|Author: Athea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: Beneath it all, part thirteen
Summary: After the wedding, they meet a healer and unfortunately they also get some bad news.
Date: 23 March 2002
The wedding was beautiful. The Lady Arwen shone like a dark star next to her king. Aragorn wore that faintly stunned look that most new husbands wore, the one that said he couldn't quite believe that he was really married. They'd endured so much separation that it had to seem like a beautiful dream finally become reality. They looked good together. Right, somehow.
Eomer said that he must choose his new Queen instead of the Lady who'd come to mean so much to me. I understood and released him from our battle vow but knew that the Lady Galadriel would always be first in my heart. She'd seen truly into my soul and perhaps even then, she'd known what would grow between her cousin and me. Whatever would come, I had the best helpmeet in Middle-earth in the form of my beloved.
The party looked like it would go on all day and night. But Legolas was already flagging, his energy drained by his singing of their bonding song. I'd watched him sing and known in my heart that he was singing for me as well as the lovers now wed. The Lady had mentioned our own bonding ceremony and suddenly I wanted that more than anything.
I wanted to stand up in front of our friends and vow myself to Legolas. And I wanted to hear his vows to me. But for now, I needed to get him out of the milling crowds before he paled further and threw up on the next Elf who accosted him. Pasting a smile on my face, I burrowed through the mostly polite crowd to my love's side. Bowing to the three Elves he was speaking with, I made up an important appointment with Lord Elrond since I hadn't seen him lately.
Legolas smiled and made his apologies while following me out of the crowds of well wishers. Once free of the reception room, I led him through the halls to the door that led to one of the hidden gardens. The peace in these shaded groves was a favorite of my Elf and I'd come to love it, too. I'd stashed some cool peach nectar in a secluded glade with some of his favorite biscuits so that's where I led him.
I'd spread a blanket out and Legolas sank onto it with a sigh. "Dearest Gimli, what great good care you take of me. I love you."
Stealing a kiss, I joined him and pushed him onto his back so I could rub his feet. Pulling his soft-sided boots from his feet, I first kissed each high arch before beginning the kneading that made him groan. I loved making him moan even if it was just with a foot massage. Stroking firmly so it didn't tickle, I smoothed the long day out of the tender digits. My Elf had long elegant feet to go with his elegant body.
"I thought my father would arrive in time to witness the wedding." He said wistfully, plucking at his laces with an almost nervous motion. "I sent word of the success of the journey and my happiness with you. Elrond spoke to me and said that spring storms had been fierce in Mirkwood."
"He's probably on his way but got stuck somewhere." I assured him while feeling that twinge of uncertainty again when I thought about what his father would think of me.
"Thranduil was always a stern father but fair in his own way. He may not accept us right away as Elrond did and the babies will disconcert him but he will see that I am happy." Legolas smiled at me but I thought I detected a hint of my own uncertainty in his eyes. "He will give us his blessing, I'm sure."
"If you are happy, my love, then he will bless our bond. Every father wants the best for his son and I know that I am not what he expected for you. Was there ever a talk of an alliance with one of the other Elf clans?" I was curious.
"One or two but nothing set in stone." He blushed. "None of them sparked anything other than a tepid liking on my part so I kept putting Father off. Seizing on Gollum's escape to make one of my own, I fled while he was still promoting a match with a neighboring princess."
"I am glad, my love. I cherish our friendship and love above all others." Smiling at him, I felt him relax under my hands. "And I always shall. Now, when shall we meet this other healer that Gandalf told us about?"
"Would now be a good time?" A light tenor voice came from behind the trunk of the tree that shaded us.
Legolas sat up and I sprang to my feet while a white-haired Elf appeared at the edge of our blanket. He was the first almost homely Elf that I'd ever seen. His face was broad and placid with laugh wrinkles by his green eyes. His hesitant smile was disarming and his voice apologetic.
"I'm sorry if I'm intruding but I thought now might be a good time to introduce myself. Rheanas Silverhair at your service." He bowed slightly and I returned it while relaxing just a little.
"Gimli, son of Gloin, at yours."
"Rhea, it's good to see you again. It's been years. Please join us in our relaxing." Legolas smiled at him and me to let me know it was all right to sit back down.
"Thank you, My Prince." Rheanas sank to the blanket on my lover's other side. "It has indeed been years. Lord Elrond tells me that you have need of a healer for your new settlement?" The faint question in his voice told me that our secret was still ours.
We looked at each other and Legolas took a deep breath before telling him why we needed a healer. I was getting used to the wide-eyed reaction. At least Rheamas didn't gape open his mouth and look like a fish out of water the way that Aragorn had. To his credit, he immediately accepted our explanation and began to ask questions. Intelligent questions that gave me hope that perhaps he would be the one to help us.
Falling silent, he thought for a long moment while I fed Legolas one of the little cheese biscuits he liked. Pouring peach nectar for all of us I waited for him to finish his inner dialog. I've always liked a person who thought first and reacted later. Growing older can do that to you and I liked the idea that he was one of the older Elves that I'd met.
Age usually does bring wisdom although I knew of a few exceptions.
"Goodness, what a fascinating story." His smile was slow but wide and I felt myself relax even more. "I would like very much to be the first healer of this age to help birth such surprising babies. I can see that they will be born in love, the way that they were conceived. Yes, please, may I join your community?"
"Yes." My relief was palpable and Legolas' was also. Our simultaneous answer must have reassured him of our sincerity for he chuckled.
"I will be bringing my wife Lorel and our youngest daughter, Miriel. My daughter is in training to be a healer herself, specializing in herb lore. Will this be aceptable?"
"Yes, certainly, Rhea. I look forward to meeting them both." Legolas smiled broadly and squeezed my hand. "We hope to find a Dwarf healer who might join us also since we don't know for sure what the combination of Elf and Dwarf seed may result in."
"Fascinating." Rhea smiled back at both of us. "I may even know of one myself. I shall send a message to Basteal of the Belfalas and see if he's up to a move. I've worked with him before and he's a most canny Dwarf. I think you will like him."
"I look forward to meeting him." I said with another sigh although this one I kept to myself. I didn't want him to think me melancholy. Things were moving so quickly that I was having a hard time keeping up. But our conversation turned general, mostly about time and the move and the building to come.
That part would give me great satisfaction and I thought of the plans I'd drawn on parchment and inside my head. Until we could leave, I had my building right here to continue and two days later would find me hard at work on those damaged outer walls while Aragorn and his bride had their honeymoon.
A week later, I was finishing up a section of the wall with my crew of stone masons when one of Elrond's sons arrived in a rush. My heart skipped a beat at the grave look on his face and I made my apologies before leaving with him. Just out of sight and hearing of the others, he knelt before me and bit his lip.
"Is it Legolas?" I asked tersely.
"Yes, but he is ... mostly all right." Elrohir sighed. "We were with my father when a messenger came from King Thranduil. He sent a scroll tube to Elrond and he opened it with a quip about late cousins. But what came out was a broken arrow and a small piece of parchment."
My jaw turned to granite while I waited for what was to come. A broken arrow meant death to both our races.
"Legolas rose and crossed to my father in time to see what was written." Elrohir bit his lip and swallowed hard, continuing in a near whisper. "It said, 'My son is dead to me.' Legolas went so pale that my brother sprang to his side and he was there to catch him when he fainted. Rheanas had him carried to your rooms and he's with him now. Father sent me to find you."
'My son is dead to me.'
I couldn't seem to understand those cruel words. My vision dimmed while an anger grew in me beyond anything I had ever known. How could a father disown his son for falling in love? How could a man act so horribly to the son to whom he gave life? A red haze fell over my eyes but I swallowed the anger for the moment.
Turning on my heel, I strode towards the palace. I would hate Thranduil later right now I needed to go to Legolas. What words of comfort were there for a disinherited son? Worse than disinherited, cast out from family and home with one short sentence? On the outer range of my consciousness, I knew that Elrohir kept pace with me and later I would be grateful for his presence.
Now, I just needed to hold the man I loved beyond life itself and try to comfort his wounded soul. Striding up the stairs, I found Elladan waiting outside the door with Pip and Merry beside him. I noted their woeful looks with that distant part of my mind that could still reason.
But the primitive part of my soul was stirred to raging life and I felt only the need to protect my own from all hurts. Elrohir stayed by his brother while I opened the door quietly and closed it behind me. Rheanas turned from the bed where I could see blond hair spilling over the pillow. Crossing to my side where I stood frozen in sudden fear, he knelt by me and spoke in an urgent whisper.
"You're angry, Gimli but you must let it go. He needs your love and your reassurance that he still has value in your life."
"What?" I thawed abruptly and felt the anger boiling inside of me.
"He will feel your rage and right now your anger will spill over onto him. He feels worthless and adrift with suddenly no past to anchor him. That is your job now." The kindly face was serious and almost stern. "Give him your love, not your hate."
I shook with the conflicting emotions that battled within me. But when a soft voice floated from the big bed, everything fell into place for me with sudden, shining clarity. I nodded to Rheanas and left him with a sure step. Climbing the wooden steps that we had so often teased each other about, I met such a bewildered look that my heart broke in two.
"Gimli?" The soft voice shook.
"Beloved Legolas, I'm sorry that I wasn't there when the message came." I lay down by him and gathered his trembling body into my arms. "I love you so much that I can not conceive of someone not cherishing you equally."
His tears were silent but it was the bruised look around his eyes that tore at my heart. "We are something new, my Legolas, and yet ancient at the same time. There will be many who can not accept us or our love. Just think about the First Age where two males could love and create new families with their own bodies. I think that they would be quite comfortable with us."
He sniffed a little but the tears were slowing so I kept on talking.
"We are creating a new family with Hobbit brothers, Men cousins, a Wizard grandfather and soon new Elf and Dwarf friends that will join us in building a brand new community." I began to press soft kisses to his pale cheeks, tasting his tears while my heart labored to beat normally so he wouldn't feel it skip. "It's the Fourth Age with a whole new beginning for everyone. Some of us are planning to build something sure and strong with love and happiness for all. Some ..." I swallowed hard, "some will be unable to let go of the past and I feel sorry for them. They shall remain shackled to old ways and old feelings while the rest of us move on."
His long-fingered hand came up and shakily traced my lips, stilling them for a moment while our eyes met and spoke silently. His asked if I could still love him when his own father didn't. Mine said that I would love him for the rest of my days. The silence was sad but some of the weight seemed to have lifted from his shoulders.
My anger was still there but it and the Elf who'd caused it were nothing compared to the great love that I felt for his son.
I held him close and rocked him gently. "Our son or daughter will have two loving parents who cherish them for the small miracles that they are. I am sorry that they will have no blood-grandfather to love them and tell them stories about when you were small. But Gandalf has several exciting tales that he has told me and he'll be sure to tell them also. Perhaps about the reason that you love peaches so much?"
His chuckle was weak, nothing but a puff of air exhaled between one shaky breath and the next. But it meant he was coming out of his shock and I rejoiced at the small sign that he was coming back to me.
"And surely, when they play with their Hobbit cousins, Merry will tell them stories about our long, hard journey and how we all became a family." I swallowed my own tears and kept on brushing small kisses over his chin to the corners of his sad mouth.
"A family of the heart." His words were so faint that I almost didn't hear them. "We are ... becoming a family of the heart."
"Yes, beloved, a family of hearts that will make this Age one for the minstrels to sing about." I licked his lips and he opened to me slowly. We kissed for long moments before I pulled far enough away to look at him. His eyes were calmer and his gaze more assured.
"Thank you, my own." He cupped my cheek, his thumb stroking my beard. "I could not endure this pain without the solace of your love. Our children will never know anything but love."
I nodded. "All children should be loved for the bright blessings that they are and ours shall be no different."
He nodded but new tears began to leak and I pulled him close to hold him through his grief. Thranduil had thrown away the love his son bore him, no matter how indifferent a father he had been in the past. My Legolas had so much love to give that it was an ever-flowing fountain of joy. In time perhaps I could forgive the elder Elf, but for now I was content to love his son with all my heart and soul.
I just hoped it would be enough.