell death..." he said softly, pulling at his bow restlessly.

Gimli nodded, and they saw a form shuffling on the side of the road, moving slowly as if hurt, covered in a torn cloak. He glanced at Legolas, a silent question flashing in his eyes, asking if they offer aid, almost certain the answer would be yes.

Legolas looked at the figure, eyes and ears alert, twitching his head slightly as though he were a predator gathering scent from the air. Blue eyes narrowed, he approached slowly, more cautiously than he might if he were certain the form was human. "Hail, friend... are you hurt?" he asked in the Common Tongue.

"Yes," came a soft, femininne voice from the robes. She sounded young, too young. "I was taken by bandits as I left the city for home, they left me here once they had what they wished of me," she began to sound terrified and shuffled back as they approached.

"Calm down, child," Gimli tried to comfort her. Realizing she had likely been raped, he shut up and looked to Legolas to speak, knowing his voice was more soothing and less ... male.

Legolas swallowed and stepped forward, kneeling before her as if to assure her that he meant no harm. "Easy, child... we mean you no harm. Do you live in Bree? Can we help you to some home?"

The hood of her cloak fell over her eyes, and she held her hands to her stomach, her body pulled in tight around her, shivering in the bitter cold. "I life in a farm some distance away, I came to sell my father's game on the market. I was set upon not far from here, I don't know how many there were ... they took all my money ... a pendant from my mother and ... and ..." she began sobing, adding to the tear streaks already clearing the grime from her face. She held tight to Legolas, sobbing and shivering. Gimli moved about, trying to find some sign of the bandts and where they might have gone.

"Hush, little one." Legolas cooed at her, stroking her back, though he winced at how cold her skin was. "They have gone... and they can not hurt you any further. Come, to the Prancing Pony... Barliman is a friend, he can help you."

"No! I ... I can't go back there!" She pressed her face to Legolas' shoulder. "Please, take me to my father ... His farm is this way," she lifted a crushed hand to point to the north.

With a quick glance up to Gimli, Legolas carefully hoisted the girl into his arms, cradleing her agianst his chest. "Rest easy, little one... we will get you home. Gimli, come! We must get her to her farm... to her family."

Gimli nodded, following quickly. In the distance, a male voice could be heard calling a name and the girl shifted when she heard it. They approached and saw a man outside a small house, calling for "Kara!"

Legolas quickened his pace, though he faltered when he saw the horses in the corral. They were jumping and bucking, kicking at the walls of their pen... very upset and agitated by the appearance of both man and wounded girl.

Gimli eyed the beasts, then the sky, thinking they perhaps heralded some ill weather. The man rushed towards them, his arms out. "Kara! Is she alright? I was about to go looking for her, she was supposed to be back hours ago."

"She has... met with some rather ill fate, I am afraid." Legolas said softly, kneeling back to the ground and pushing the girl's hood back. Her eyes were swollen shut apparently and Legolas frowned. Something was not right here.

"Kara!" The man knelt, bundling her into his arms, holding her face agaist his chest. "Thank you, gentlemen! We haven't much, but I would like to thank you for helping my girl," he carried Kara inside and laid her on the bed. He took a cloth, soaked it in a bowl of warm water beside the fire and laid it over her eyes. He stood and bent over the fire. "Thank you again, gentlemen, for returnig my Kala to me."

Legolas nodded, watching the father cloesly. "What was she doing out anyway? Midwinter is hardly a time for slaughtering livestock..." he asked, crossing his arms over his chest, ears twitching restlessly.

"Ah ... we happened upon a nest of foxes whose coats had turned - I had hoped they would fetch a good price for their color." He kept his face from them, fussing over the soup.

Legolas was about to accept that reason when recalled the Hobbits delight over seeing a fox once, as they had never seen one. "There... are no foxes in this part of the world..." he said slowly, fingers twitching for his white knives.

"And what is your daughter's name again?" Gimli asked slowly, firming his grip on his axe, shifting so he was squarely between the man and the door.

"I ... perhaps they were not foxes, I'm not as versed in the animals of the region - that was my beloved wife, now departed." The man was now poking at the fire with an iron poker.

"Turnabout, sir... a host would show his guests the color of his eyes." Legolas ordered in a voice befitting his status as a son of Thranduil.

The man did indeed turn, lunging at Legolas with a yell, waving the redhot poker at him, grazing his arm. Gimli swong his axe carefully at the man's leg - It would do no good to kill him and lose their quarry.

Legolas cried out at the feel of burning metal grazing his skin, setting the flesh to blister and burn, but he swung out with his knives, catching the poker and twisting it away from the man's grasp. The sudden red light shone on the man's face, revealing eyes black as Moria's depths.

Once the man was down, Gimli pounced, dropping his axe and grabbing the man's hands. When he was immobilized, he shouted to Legolas. "Can you do it?!" The ritual that would obliterate the Nazgul's soul was in Quenyan which Legolas had mastered, so Gimli far preferred the elf to do it.

Legolas nodded, quickly straddling the man's legs and holding them still so he could not kick. Leaning down, he pressed his forehead to the man's, forcing himself to stare into those inky eyes. Slowly he chanted the ritual, keeping the Nazgul's gaze, holding him hypnotized like a snake.

The man struggled violently, trying to close his eyes, but could not in the face of Legolas' gaze. He let out a strangled gasp and is eyes flashed, then turned to a watery blue - dead.

Legolas let out a harsh breath, his body sagging with sudden exhaustion, as the ritual always did to him, leaving him drained and vulnerable.

Dropping the man, Gimli puished him aside and crawled over to Legolas, pulling the elf into his arms, comforting him. "He's gone - destroyed now. You have done well, beloved."

Legolas shivered, feeling cold. "You dispose of his victim... I will see to the girl."

Gimli nodded, planting a quick kiss to Legolas' forehead and standing. Taking hold of the man's feet, he dragged him outside, where the horses were noticably calmer. Seeing a stone some ways off, Gimli discovered it was a grave marker, and began to dig beside it.

The girl's body lay still on the bed, her skin ice cold. She didn't respond to Legolas, and when the cloth was lifted from her eyes, they too were a dead watery blue. Legolas sighed, muttering an Elven prayer under his breath. His heart heavy with this unexpected price, he leaned forward, pressing his forehead to the girl's. Suddenly an icy chill seized him by the soul, sending the Elf over backwards, landing on the wooden floor with a painful thud.

It was well into night when Gimli returned from his gristly task. He dashed in when he saw Legolas still sprawled on the floor. "Legolas!" he shook the elf. "Wake up!"

Legolas did not respond at first and it took several more shakes before he opened his eyes, trembling violently and clutching at the Dwarf as though he were a rock in a stormy sea.

Gimli cluthed his lover tight, rocking him gently and murmuring in Dwarvish. Legolas hadn't been this stronglty hit by the ritual in some time and Gimli was shaken to his core. It didn't help that when he first looked at the elf, the eyes looked black. Gimli blinked and they were their usual blue and he calmed, though only slightly.

"Wh-what happened?" Legolas asked in a small, weak voice, still shivering harshly, burrowing into the Dwarf as if he could find warmth there.

"I don't know, meleth-nin." I was burying the man, and when I came back, you were on the floor, out cold. I see the girl is dead. I didn't think she was that injured, but I know little of humans, and she may have had wounds we didn't see."

Legolas nodded. "Cold... so cold..." he commented in the same, weak voice. "Gimli..."

Gimli nodded, stroking Legolas' face and arms.. His finger brushed bare skin and he remembered the burn the Elf had suffered. Pulling the sleeve to cover it as best he could, he held Legolas tight, trying to make him as comfortable as possible.

Legolas burrowed into Gimli, sighing and whimpering softly, hands buried in the Dwarf's beard. "The girl... we have the bury the girl..." he said.

"Shhhh. I"ll do that," Gimli continued rocking Legolas. "When you're sleeping, I'll bury her beside her parents."

Legolas nodded. "Help me... to somewhere I can sleep, love? I do not think... that I can stand..." he asked in a small voice, biting his lip.

"I'll move the girl, first." Setting Legolas gently on the floor, Gimli lifted the girl's body onto the table, laying a small towel over her face and folding her hands on her stomach. She may had been a vessel for evil, but she had been an innocent in life and desrved the respect of one. After fussing with the bed for a moment, Gimli carefully lifted Legolas into it, covering him with every available blanket and cloak.

Legolas shivered, looking at Gimli with eyes nearly closed with weariness. He took the Dwarf's thick hand, squeezing it gently. "Be quick, my love... I need you this night."

Gimli continued fussing over Legolas, tucking the covers in, making sure the elf was as comfortable as he could be made. He toyed with the idea of setting her up a pyre, which would be quicker than trying to bury her in the ever hardening ground. Unfortunately, he knew well that Men of this region of the world favored burial, as evidenced by the existing grave. "Will you be able to rest a while while I do this?"

Legolas nodded, closing his eyes. "Yes... see to the child... I will wait for you... try to sleep."

Gimli nodded and leaned over, kissing Legolas' cold forehead before turning his mind to the task of burying the girl-child.

Legolas shivered, huddling under the covers, starting to sing to himself when it became plain to him that rest would not be easy- coming.

It was some hours later when Gimli shoveled the last bit of dirt back onto the second grave he'd dug that day. The air seemed to be a steely blue and Gimli realized it was the cold light of predawn. Setting the spade against the cabin, he stepped inside, making his way quickly to the bed. He set himself carefully in the rickity chair at its side, grateful that it didn't collapse. "Legolas?" he asked softly, uncertain if his lover was sleeping or not.

"Gimli..." Legolas said in a breathy voice, eyes fluttering as he stirred from his feather-light sleep.

The shadow tricked Gimli's eyes and his heart stilled when he thought Legolas' eyes flashed back. The Elf blinked and Gimli saw they were their usual blue, if a bit dim with his weakness. "I'm here," he stroked Legolas' hair, heedless of the dirt on his hands.

Legolas sighed and leaned into the touch, seeking contact as though it were the only thing to balm his soul. "Join me? Take me in your arms?" he requested in a young voice.

"There would be more dirt in the bed than flesh," Gimli groused even as he began to strip off the heaviest and dirtiest of his garments. "The fire..." he said, moving over to add fuel to it befor climbing under the covers, reaching for Legolas and pulling him close.

The Elf's skin was still cool and chilled and he pressed close to his lover. Not a strange occurence at any rate... but there was no passion in Legolas' embrace, only the desperate clutching of one lost beyond finding.

Gimli held Legolas tight, as one holds a child thought lost and now found. He murmured in Dwarvish, trying somehow to comfort his beloved.

Legolas' eyes focused and unfocused, drifting somewhere between sleep and weary wakefulness, though never far into either. He mumbled softly in Sindarin and Quenya... and some other tongue that sounded diconcertingly like Black Speech, though it was not clear enough to tell.

Gimli struggled to keep his breathing even, and to keep from crushing Legolas to his chest. He thought Legolas must be reliving some of his past, mimicking the speech, including the Black Speech they'd heard Orcs growl more than once.

"Tighter..." Legolas pleaded softly, pulling himself against Gimli with a soft cry. "So cold..."

Gimli oblidged, pulling Legolas closer and tightening his arms like iron bands around the Elf's back. "I'm here, meleth-nin." he whispered.

"Promise me... you'll stay..." Legolas asked, his shivering ceasing once he was held, his fair voice muffled by both fatigue and Gimli's beard.

"Of course I will," Gimli vowed, tighteniung his arms slightly. "You're my heart - I could no more leave you than I could leave myself."

Legolas smiled briefly, finally finding some small vestige of rest in Gimli's arms, drifting off slowly... though his eyes were closed for perhaps the first time in the Dwarf's aquaintance with him.

Seeing the Elf's eyes close, Gimli shifted so Legoas' heart was pressed to his, as it was the only way he could tell the Elf was alive. Finding no rest,he lay still, only holding Legolas as the light through the window brightened with the rising sun.

Only a few hours later, the Elf stirred restlessly, stronger, but still pale and trembling. "We should leave this place..." he said softly. "See if these two had any kin in Bree... then begin our hunt anew."

"Are you certain?" Gimli stroked Legolas' back, thankful to find it slightly warmer now. "If you're not up to moving, you should remain still."

"I cannot rest anyway... if I am to be sleepless, then we might as well make some progress. We are close now, my love... only one left." Legolas insisted, his voice slightly lower than usual, his face still buried in Gimli's beard.

Gimli nodded. "And he the strongest. With you at the weakest I've ever seen." Reluctantly, Gimli began to rise from the bed, sorting out their cloaks and blankets from those that came with the bed.

Legolas shivered when he sat up, eyes covered by lowered eyelids and light lashes. "No matter... we must begin tracking him." he said, taking his cloak from Gimli and whirling it about his shoulders with a tad more flourish than usual.

Taking the added flourish to mean that his Elf was better in spirit if not in body, Gimli cracked the faintest of smiles. "We can walk to Bree shortly, Barliman knows everyone there -he'll know who these good souls were." Pullig his grimy clothes back on, Gimli began straightening the house, making the bed and banking the fire so it wouldn't burn the place down. "I don't know what to do about the horses."

Legolas smiled, though with hooded eyes it was impossible to tell what sort of smile it was. "I can see to the horses... you can go ahead and I will meet you there."

Gimli's exhaustion let him agree, though he wanted to ask what Legolas planned. "I'll wait, then, in case you can't catch up as easily as you normally do."

Legolas shook his fair head. "No... it is cold outside and you would do well to get to the inn as soon as possible. I can travel the one mile to the inn by myself."

Looking up at Legoas, Gimli nodded. Gimli had forgotten how tall the elf was, as he rarely stood his full height. "You seem to be fairing quite well, actually." He rested a hand on Legolas' chest. "Hurry then, I don't want to be long without your company."

Legolas nodded, almost curtly, waiting for Gimli to leave. Once the Dwarf was gone and safely out of sight and earshot, the Elf grinned coldly, fetching the white knives from his pack. "I know just what to do about the horses..." he said in a gutteral tongue that bore no resemblance to any form of Elvish.

Shortly after he set out, Gimli heard a shrieking noise that reminded him of when horses had been wounded in battle. Dismissing it as the wind, he continued on, soon making it to Bree and secuding them a large room. Recognizing him, Barliman refused payment and asked after Legolas. Gimli told the innkeeper that they had found a farmhouse some ways off, father and daughter slain. Legolas was seeing to the horses, and did Barliman know any who might be kin to the family that had lived there?

Barliman, in his usual disjointed fashion, thought about it, but shook his head. As far as he knew, the pair were all that had been left of the family, though he would find out what was to be done with the property.

The last horse shied and bucked, the smell of death terrifying the black steed. Even with the guise of an Elf before his fear-whitened eyes, the horse knew evil when he smelled it. Growling, the Elf leapt atride the animal, kicking it into a gallop harshly.

Settling himself at a table near the entrane of the Prancing Pony, Gimli glanced about, seeing a few faces he knew from the War, but no one he was especially interested in talking to. He did ask a few people if they knew of the family in the homestead, but no one really knew them, or had much to say, except one rather uncomplimentary comment about what the daughter should sell for a living.

The Elf rode the stallion hard, using the animal's fear to his advantage. Even after he had come to the inn and tied the horse's reins down, it still bucked and kicked at him, trying to get away.

"Looks like you've got a stolen horse there, lady," A rough voice growled from the darkness, accompanied by several snickers.

"Might wanna take that beast back to its owner, Weasel." A small man who resembled his name approached the horse with a rather nasty grin, and three other men, much larger, came out of the darkness around Legolas, trapping any escape.

Legolas stooped his posture slightly, adopting one more akin to a cat about to pounce. "No lady am I... and you would do well to leave me be. Or I will be forced to hurt you."

"Fine, boy," the man sneered. "But keep your threats to yourself - That horse doesn't belong to you. I know the man that owns it and he'd never part with it for any reason." The weasel had grabbed the horse's reigns and the other men were slowly closing in on Legolas.

Legolas shrugged, pushing back his hood to reveal night-black eyes. "Have it your way." Striking out like a poisonous snake, the smallest man with the reigns was quickly cut down by white-handles knives he never even saw coming. The Elf hissed something in the Black Speech, clearly egging the remaining men on.

The two men in Legolas' line of sight hesitated but the one behind did not, rushing towards him with a yell, stabbing at his shoulder.

Legolas dodged easily, grabbing the man. Instead of using his weapons however, the Elf caught the gazes of the two other men and promptly twisted his victim's head, snapping his neck like kindling.

Seeing this, the two men remaining dropped their weapons and fled, one of them muttering "Keep the damn horse!" as he ran for his life.

Smiling with evil glee, the Elf let the dead man drop unceremoniously to the ground. As he was about to head to the inn, pain seared through him and he growled to no one in the Black Speech, falling to his knees as a war went on within.

Stepping outside to dump a pitcher of ale one of the men had vomited in, one of the wenches of the Pony spied Legolas on the street. Seeing a flash of golden hair, and knowing Gimli was inside, she approached the figure slowly. "Mister Legolas?" she asked hesitently.

Shaking with effort, Legolas raised on hand to wave her off. "Get... Gimli..." he gritted out through his teeth in a pain-filled voice.

Dropping the pitcher, leaving it to shatter, the girl dashed inside and all but dragged Gimli outside. Seeing the figure, Gimli spied a tuft of golden hair and rushed to Legolas' side. "Legolas?" his voice cracked. "What happened?" Barely giving Legolas time to answer, Gimli carefully got him to his feet.

"Just... get me inside..." Legolas said shakily, his knees crumpling under him as he let the Dwarf practically carry him.

Refusing to let anyone else help, Gimli carried Legoals to their rooms, practically hoisting the Elf onto his shoulder. Setting him as carefully as he could on the bed, Gimli covered him with blankets and told the girl to bring more, tossing her a gold coin.

Legolas panted, shivering and sweating at the same time, pulling the covers around his shoulders.

When the girl returned with blankes, Gimli took them and sent her out, telling Barliman they were not to be disturbed. Moving back to the bed, Gimli draped the blankets over Legolas, tucking them around, up under his chin. "What happened?" he asked again when it seemed there was nothing else he could do.

"I... do not even remember waking this morn... or coming here." he shivered. "I was in my body... but not in control of it... like a passenger. I could see and feel... but not control. The horses... were terrfied... blood everywhere..." he whispered brokenly, starting to cry like a lost child.

Gimli let the Elf talk, trying to take in what he was saying and comfort him at the same time. Sitting on the side of the bed, Gimli tugged the bundle of blankets until Legola's head was on his lap, then he hugged the elf to his chest, rocking slowly.

"The stallion... the black one that bore me here... they thought he was stolen.." Legolas sobbed. "I killed them! I snapped one's neck with my hands!"

"Who, Legolas?" Gimli asked, still rocking the elf. "Who thought what horse was stolen? Why do you think you killed them? What about the horses?" Gimli realized he was interrogating the Elf and stopped. "I'm sorry, Legolas. I don't mean to ask so many qyestions, but I don't know what happened."

Legolas took a few deep breaths. "The horses at the farm... I slaughtered them... all but one... a black stallion. I rode the stallion here, though he was terrfied of me. Some vagabonds cornered me outside, knowing the horse did not belong to me. They attacked me and I fought back. I sliced the throat of one... but the other who rushed at me... I broke his neck... with my bare hands."

"You could not!" Gimli tighened his arms, wondering desperately what madness had possessed his companion. "You would never do that! It must have been ... something else ... You are still weak, perhaps it was just a dream, and you don't rememeber walking here. You would never kill if you could get out without it. You were dreaming." Gimli's voice took on an edge of desperateion as he spoke.

Legolas stilled. "The blood on my hands does not lie..." he said softly, tears in his voice as he held out one blood-stained hand.

Gimli's breath caught when he saw the red stains. "Your wound ... it might have opened, bled ..." Gimli gently felt for Legolas' arms, his blood going cold when he saw that the wound was well on its way to healing, and the sleeve was bloodless between Legolas' elbow and his wrist. "There must be some reason ... You would never do those things. Never."

"No... it was not me." Legolas said softly, eyes going clear. "It was my body, my action... but not my will..." he rose, walking towards a low dressing table, a mirror attached to its back. Eyes wide and fascinated he stared into it, the pupils slowly widening.

Gimli stood and followed the Elf, looking at his eyes. "Legolas," his voice was quiet, as if forced across a great distance. "What do you see?"

The pupils widened further, eclipsing all of the blue from the Elf's eyes, until nothing was left but inky blackness. "Agh burzum-ishi krimpatul..." he hissed in a low voice; Legolas' voice but not his words.

Gimli's axe clattered to the floor as he recognized the speech, and the blackness of Legolas' eyes. "Nooo!" His heart raced though his blood seeemed to freeze. "Legolas!" He shouded as if he could call his love back.

The Elf grinned, a maniacal, evil grin that held no warmth whatsoever. He turned towards the Dwarf, advancing slowly, drawing a knife with his bloodstained hand.

Gimli backed away, fimbling for one of the axes in his belt. "Legolas," he pleaded, hefting his axe. "I know you're in there," he hoped the elf would be strong egnough to fight the posession, and sent a prayer to Aule that Gimli's voice would help him find his way back in control of his body.

"A puny little princeling against the WitchKing? He will not defeat me..." his retort was cut off by a groan, stumbling back a pace or two, eyes flickering between black and blue.

"It would seem he is!" Gimli roared. "He is no mere princling! He is one of the Nine! His forefathers stood and fought an even greater force than you can imagine. He himself stood against the forces of your dead master and slaughtered countless thousands of Orcs. You are weak!"

Legolas fell to his knees, face contorted with pain or rage or both. "Gimli!" he cried out in supplication, tears falling from his eyes as he struggled and fought mightily.

Gimli too fell to his knees, wrapping his arms around Legolas, tapping his arms and locking eyes with he Elf. "Legolas!" he shouted, willing the blue to win over black.

Finally, Legolas' eyes cleared and he fell forward against the Dwarf in a heap, sobbing brokenly, clinging to the Dwarf for dear life. "Gimli... it's him... the Witch King of Angmar... he's taken me!"

Clutching Legolas, Gimli slid so he was sitting on the floor, pulling the Elf into his arms. He knew that if the Witchking took over while they were like this, he was as good as dead. Gimli desperately hoped Legolas was in control solidly for now. "Oh Legolas," he sobbed, rocking.

"Gimli..." Legolas whimpered, trembling like a leaf in a high breeze. "I can feel him now... twisting in me, chilling me from within... dimming my eyes..."

"Don't let him!" GImli held Legolas' face in his hands, locking their eyes. "Look at me! Don't let him take over!"

Legolas' eyes flickered again, warring between black abyss and summer sky. "He is strong, Gimli... so strong..." he whimpered. "Elbereth, please, please... please help me... Elbereth Gilthoniel..." he prayed fervently, desperately.

Gimli pressed his forehead to Legolas' and prayed to Aule for aid, never letting his eyes leave Legoalas' "Together we are stronger!"

"He will not fight us together..." Legolas managed once his eyes were fully blue again, though filled with tears of exhaustion. "He will take me... and kill you while my spirit is helpless..."

"I'll not let him ... He is still limited by your body, is he not?" Gimli's stomach churned with what he was suggesting, but he knew it was the only way.

"He is... he cannot do what I physically cannot do." Legolas nodded, shivering violently again with chill. "Oh, so cold..." he moaned in dismay.

"So if you were bound, he would be helpless?" Gimli forced himself not to retch at the thought of binding Legolas. His arms were not still, stroking and comforting Legolas. Rising, he carried him to the bed and covered him with blankets.

"If bound properly... yes." Legolas nodded, eyes widening at the idea, biting his lip. "But he seems to know the specialties of an Elven body... and we are not easy to hold captive..."

"But it can be done. We might need chain, for you can break rope easily." Even as he spoke, Gimli was tucking the blankets around Legolas, somewhat confining his body. If the WitchKing came to the fore, it might buy him a few seconds at least.

"And... you would have to bind my hands above my head... so I cannot slip out by dislocating my shoulder. My ankles would have to be bound as well." Legolas said softly, trying to be helpful though he trembled at the thought of being held in such a way.

Gimli nodded, tears sliding down his cheeks. "Anything else?" the tears were evident in his voice. Though disgusted, Gimli had already begun a mental inventory of anything he had that was strong enough to bind Legolas.

Legolas shook his head, then paused. "My weapons... you must... keep them away from me..."

Nodding, Gimli eyed their packs, remembering some bits of chain he had, to work during idle moments. Together it might be long enough to bind his hands at least. Still holding Legolas, he was reluctant to rise from the bed.

Legolas closed his eyes, searching his soul. "Go... do it... while he is at rest and will not try to fight you. It will be much easier to bind me now, when I am pliant to you."

Gimli rose, then bent to plant a comforting kiss on Legolas' lips before moving to the packs. Removing the chains, he eyed Legolas' bow and quiver. They would have to be taken from the room, but there was no one in Bree he trusted to keep them safe.

Legolas lay still, fighting the urge to flee from the room... anything rather than be bound like an animal. But he stayed, thinking instead of how they were to defeat a foe with the perfect hiding place.

Gimli took the chain in his trembling hands, along with a few loose links and the tools to lock them. Tears flowed freely down his weathered cheeks, wetting his graying beard as he reached into the covers, taking Legolas' hand in his. Bringing the palm to his lips, he kissed it as if in apology, then chained the Elf's hands to the iron bar above the bed.

Legolas bit his bottom lip until he tasted blood to keep from struggling, a tear at the corner of his one eye. "Please... do not weep, Gimli... my heart is already weak with sorrow..."

Snifffling, Gimli wiped at the tears, forcing himself to stop. He could not keep them from his voice as he touched the elf's cheek. "Legolas ... I can hardly bear this."

Legolas smiled wanly. "You are a Dwarf, my love... a Dwarf goes on even if the burden be ten times his own weight. Is that not what you always say?"

"Aye ... It is," Gimli continued stroking his cheek. Gimli wanted to say that the burdon was greater than even he could bear,but he didn't think Legolas would be able to bear hearing that.

"My feet as well." Legolas reminded the dwarf softly. "Then you must do me a favor, since I am indisposed."

"Rope will have to do for your feet." Gimli slowly went about tying Legolas' feet, making sure no amount of wiggling could undo the rope. Once he was done, he covered Legolas again, trying to hide his bondage as much as possible. "What would you have me do now, meleth- nin?"

"My bow... I cannot be trusted with it... and you know not how to use it, so it is no good to either of us." Legolas said, pausing for a deep breath. "Break it..."

"No!" Even as he protested, GImli knew it would have to be done. "It could be hidden, taken away ..." Tears threatened once again and Gimli fought them back, his fingers balling into a fist around the blankets.

"I would find it, Gimli... you know I would. That bow is as dear to me as you are. But I must not get my hands on it. Break it... and so I cannot find the pieces and fix it... burn it. The arrows too."

"No." Gimli's voice shook with tears. Standing, he took the bow in his hands, feeilng the smooth, well used wood. Though over fifty years old, and well used, the carvings and etchings had not faded one bit. Swallowing back tears, Gimli summed up all of his strength to break the wood in two, feeling as though he'd snapped the neck of an innocent. Taking the string, he rolled it and tucked it into his pack. The two pieces he fed to the fire, convinced he heard the wood shriek in protest.

Legolas cried out involntarily as the wood snapped. He never been without a bow since he'd been old enough to hold one... and this one had been special to him, had seen him through Helm's Deep and Pelenor Fields, had saved his own skin and Gimli's skin more than once. Now he was crippled without it, as surely as if he'd snapped a leg or arm.

Crouching before the fire, Gimli allowed the tears free reign for a moment as he watched the wood burn, cracking and blackening. Finally he stood, wiped his tears, and returned to Legolas.

Looking as though the fire were burning at him rather than at what was left of his bow, Legolas swallowed tightly. "I am tired, Gimli... so tired..." he breathed, closing his eyes wearily.

Gimli placed himself between Legolas and the fire, blocking the Elf's view of it. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Gimli stroked Legolas' cheek, grateful that the exhausted eyes staring up at him were blue.

Legolas shivered and leaned into the touch, sighing softly. "I love you, Gimli... no matter what happens, remember that."

"I know." Gimli nuzzled Legols briefly, hoping the contact was as comforting to the elf as it was to him. "I love you too." He repeated the sentiment in his native tongue.

Legolas smiled weakly. "I need sleep, love... you will stay with me?"

"I'll stay with you until Middle Earth goes cold, beloved." Gimli shifted, getting himself comfortable as possible on the bed.

Legolas nodded, straining against his bonds to kiss Gimli gently before falling back down, exhausted. His eyes remained open, though they unfocused, taking on the semi-aware glaze of elven sleep, though not a deep one.

Shifting so he could see Legolas' eyes clearly, Gimli watched them for some time, making sure they stayed blue. Finally he dozed off himself, in spite of his best efforts.

Some hours later, those sky blue eyes turned completely black. No longer caring for stealth since that stunted little Dwarf already knew what was going on, he yanked at his chains, growling low, hissing and cursing in Black Speech.

Gimli woke when Legolas began to move and imeadiately saw the blackness of his eyes. Leaping away, he tried desperately to ignore the hissing speech that wrenched his stomach and soul. "Legolas!" he called to the elf he knew was still in there somewhere, fighting for control.

"Your whiny little elfling is exhausted." he hissed. "He cannot hear you, you filthy, dirty Dwarf! Let me go or, so help me, I will gut you like a fish!"

"I'll take that chance," Gimli growled, knowing that Legolas had not the strentgh to break free. Deliberately, he picked up his axe, planting himself between the bed and the door.

Cursing in the Black Speech once more, the Elf flexed his legs up sharply, snapping the robes binding his feet. Now kicking and growling like a cornered animal.

Gimli started when he saw the legs were free. He tried to think of some way to once again trap them still ignoring the wrenching speech.

Twisting onto his stomach, he drew his knees up under him, pulling at the chains with renewed force, ignoring the cuts that appeared on the fleshy pat of his hands.

Taking advantage of the position, Gimli leapt forward and hit the WitchKing in the back of Legolas' head, in the one spot that Gimli knew would render him unconcious, no matter who was in control. When the body fell limp, Gimli rebound the legs and flipped Legolas over. Calling at the door, he told one of the servants to go and buy him as much heavy chain as the gold pieces he gave her would buy.

Another hour later, Legolas groaned, fluttering his now-blue eyes. His head hurt terribly and his wrists stung.

Having rebound the legs in chain, as well as a few other re- enforcements, Gimli awaited the flash of blue to begin applying the salve to Leglas' hands. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "He came out and tried to get free ... "

"I know..." Legolas said softly. "I am... aware of what he does when he is in control... but I'm powerless to do anything about it." Legolas shivered. "Elbereth... I feel so weak..."

Gimli nodded and stroked Legolas' forehead. "Do you want to eat? Is there anything that can help you?"

With tear-filled eyes, Legolas glanced up the chains binding his wrists. "I do not think I can have what I need."

Gimli nodded, trying to keep the tears from showing in his eyes, knowing Legolas needed him to be strong when he could not be. "Perhaps Lord Celeborn may be able to help ..." he was grasping at straws.

Legolas shook his head. "If there... was another way to dispose of the Nazgul without killing the victim, he would have told us." he said softly, eyes suddenly widening when it dawned on him what had to happen.

Gimli said nothing, only stroking Legolas' face, trying to comfort them both. "He might be able to find a way ... if ... if he knew what ..."

"Gimli..." Legolas said softly, looking at his lover with teary blue eyes. "Could you... release my arms? Please? He is dormant, I can barely feel him."

It took all of his strength not to comply instantly. "If he feels that you are unbound ..." Gimli eyed the chains, trying to think of a compromise. Taking a long bit of chain, he wrapped it around Legolas' chest "I want to make sure he cannot get out, if he takes over." he chained Legolas to the bed itself, then released his hands from the bed, keeping them still chained together, but no longer over his head. He sent a prayer to Aule and Elbereth tht it would be enough.

Legolas sighed with slight relief, pulling his arms down and rubbing the chaffed and bleeding wrists. "Let me hold you, Gimli? Please?"

His resolve cracking in the face of Legolas' pain, Gimli nodded and set his axe aside. His eyes fixed on Legolas' blue eyes, Gimli settled on the bed, wrappng his arms around Legolas as best he could.

Legolas nuzzled against Gimli, crying again, trying to build up the courage for what he had to say. "I love you, Gimli... always remember that." he began, hoping to ease his Dwarf.

Gimli tightened his arms and nodded. "I know ... And never forget that I love you, even when he .." his voce broke and he stopped talking, struggling back tears.

"When he what?" Legolas asked softly.

"When you can do nothing," Gimli said. "I will always love you, Legolas, whatever he makes your body do."

Legolas nodded. "Then you must... do something for me love."

"Anything, meleth-nin." GImli lifted his head to meet Legolas' blue eyes.

"You... have to do the ritual... on me." he said softly, eyes pleading though his voice was uncertain.

"No!" Gimli's voice choked. "I cannot ... there must be another way. Celeborn might have found some other way ..." tears were allowed free reign for a moment before Gimli caught himslef, wiping his eyes.

"It's the only way!" Legolas cried out with surprising strength. "I am tired, Gimli... I cannot fight him forever. I am not even sure I can fight him through one night. I want to sleep... and what is death if not an eternal sleep?"

"But you will die! You will die as men do ... There will be nothing after ... I cannot damn you to that."

"If you do not do it... I will be damned anyway, beloved. Everytime he takes control it is harder for me to fight him. He is claiming me, Gimli... destroying me from the inside out. If we continue as we have been, he will turn me completely to his will, twist my soul to his." Legolas said, taking a deep breath. "I cannot bear it, my love... and I trust no one else to do it."

Realizing the truth of Legolas words, Gimli fought the sobs that threatened. "Then I will do it. Though I will need time ... I do not know the words as well as you."

Legolas nodded. "I need time as well... this is not something any Elf has had to reconcile before... 'tis likely why the Witchking chose me, I suppose. For what Elf would give up his rights to Valinor?" he sighed before loked at Gimli with renewed love in his eyes. "Now, more than ever, Gimli, I am glad for your Dwarven heart. Your loyalty and strength will save Middle Earth."

"I ... I cannot. I do not know the words, I may not be able to do it at all. It's very precise ... And ... to ... to kill you I fear is beyond my strength."

"Gimli, please... must I beg you? The Witchking is depending on your love for me to keep you from killing him. I am counting on you to destroy him... and to destroy him, you must destroy me."

"I will do it," Gimli said, needing all of his strength to do so. "You must teach me the words."

Legolas nodded. "Your name... you will have to use your real name as well."

"I know ... I would have chosen a better time to reveal it to you, but it can wait no longer." Sitting up, he spoke his true name for the first time in the presense of anoher, praying the WitckKing would not use it against him.

Legolas' eyes lit up, a soft smile spreading on his lips. Slowly, he repeated it, liking how it felt on his tongue.

Gimli shivered at the sound, then nodded. "Yes ... "

Murmuring one of the few phrases he knew perfectly in Dwarvish, Legolas leaned up for a gentle kiss.

Gimli purred at the sound, returning the kiss, stroking Legolas' cheek.

"The words... are in my journal... the first few pages. I wrote out the sounds in Common Tongue so you can learn them." Legolas said softly. "I need... some paper and a quill... I need to write."

Gimili rose and shuffled through their bags until he came upon Legolas' journal, and the ink and quill that accompanied them. "Here."

Legolas took them, shifting enough so he could see what he was doing with the chain still holding him down. "Now... who to write to..? Ada... my brothers... Estel... Gloin..."

"I will deliver them all personally, meleth-nin," Gimli tried to keep his voice calm as he read through the ritual as Legolas had detailed it.

"I know... though I never, for once in my life, contemplating writing farewells..." he sighed, thinking for a moment and then starting the write, biting his lip as he did so, eyes bright with tears again, one or two falling upon the first page.

Setting the journal aside, Gimli simply watched Legolas, stroking his hair, brushing it back when it fell onto the paper.

"I hardly know what to write to my father..." Legolas said at last. "He... has never been fond of me, though I am his son..."

"If you are his son, he may have been more fond of you than you know. Write the truth, beloved, it is best."

Legolas nodded, writing thoughts as they came to him, not bothering to arrange them neatly, pausing when emotions threatened to overcome him. Slowly, but surely, he struggled his way through a letter to Thranduil, one to his brothers, one for Aragorn, for Merry and Pippin and Sam, one for Gloin... but he did not know if he could make it through his last letter.

Gimli carefully folded the letters, setting them carefully aside as Legolas completed them. Seeing the elf was still going to write, he asked "Who is left?"

Legolas took a deep breath. "You, my love."

Gimli shook slightly. "You needn't ... You can say what you will to me, love."

"I would have something tangible for you to hold onto... my words may echo in your ear and you may keep them to hear in your mind for years to come. But this would be something you could keep with you..."

"There are other things I would keep," Gimli fingered a bit of Legolas' hair.

Legolas smiled briefly. "Yes... my hair... I will bind it tightly... though you will have to use one of my knives to cut it off." he said with a mild cringe. His hair had never been cut... and was a strange source of pride for him, much like Gimli's beard.

Gimli's back stiffend a the thought of Legolas' hair being cut. He would never have hoped for more than a few strands from his glorious head. "You need not."

"I want to... maybe it is vanity... but I want you to have it. You have run your fingers through it enough times." Legolas said, looking up. "I would cut it myself, but I do not think it wise for me to wield a knife for any amount of time.//

"I will do it ... after." Gimli's eyes glistened. "What sort of funeral do you wish?" Their peoples had vastly different ways of disposing of the dead. Elves, like men, buried, Dwarves burned.

"Your way." Legolas said softly. "Otherwise, my family may be angry that I am buried so far away... and I would not have you suffer the idea of carrying my body all the way to Mirkwood." he said, shuddering at the words 'my body'.

Gimli nodded slowly. "I could deliver your," he choked over the word. "'remains' to them for an Elven burial?"

"The ashes you mean?" Legolas asked. "Yes... that they would appreciate. Though I wonder what they would do with them."

"Give them a burial, I would hope." Gimli stroked Legolas' hair, taking some comfort in the smooth locks over his fingers.

Legolas nodded. "I will give you my seal before... before the ritual. It will give you safe passage through any Elven realm... even Thranduil's."

Gimli nodded. "I justs pray they don't think I stole it."

"They won't. An elven seal will disintegrate if it is stolen or taken from a lifeless body. But if I give it to you, it will remain intact. They will know that your are Elf-friend... and more importantly, my friend. Whether or not you wish disclose our love, is up to you."

"Very well," Gimli nodded reluctantly. He leaned over and gave Legolas a brief kiss, aware that it could be the last time he ever did so.

Legolas smiled gently and set to writing Gimli's letter, pouring all of his love for the Dwarf onto paper as best he could. When he was finished, he folded and sealed it, a plain sign that Gimli was not to read it until after the ritual was done.

Gimli took it and set it in his pack with the others, along with the ink and quill. "Do you want to rest now?" he asked softly.

"Who can rest with death hanging over them." Legolas said under his breath, revealing far more of his fear than he wanted to.

"Good point," Gimli settled back onto the bed, wrapping his arms around Legolas, holding him close.

Legolas cuddled into the embrace eagerly. "Ai, Gimli... it was not supposed to be like this... another hundred years at least..."

"And it was to be me, not you." He stroked Legolas' hair.

"The one thing we never thought of... our love being used against us." Legolas said softly. "But he has sorely underestimated us... I hope."

"He has. No creature like that can understand love - they see it only as weakness, but it is the source of our greatest strengths."

"Though it is a clever ploy..." Legolas sighed. "He has found the perfect hiding place..."

"At least while things are as they are, he cannot do any other harm than to us."

"And once the ritual is done he can do *nothing* ever again." Legolas nodded, a determined set to his jaw. With a sigh, he pulled two leather ties from his tunic, tying one at the base of his neck around his hair. Then he tightly braided the resulting tail, using the other to tie off the end. "Get one of my knives, Gimli? Please?"

"I'm not cutting it now," Gimli didn't move, still afraid the Withcking would take over if a weapon was near at hand.

Legolas looked down, as though reading Gimli's thoughts. "He's weak... almost to the point where I cannot feel him at all. I think he believes if he leaves me to myself, you will not go through with it."

"Then he has very little estimate of our strength." Gimli gave a weak smile.

"Could we..." Legolas bit his lip. "Is there anyway to do this outside?"

"How would we get you out without creating quite a specacle or unbinding you?"

"Keep my arms chained to my body and put my cloak around me... no one will see that I am bound then." Legolas suggested. "I... I want to... see the stars... one last time."

"And your legs? Should he surface, he could run far faster than I. Perhaps a short length, so you can walk still?"

"My body is too weak for me to get far... even he cannot push me beyond my physical limits. But if you think it neccessary, then chain my legs as well." Legolas nodded, shuddering, the weight of chains pulling heavy on his heart.

"I have seen you push yourself farther than this in battle ... We'll worry about the details when the time is right."

"Soon, Gimli... tonight." Legolas said, shivering despite the resolve in his voice. "I dare not think of what may happen if we let him surface again."

Gimli nodded slowly. "I'll start now, then. And I must ... practice. One line at a time." Reaching for the pile of chains, Gimli sorted out the bits. Slowly, he recited the first line of the ritual.

Legolas listened, carefully searching for any mispronunciations that might hinder the ritual.

"Is that right?" Gimli asked, needing to break up the Elvish to avoid accidently preforming the ritual premeturely.

"It is... you have a slight accent, but the words are correct."

Gimli nodded and began preparing Legolas to be moved, chaining his arms securely before unbinding him from the bed itself.

Legolas stood, stretching his cramped muscles as best he could, feeling a little like a prisoner of war about to be be executed. "Are the stars shining tonight?" he asked softly, since he had not been in any position to look out the window.

Gimli glanced out the window and nodded. "Brightly, my love. More brightly than usual, in fact." He took up Legolas' cloak and flung it about the elf's shoulders, arranging it to hide the chains.

Legolas forced himself to hold his head high, raising what he could of his hand to pull his seal from his neck. The chain bore two rings... his crest, and a plain gold band. "Here, meleth-nin... take these to my father. He will want them."

Gimli nodded, fingering the rings and noting their craftsmanship. "What is this?" He fingered the band, he didn't recognize it.

"My... my mother's wedding band. When she died, she instructed Ada to give it to me... as I was her... her..." he paused, trying not to cry. Legolas rarely spoke of his mother, as though the pain of losing her was still fresh in his heart. "Her... 'golden prince'..."

Gimli nodded and reverently slid the chain around his own neck. "I will see that he gets them."

"My knives... I want you to keep those." Legolas said. "My bow would have done you no good... but you can wield my knives."

Gimli nodded. "Aye ... Though not so gracefully as you." Stopping suddenly, Gimli brought one of the knives up to his hair and cut one of the small braids that hung from above his ear. Tying off the cut end, he gave it to Legolas.

Legolas took a deep breath, taking the gift. "Gimli?" he asked softly, blue eyes searching his lover's.

"I know not what lies beyond ... death. But it may perhaps give you strength."

Legolas smiled through his tears. "Thank you, my love... maybe it will." Taking a deep breath, Legolas walked from the room, slowly thanks to his restrained gait. The stairs were slightly difficult, but they managed to get out with no odd looks. A field of open sky was nearby, far away enough that no one would hear them.

"I only pray that no one comes to investigate what we're doing here so late at night." Gimli followed, carefully reciting thre ritual to himself.

"No one will see us... it is too dark." Legolas said softly, staring up at the stars, letting the slight breeze toss his hair about. "What will you do, Gimli?"

"When? After this?" Gimli helped Legolas to sit, then lie so he could see the stars more easily.

Legolas nodded. "Yes... what will do you... without me?" he asked.

"Were I an elf, I would likely grieve to death. Since I am not ... I will see if King Ellasar has use of me?"

"I am sorry, Gimli... I never thought that... that this would happen to us." Legolas turned his starlit eyes to his lover's, leaning up for a sweet kiss.

Gimli leaned down to kiss him. "Nor did I. And do not apologize, my love. Though no bond was laid upon us, it has become our vow to see to the safey of Middle Earth as best we can. This is the final fulfillment of that vow."

Legolas nodded, looking back at the stars, eyes filling with tears again. "I love you, Gimli..."

Gimli smiled. "And I you." He spoke softly in elvish, repeating a vow they had made decades ago, to each other, binding them as life mates.

Legolas followed suit, though this time he used Gimli's true name, starlight shining on his tears. When they finished, he locked his eyes with Gimli's. "Do it, beloved... kill him."

Gimli nodded and took Legolas' hand. Tears flowed down his cheeks and wet his beard as he spoke, reciting the words that would damn his lover to oblivion, while ridding the earth of the greatest evil now existing.

Legolas began to shudder, though he could not tear his eyes away from the deep rich brown of Gimli's. Pain wracked him as the Witchking awoke within and fought to seize control. But the combined strength of Legolas and Gimli held him in bare check. The Elf's body struggled, mixed Black Speech and Elvish dropping from his lips, eyes switching back and forth between blue and black rapidly.

Gimli spoke carefully, holding Legoals tightly as he preformed the ritual. The black speech sickened him as much as the elvish soothed him, and he watched in horror as Legolas' eyes flashed black, then returned to blue just in time to watch the spark of life die.

Legolas could feel his heart just stop, his breath leaving him and whispered plea of Gimli's true name. His head fell back, seeing only Gimli's eyes and stars overhead before blackness surrounded him and he knew nothing more. Legolas, son of the Thranduil, one of the Nine Walkers was dead... as no Elf had died before.

Gimli sat beside the cooling body, his grief too great even for tears. His heart thudded steadily inside of him, willing it to stop. His breathing was the only sound to fill the night air as he closed Legolas' dull blue eyes. Leaning over he took the elf in his arms once more, holding him close even as the body stiffened and cooled.

Summing his will, Gimli sat up and took Legolas' knife from his pouch. Lifting his golden head, he slid the knife through Legolas' hair, slicing the tightly bound braid off. Holding to his nose, he drew in the lingering scent of his beloved even as tears fell onto the gold strands.


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