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by Little My
Warnings: Slash, mostly PWP
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: The War is over, and Legolas fulfills his promise to visit the Glittering Caves with Gimli.
This is dedicated to Adina and Nimue, who had the conversation that sparked this idea. Special thanks to Adina for beta-reading, and for not minding me posting a story with the same theme as her wonderful "Chamber of Lovers".
"Then Legolas repaid his promise to Gimli and went with him to the Glittering Caves…"
The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien.
It was cold. Cold and dark and damp. Legolas shivered in the flickering light of the lantern and moved a little closer to Gimli. Normally the cold didn't affect him overmuch, but here with the oppressive weight of thousands of tons of rock over his head, ice seemed to have entered his veins.
The caves of his father's kingdom in Mirkwood were nothing like this. Filled with light and air, and with reassuring views of the outdoors through its wide windows… and even then Legolas had spent as little time in them as possible, preferring to hunt and ride in the forest or in the open lands beyond the elf-king's borders. But this place--this place was different. Darker, deeper and gloomier. Dangerous.
Why had he agreed to come here to the Glittering Caves with Gimli? It had seemed such an easy promise to make, in the warm sunlight and under the trees, with Gimli's face aglow with excitement and awe as he described the incredible beauty he had discovered at Helm's Deep. He had been struck by his friend's enthusiasm, and had wished to comfort him in his obvious distress at leaving the caves behind. But now even the memory of the sunlight and warmth of that day seemed distant and dim, and he reflected bitterly on the old adage that words are often easier said than done.
Gimli, however, seemed filled with cheerful good humour as they carefully picked their way through the twists and turns of the underground tunnels. The air was still. The only sounds were of their breathing and quiet footfalls, and even these were muffled, as if the pressing darkness swallowed everything up as soon as it fell beyond the protective circle of lamplight.
At length Gimli stopped. "We are almost there," he said softly, and the elf could see his eyes gleam in the near darkness. "Come, Legolas. Close your eyes and I will lead you the rest of the way."
Legolas froze. He could feel something very much like terror welling up inside of him… no, he could not close his eyes, not in this place, not here.
The dwarf stepped closer and held out his hand. "Do you trust me?" he asked.
"Aye," whispered Legolas, the single word falling flat in the dead air.
"Then come. I will not let any harm befall you, and I want your first glimpse of the Caves to be perfect.
The elf could not help but smile at the excitement in his friend's face. He sighed in acquiescence. "All right. But I know that this is revenge for your treatment in Lothlorien."
The dwarf laughed. "Nay, for you were blindfolded then too, so I consider us even on that score. Now, close your eyes."
Legolas did so. Immediately it seemed that the mountain pressed even closer upon him and the world spun in the inky blackness, but then Gimli's hard calloused hand slid into his, and the dwarf stepped close to his side to steady and guide him. The elf took a few calming breaths, then allowed Gimli to lead him carefully forward, one step at a time. Legolas's soft elven boots allowed him to feel the floor of the tunnel clearly and the dwarf's sturdy presence at his side served to ground him in the floating blackness.
How long they moved forward in this way the elf knew not, but he began to sense changes around him. The air now moved, caressing his face and lifting his hair away from his heated neck, and the ground changed to sand beneath his feet. And there were sounds--faint murmuring sounds that grew stronger with every step, almost as if they approached a room full of people, whispering.
One more step and then another, and Legolas could suddenly sense that they had moved into a very large cavern. The rustling and murmuring sounds were all around them now, making him squeeze his eyes shut tightly against the urge to open them prematurely, thus spoiling Gimli's plan. He could feel the dwarf fairly vibrating with excitement as he carefully guided him forward a dozen more steps, then turned him to face a certain direction.
"Stay here a moment, my friend," Gimli murmured. "And keep your eyes shut." And then the dwarf was gone.
Legolas gasped as the world tilted and spun around him. He wavered and reached out for Gimli's steadying presence, but he was not there. The elf could hear him, not far off, scuffling in the dark.
"Gimli…" he called, a little startled at the plaintiveness of his own voice. And gasped again as his voice was picked up and flung into all corners of the cavern. "Gimli….li….li…li…." The echoes surrounded him, mixing with all the other whispers, filling his ears, tickling over his skin. Bright spots began to bloom behind his eyelids as the ground slid away from under him.
"All right, you may open your eyes."
Gimli's voice cut through the whirling chaos and, weak with relief, Legolas opened his eyes to gasp once more, this time in wonder.
A vast cavern arched impossibly high over their heads, glistening and glittering in the flickering light. Indeed, the place seemed much brighter than could be possible from the glow of their small lantern, but the beams of light were caught in the many facets of the crystals and gems imbedded in the walls, and refracted back a million million times so that it was as if they stood at the centre of a vast, shimmering constellation of stars.
Delicate curtains of living stone fluttered high in the air in the unsteady light; twisted columns of marble rose from the ground, or descended from the vaulted ceiling, coloured white, saffron and the palest rose, and as graceful as any tree. Tiny perfect drops of water, their source unknown, slipped down the pillars to land with a musical plink in a crystal clear pool. The pool reflected everything back again--the pillars, the curtains of stone, the gems, the light--until it was almost too much, too much to bear.
And still the sounds whispered all around, shivering through the air; every plink of water, the raspy sound of sand rubbing against sand, the very air itself moving over and around the stone. But there was more to it than that-–as if every sound that had ever found its way into the cavern was still there, echoing and reechoing around the chamber in an ever softening but never dying wave. Legolas fancied he could still hear the echo of his call to Gimli, trapped here now, forever.
Gimli's face suddenly appeared before him, jumping in the flickering, sparkling illumination. The elf blinked and tried to get him to stay in focus, but it was hard to concentrate with his senses under such an assault. The dwarf looked at him closely, and seemingly satisfied with the suitable look of awe on his face, gave his arm a reassuring squeeze and moved away to explore. The scraping sound of his boots on the floor fractured and bounced off the walls, causing Legolas's head to spin again briefly.
Moving to the side of the pool, Legolas knelt and tried to gather himself. It was difficult to rest his gaze on any one thing with the way the light was spinning and glimmering around him, and the never ending whispers of sound seemed to have made their way directly into the centre of his head. He dipped his hand in the pool, and the pain of the frigid water grounded him briefly, but not for long.
He closed his eyes to escape from the sparkling, jumping light that moved like a hundred tickling fingers over his body, but had to open them quickly as the whispering grew louder and his head began to whirl. His heart was pounding erratically in his chest--if he could just get away from the sounds and the sparkling light for just a moment--but they never let up, scraping along his raw nerves and drilling through his head and into his mind.
It seemed both a very long time and a very short time had passed when he looked up and beheld Gimli beside him at the pool. His face swam in and out of focus, and he was saying something, but what Legolas could not hear. The dwarf reached out a hand and touched Legolas on his arm. The touch sparked on his over-sensitized flesh, sending tingles racing up and down his body, setting his very veins afire. He keened aloud at the sensation, and the cavern gleefully pounced on the sound, sending it soaring around them in a million shivering fragments that raised the hair on the back of his neck.
Gimli moved closer and slid a steadying arm about his shoulders, and Legolas clutched at him a bit desperately. The dwarf's compact muscled body was forge hot and reassuringly solid--a stable foundation amidst all the spinning, glittering impermanence, and the elf rested against him momentarily, breathing in gasps as he tried to steady himself. Gimli unclenched Legolas's hands from where they had tangled in his cloak and held them firmly in his own, dipping his head to try and see the elf's face properly.
"Legolas…" he said softly, but the word was like a shout to the elf's sensitive ears, as it slid back and forth in undying echoes. Frantically, the elf shook his head, trying to forestall more sounds from his friend--more sounds that would just stay and stay forever in this place, circling round and round till the end of time. Not understanding, Gimli opened his mouth again, and unable to free his hands from the dwarf's tight grip, Legolas leaned forward and covered it with his own.
What started as a desperate bid to stop his mouth turned quite suddenly into a kiss--deep, hard and hot. A burning flush raced through his body, cutting through the confusion of light and sound.
After stiffening a moment in surprise, the dwarf's hands released his to run over his arms and around his back, pulling him closer into the strength of his embrace. The firm stroking of his touch over the elf's body counteracted the tickling of the light, sending a different sensation searing through his raw nerves. Barely aware of his own actions, Legolas fumbled with Gimli's clothing, desperate to get closer to his heat and strength. Their tongues met as they battled for dominance in the kiss.
Rolling over and over on the sand, clothes finally discarded, Legolas felt he was drowning in an extreme of sensation. At every touch from Gimli, his skin jumped and tingled, and he was hard, harder than he'd ever been before in his life. All around them the light danced and jittered, while the whispers fled around and around the cavern. And the sounds changed, from whispers to moans and cries that fractured and fled into the darkness, only to return, louder and stronger. Legolas then realized that the sounds--the new sounds--came from himself and the dwarf as they helplessly gave voice to their passion.
As their bodies joined together in a rhythm that seemed as natural as breathing, the rhythm of the light and the sounds joined with them too- -the crystals sang and the light pulsed, and through it all a deep hum permeated to their very bones. The whole cave rang like a great bell as together they tumbled over the edge of sweet release, shuddering through the heights of ecstasy in an explosion of light and sound.
Minutes or hours later, Legolas came to himself again, head pillowed on Gimli's broad chest and the dwarf's strong arms around him. The cave was still filled with dancing light and whispering echoes, but it did not have the power to confound him any more.
He lay there, slow breathing matched to that of the dwarf, and felt deep within a slow pulsing rhythm, as if the very heartbeat of the mountain was in his bones. The heartbeat of the mountain or the heartbeat of Gimli--it seemed one and the same thing.
Something was different--beyond the obvious difference that would inevitably come after sharing such an intimate experience with your dearest friend. He could still feel the incredible weight of the mountain over and around him, but it had ceased to be oppressive and was somehow strong, comforting and protective, like Gimli's arms that encircled him now.
Lifting his head, he looked down at the dwarf. Lying with eyes closed, his face was more serene than he had ever seen it, the lines of care and stress all but gone. A small smile was almost invisible in his beard and reaching out, Legolas stroked a hand tenderly across his brow. Against the flushed ruddiness of the dwarf's skin, his hand was as pale as marble--outlined in a sharp-edged hardness as if it had been carved by a very skilled craftsperson out of stone.
At that moment Gimli opened his eyes, his smile widening as he met the elf's gaze, and Legolas could not help but stare in wonder. For his eyes reflected the dancing sparkles of light, and at that moment, it seemed as if the dwarf's eyes were filled with the light of the stars.
Smiling back at Gimli, he took his hand in one of his own, and marveled at how clearly he could feel the dwarf's steady heartbeat through the contact of their palms. It was perfectly synchronized to the pulsing rhythm that still echoed through his body, and with the beating of his own heart. With a sudden certainty, he realized that he would always carry a piece of this place, this strong mountain fastness, inside of him. It seemed fitting, as a part of him would always reside here in these caves--a part of him and Gimli together, the sounds of their love circling round and round the Glittering Caves forever.
"…and when they returned he was silent, and would say only that Gimli alone could find fit words to speak of them."
The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien.
It was a glorious day. The War was over, peace was returning to the land, and the sun was shining down out of a blue sky…somewhere outside, no doubt. In here, however, it was dark, close and soothing, like being in a mother's womb. He was back underground where he belonged, and returning to the Glittering Caves felt as if he was coming home, even though he had been here only once before.
He was so excited that if he weren't a dwarf, he'd be skipping. But dwarves did not skip, or prance, or clap their hands in glee; unlike elves, who would do all three at the slightest provocation. And speaking of elves… he cast a glance over at his companion, who was walking carefully next to him in complete silence. That alone was enough to tell Gimli that the elf was highly uneasy.
He had been surprised beyond belief when Legolas had pledged to visit the Glittering Caves with him, should the war be won. He knew full well how much the elf loathed being underground and closed in--that much had been painfully evident during their ill-fated trip through Khazad-dûm.
But perhaps Legolas had not expected either of them to survive, and therefore had never bargained on fulfilling that promise. Gimli himself had been filled with a vague astonishment as the tide of the last, horrible battle against the might of Sauron had turned in their favour. Astonishment is what he could remember at any rate, through the haze of pain and exhaustion, at finding himself still alive and standing. And then looking over to see Legolas striding towards him through the heaps of corpses, bright hair blowing in the breeze like a pennant. Alive, against all probabilities.
And so here they were, moving deeper and deeper into the caverns beneath Helm's Deep--the excited dwarf and the reluctant elf. The air was still--the comfortable kind of air that was to be found deep underground in smaller caves or passageways. It did not hide or distort, or keep secrets. A faint scent, at once both calming and invigorating, tickled his nose--an indefinable smell that spoke of ancient rock and the history of his people. The only sounds were of their muted breathing and footfalls.
Gimli could feel his stomach tighten with anticipation as they grew closer to their ultimate destination. His palm became sweaty where it gripped the lantern's handle. Now this would be a sight that would make Legolas forget he was deep underground. It would be fantastic! But would the elf be able to appreciate it? Surely he would--the elves were known for their great love of beauty in all its natural forms, and what was more natural than this glorious cave, untouched by anyone for hundreds, maybe thousands of years? He would love it… he *must* love it! But he would have to make the experience perfect for his friend.
He stopped, touching Legolas lightly on his arm.
"We are almost there," he said softly, and his eyes searched the elf's face in the dim light. "Come, Legolas. Close your eyes and I will lead you the rest of the way."
Instantly, he could see Legolas freeze. For a moment the elf's eyes looked terrified, like those of a trapped animal, and the dwarf felt a stab of conscience for putting the elf through what was so clearly a torture for him. But it will be worth it, he told himself firmly, and held out his hand towards his friend.
"Do you trust me?" he asked, and it seemed as if the quiet air held its breath along with him, as he waited anxiously for the elf's answer.
"Aye," came the soft reply, and Gimli relaxed.
"Then come. I will not let any harm befall you, and I want your first glimpse of the Caves to be perfect, " he said, peering up at the elf's face and trying to judge his state of mind.
Seeing his scrutiny, Legolas gave him a shaky smile. "All right. But I know that this is revenge for your treatment in Lothlorien."
Gimli laughed in relief--if the elf could make even so weak a jest, then he was not faring too badly.
"Nay, for you were blindfolded then too, so I consider us even on that score," he responded lightly. "Now, close your eyes."
He could see the elf swallow convulsively. In the lamplight his face looked gaunt and hollow, and he wondered briefly at the wisdom of this adventure. But at last Legolas closed his eyes and stood there in so trusting a manner that Gimli's heart clenched in his chest. Surreptitiously wiping his hand on his breeches, he stepped close beside the elf and slipped one hand into his. The elf's fingers were cool and dry, but he could feel them trembling slightly.
Exerting pressure through their joined hands, he carefully guided Legolas forward through the remaining passageways that led to the main cavern. The quiet air had left, to be replaced by the playful capricious air typical of larger caves. He could hear the beginnings of a murmuring echo that told him they were nearing their destination.
A few more careful steps and they rounded an outcropping of rock, and stepped into the main cavern of the Glittering Caves. Gimli's hand tightened convulsively on Legolas's and he suppressed a gasp of wonder and joy.
It was everything he had remembered it to be. The ceiling domed high into the air over their heads, encrusted with thousands of crystals and jewels, and veined through with ribbons of precious ores twined together in intricate patterns. Fragile columns, twisted into fantastic shapes, rose up from the sandy floor and marched off into the darkening distance. And curtains of marble, folded in wondrous furls and whorls that spoke of the tremendous pressures found deep within the earth, translucent and glowing with the delicate colours of dawn in the light of their lantern.
In the centre was a pool; deep, cold and crystal clear, fed slowly over the millennia, drop by tiny drop, by water that filtered down through the very heart of the mountain.
The light from their small lantern was picked up and flung into every corner of the cavern by the myriad facets of the crystals and gems, filling it with a vivid shimmering luminescence. And the echoes… oh, the echoes! Fleeing around the caves with restless joy in a fantastic and intricate dance of sound. The place was indeed a feast for all the senses.
He tugged the elf forward, trying to calm himself as he felt Legolas tensing up beside him. Looking about for the perfect spot, he carefully maneuvered the elf so he was facing into the heart of the cavern, and with the best vantage point calculated to produce the greatest, most overwhelming effect when he opened his eyes.
Now then, where would be the best place to put the lantern? He looked around eagerly, and spying a handy outcropping of stone, he turned back to the elf.
"Stay here a moment, my friend," he said quietly. "And keep your eyes shut."
Quickly he crossed to the outcropping to place the lantern upon it. Fiddling with the shutters, he adjusted the illumination until he was satisfied that he could coax no further beauty from the dancing sparkles of reflected light.
Startled by the plaintive call, he spun around to look back at Legolas, and was shocked by the sight that greeted him. The elf was listing-- there was no other word for it--his arms outstretched and searching in the air around him, his eyes squeezed tightly shut under furrowed brows. His face looked alarmingly pale in the flickering light, and the dwarf realized that he was about to fall over.
Hastily, he spoke. "All right, you may open your eyes."
And watched with a mixture of concern, anticipation, and gut-wrenching anxiety as Legolas did so, an almost comical expression of relief on his face. The elf blinked owlishly as he tried to refocus in the unexpectedly bright light. Then his jaw dropped, his eyes widened, and he gave a gasp of pure and unaffected wonder.
Gimli nearly shouted with delight. It was perfect; it was just the reaction he had hoped for. He watched as the elf's gaze roved around the cavern, taking in the beautiful sights. He appeared to be slightly overwhelmed but stable now--indeed, the dwarf felt a moment of regret that he had asked him to close his eyes.
He moved back beside the elf, looking carefully up into his face. Legolas returned his gaze, blinking a little in a dazed fashion. It made Gimli want to laugh aloud with glee and pride--*he* had managed to do this to his friend, to put this expression of wonder and awe on this ancient elf's face, and with the beauty of a *cave*, no less. The very cave that Legolas had flippantly stated that he would give much gold to be excused from, and double to be let back out of if he strayed in!
But instead, he gave Legolas's arm a reassuring squeeze. The elf seemed to be doing better now, and Gimli felt comfortable with leaving him to discover the splendors of the cave for himself.
Oh, he could spend days in here and never get tired. He moved around the cavern, remembering and rediscovering all the special places he had found that night during the battle of Helm's Deep. It was even better now, without the anxiety of the war and the nagging fear he had felt at the time for being separated from the elf.
Here on the walls was the stratification of rock that told of the crushing pressure, terrible heat and violent upheavals that could transform one kind of stone into another. The whole history of the mountain, laid out before him like the pages of an esoteric book--the entire story there, if one only had the knowledge of reading it.
Now he sat, in a little grotto studded with clear crystals and fiery gems, with closed eyes, lost in the beautiful songs of the echoes. The light twinkled all around him like landbound stars, fallen by some sorcery from the night sky to rest here at the base of the mountain.
With a start, Gimli shook off the mesmerizing trance that had settled upon him. It had been some time since he had last seen or heard Legolas, and he guiltily realized he should probably have not left him unattended for so long.
Making his way back to the lantern, he saw the elf, not far from where he had left him. He was kneeling by the pool, long hair falling in a curtain around his face. He was so still, and Gimli felt a twinge of alarm.
Hurrying over, he crouched down by the elf's side. "Legolas, are you well?" he asked, although it was clear that the elf was not.
His breathing was noticeably irregular, and his face even paler than before. Even more disconcerting--he was squeezing his eyes shut and then opening them again, over and over. Uncertain of what to do, Gimli hesitantly put a hand on his arm. The response was electrifying-- Legolas jerked at the contact, threw back his head and wailed. The sound rebounded off the walls around them as if the cavern was filled with unhappy elves, instead of just one.
Thoroughly alarmed now, Gimli moved closer to his friend and slid an arm about his shoulders. He wondered if they should collect their things and leave, but his thoughts were interrupted by Legolas, who turned and clutched at him with surprising force. The elf burrowed into him fiercely, pressing his face to the dwarf's chest, breath now coming in harsh gasps.
Grasping the elf's hands firmly, he untangled them from the stranglehold they had on his cloak, and attempted to get a good look at his face. Confused and bewildered, he wished that Aragorn were here with them--he might know what was ailing Legolas, and be able to help him.
"Legolas…" he began again softly, but the elf was shaking his head, over and over, eyes wide and panicked in his pale face. And now he was tugging frantically at their joined hands, trying to break free. Afraid that the elf would flee if he released him, Gimli tightened his grip.
He needed to get the dratted elf to talk to him--to tell him what was wrong and how he could help. He opened his mouth to say he knew not what, but the words died in his throat when Legolas lunged at him suddenly, covering his mouth with his own.
Gimli stiffened in astonishment--his mind went blank with shock, and at the same time filled with a whirl of confusion, which was a very strange sensation to say the least. But the elf's lips were warm as they parted against his, and the violence of the kiss--for that's what it was, a kiss--surprised him with a jolt of arousal. The idea drifted vaguely through his mind that maybe it was a good thing that Aragorn wasn't here after all, when he realized that the elf was now yanking viciously at his clothing.
Growling a little, he made good use of his sturdy frame to flip Legolas onto his back in the sand, and did some yanking of his own. His feeling of triumph at quickly divesting the elf of his shirt was short-lived, as Legolas, with a violent convulsion of muscles, reversed their positions and ripped the dwarf's tunic in two.
For one moment of absolute clarity, Gimli wondered at the sudden vehemence and depth of his passion. The banked fires of his desire had been abruptly stirred to life--aye, stirred and doused with lamp oil, and now he was burning alive in the conflagration.
But there was no time for reflection as they rolled together in the sand, clutching and clawing, struggling for dominance in a joining that resembled more of a battle than a loving union. The frantic, feral look on the elf's face, as he bared white teeth in a snarl before dipping his head to nip sharply at the dwarf's collarbone, both alarmed and delighted Gimli beyond reason.
Naked, finally--the sweet sensation of skin against skin warring with the sharp jabbing of rocks and the painful rasp of sand against sensitive flesh. Gimli knew that they would both be sore and bruised later, but for now he didn't care. His beautiful cave was now filled with the sounds of his beautiful elf--gasps and moans of pure pleasure that, again, *he* was the cause of. But his feeling of triumph over this was short-lived too, as he suddenly gave a loud moan of his own, stimulated past the point of his own endurance.
As they approached the pinnacle together, Gimli desperately tried to keep his eyes open, wanting to see the pleasure on Legolas's face framed by the magnificence of his cave. But it was impossible, and as the intense feelings overwhelmed him he had to be content with hearing the elf's cry of release mingling with his own, echoing around and around the cavern in a fantastic avalanche of sound.
Legolas had collapsed on top of him, and he had just enough strength left to wrap his arms around the slender frame. Gimli lay there, his breathing slowing from his exertions, feeling a strange mix of utter bewilderment, an unexpected joy and a certain smug satisfaction.
He had a vague sense that he should be wondering what in Durin's name had just happened, but he was too tired, contented and sated to do anything except lie there.
At any rate, the elf seemed fine now. He was a boneless weight on his chest, hair rumpled into overbrilliant disorder, breathing deep and slow, all signs of panic gone. Gimli closed his eyes and sighed, savouring the delicious soreness that permeated his body, and let himself drift off into a state of hazy oblivion. The cavern cradled them both in its stony arms--the echoes had died down to a low murmur that seemed to whisper "hush, hush!" to his ears.
Suddenly he felt Legolas stir, lifting his head from where it had rested upon his chest. There was a moment of silence, then the elf's hand, feather soft, ghosted lightly across his brow. With an effort, Gimli opened his eyes and had to smile at the sight that greeted him.
The elf's face was flushed and glowing, his eyes wide and dark in the softly pulsing light. There was an expression of dazed wonder on his face as he gazed back at Gimli, then he smiled as he took one of the dwarf's hands in his own.
Amazing how their hands fit so well together--the dwarf's broad and calloused, the elf's long and slender. As their fingers intertwined, Gimli could feel their mingled heartbeats, perfectly synchronized, and he wondered at this. And he wondered as well just when, exactly, the splendor of the Glittering Caves had dimmed in face of the light in an elf's eyes.
Exiting from the caverns under Helm's Deep, Gimli and Legolas blinked in the late afternoon sunlight. They had spent many hours together deep underground, exploring more of the caves and of each other. But now it was time to return to their companions, and the two walked side by side for the moment in comfortable silence.
Gimli sighed and tugged futilely at his ruined tunic. He had overlapped the torn edges and secured them tightly together with his belt, but the result looked decidedly odd. His hair and beard had become unplaited at some point, the thongs that tied them lost, and so he was forced leave them both unbound.
Glancing over at the elf, he could see that he looked hardly better. One of his sleeves was ripped almost right off, and his hair was incredibly and uncharacteristically tangled, despite his best efforts of combing it out with his fingers. There was an abrasion--probably from the sand--across one high cheekbone, and a line of bruises descended the smooth column of his throat to disappear under his collar. Luckily, Gimli's scrapes and bruises were mostly hidden, either by his beard or by his clothes.
There was an odd gait to the elf's walk, too, and Gimli was willing to bet there was sand in areas where it really wasn't welcome. He himself was certainly suffering from the same problem.
Catching the elf's eye, he grinned widely. "I was just pondering what we will tell the others, to explain our… disordered appearance."
Legolas grinned back, a bit wickedly. "We will tell them there was an accident."
"An accident? Such as a cave-in?" Gimli began to chuckle.
"Aye. Or an avalanche."
"We were set upon by cave trolls!"
"Trampled by oliphaunts!" Now they were both laughing, hard.
"Nay, I shall tell them the truth," said Gimli when he could speak again.
"And what is the truth?" asked the elf, still smiling broadly.
"That I was set upon by a wild elf, fey and terrible, whose only desire was to assault my virtue. I did not stand a chance, as can be witnessed by the state of my clothes," Gimli said, looking sorrowfully down at his ripped tunic.
"Then I will also have to tell them the truth," came the solemn response.
"Which is?" Startled by the elf's sudden shift in mood from jocular to somber, Gimli waited a bit anxiously for his reply.
"That I was taken to a most wondrous place by my dear friend, and there I was overcome by sensations that were too much to bear. And that I was drowning in a wave of terror and panic, until that wave broke upon the sturdy rock that is you, Gimli. You were there for me, and you did not judge, and I thank you for helping me when I was unable help myself." The elf's face was serious as he reached out to gently run his fingers through Gimli's long unbound hair.
The dwarf blushed, and could not think of a single thing to say.
"And I would also like to thank you," continued Legolas, his tone lighter, "for the scrapes on my knees and elbows, the numerous bruises, the state of my hair and clothes, and the sand in my…"
He laughed and side-stepped, as Gimli aimed a half-hearted swat in his direction.
"And I look forward to repaying you in a suitable fashion, when we visit the forest of Fanghorn together, as you promised." And he laughed again as Gimli groaned in dismay.
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Issue No.: 2.6
Site Last Updated: 11 May 2003