|Author: Athea (email@example.com)
Fandom: Lord of the Ring
Title: Beneath it all, part 15
Pairing: Legolas/Gimli, Frodo/Sam, Merry/Pip
Summary: It's time for the bonding ceremonies.
Date: 31 March 2002
The days had been filled with work and we both welcomed it. Legolas still wept silently most nights and he hadn't slept since that horrible moment. He walked everyday in the forest, sometimes with Elrond or with one of his sons. The twins had been staunch friends and he'd cheered up when they asked to join us. They were hard workers who labored with me daily to choose and pack the supplies that we would need to live rough until we had the first few houses built.
Of course, I wanted Legolas and Frodo to have every comfort they needed so some of the items might have been considered a little marginal but not to me. The Elf who shared my life and carried our children deserved everything I could squeeze into our transports. I sighed and shifted the sack of potatoes a little further up in the wagon so the wooden canister of meal sat more securely.
"Gimli, Father would like you to meet him in his room." One of the twins had appeared silently at my side, the way his kind did. "I think it's something about tomorrow."
A smile flitted across my lips, the first of the day. I climbed down from the wagon and dusted off my hands. "Thank you, Elrohir. I appreciate the summons."
"I will finish here. How many wagons are we up to now?" He seldom smiled himself so I was glad to see the faint grin flit across his face.
"Only eighteen for now. Aragorn is sending another twenty or so after us." I hid a broader smile at the theatrical shake of his head. I sighed dolefully and stroked my beard. "We're cutting it very close."
That surprised him into a snort of laughter and I left him, pleased at my efforts to cheer him. We had an ongoing debate on some of the items we were packing. Once they'd learned of the pregnancies, they'd striven to also think of things that would make life easier for their cousin, all the while they moaned and groaned about what a 'real camp' should be like. Some wood and a match for the fire were all that was needed, they declared.
Living rough was what they were used to so their gentle gibes at me were welcomed for the tall tales that we swapped. Legolas had even laughed at one of them, which only spurred us all on to further heights of cajolery. But Elrond was waiting and I hurried to see what he needed. His party was in a different tower but they all knew me by now and the elves in the outer hall welcomed me before sending me into his inner chamber.
The dark Elf stood at the tall window and looked out over the plain. He looked pensive but smiled when he turned to me. "Gimli, thank you for coming. Galadriel and I have everything planned to perfection. Are you sure that you wish to not tell Legolas of the ceremony?"
I shook my head and took the seat he offered me. "Sam and I decided that a surprise would be better. There's been so much sorrow and pain these last two weeks that we want to give them this evening to lighten the separation to come."
He chuckled and rubbed his hands together when he sat down across from me. "I have a surprise or two of my own, my dear Dwarf. My cousin shall not be without some resources of his own in your new settlement. Galadriel has something up her sleeve for the two of you, also."
Pouring me a glass of the brandy that I enjoyed, he gaze came back to me more somber than his words. "I wanted to give you my thanks for your welcome of Elrohir and Elladan. They seem to be ... floundering since the end of the war. It seems that I am fated to lose all my children at one time."
"Nonsense, my Lord Elrond, you're not losing children, you're gaining grandchildren. I'll make a friendly wager that our new royal couple will be gifting you a new generation to love by next May." I sipped my brandy and debated whether or not to say anything about what I saw when I looked at the two famous orc hunters. Would it help or hinder his understanding of his sons? Or his love for them?
His keen eyes narrowed but instead he took my bet. "Ha! Your son or daughter will beat them into Middle-earth so they will be good advisors to their younger cousins. I shall wager 100 peach trees that the four of you all have sons."
I stroked my beard with a weighty hand. "Ah, a most valuable prize, I see. I accept and I shall wager a mithril and moonstone necklace for Queen Arwen, that I shall fashion myself, that we both have twins."
He smiled. "Twins seem to run in our family. I accept. We shall see who wins next February or March. And if there is any need that Rivendell can fill before then, I expect a messenger immediately if not sooner. A invitation to visit would be nice, too."
I laughed out loud at his wistful look. "Nonsense again, my lord. Your sons will welcome you at any time although we may put you to work. How long has it been since you planted a peach tree or put a nice snug roof on a new house?"
Chuckling, he shook his head. "Millennia, friend Gimli, it has been a thousand years or more since I last tackled such a task. But once I planted trees for the sheer joy of the labor, perhaps it is time to recover that happiness. I shall bring you some peach trees that bear Legolas' favorite kind of peaches. I worry that you may be too far north to grow them easily."
That was one of my worries also. "Yes, the land has been very much forgotten except for the heading on our current maps that warn of the Witch-realm of Angmar. The three rivers come down from the mountain so their waters will be chill and yet just south of the Blue Star Mountains are the Ettenmoors where the ground and waters are warm."
"The Varyans guarded their secrets well but it is rumored that they heated their pools with the fires of the earth itself. Perhaps something still lingers there that will show you the way of it." He shook his head and began to discuss the plans for the next afternoon.
I listened and approved of his great care in crafting a bonding ceremony for such an unlikely couple as Legolas and myself. My love would enjoy it even though it would only be the Fellowship and a few friends there to hear our vows. Merry and Pippin were willing conspirators and their contributions were sure to please Frodo with a touch of the Shire.
He might not ever behold those verdant hills again but for a moment or two, I hoped he would feel at home. Coming back to Elrond, I approved it all and got up to leave. I'd been away from my lover for too long. With a slight bow, I excused myself and hurried down the stairs, across two courtyards and up the stairs to our temporary home.
Legolas was sipping a cup of tea at our table with a scroll unrolled before him and a quill pen in his right hand, making notes of his translations. But he set everything down when I locked the door behind me. "Beloved, I'm almost done with this one. What excellent timing on your part."
I chuckled and crossed the room for our second kiss of the day. He slid from the chair to his knees, hugging me close and sharing his raspberry flavored mouth. But not even that herbal tea could disguise his own sweet taste. Our tongues slid lazily together while my hands stroked through the silken hair that grew longer every day. He was going to trim it but I begged him not to.
He indulged me far too much but the feel of those long strands tickling my stomach and thighs were so arousing that I was shameless. And he let me have my way as he did in so much of our life. I was truly the luckiest dwarf in Middle-earth. Drawing back just far enough that I could look at him, I thought perhaps he looked a trifle happier today.
"Did you find anything about delivering babies?" I stroked his cheek and frowned when he shook his head.
"It was too much to hope, my love, that we'd find it in the first manuscript we tried." He smiled at me then looked back to the three round scrolls that still sat unfurled. "Perhaps tomorrow the second scroll will yield its secrets to us."
"Tomorrow is a holiday, Legolas and there will be no work done of any kind." I told him quickly.
"Really, what holiday is this, Gimli?" He stood gracefully then rubbed the small of his back. Gandalf had explained that his internal organs were being moved to make room for the babies and the muscles of his back were being strained.
"One that Sam and I just invented and King Aragorn approved." I laid my hands on his back and slowly massaged the tense muscles into relaxing. "We're going to have a picnic in the woods with all the Fellowship and our friends. We're thinking of calling it a Day of Independence from Work. It's the last time we'll be together for long moons."
"Dear Gimli, you and Sam think of the most delightful schemes." He smiled down at me and accepted my glib explanation. Luckily, Sam and I had already decided on our cover story.
"Cook Tarheel has promised us a magnificent feast and you'll be able eat all of it."
He chuckled and stretched. "I will do my best, love. I've been thinking about the journey and beginning to plan for the future. The past is behind us," he faltered then knelt before me, those beautiful eyes gazing into mine. "Thank you for your steadfast love, Gimli. I will no longer grieve for what might have been but instead rejoice in our bright future."
I blinked back tears of relief. "Dearest Legolas, I am glad to hear it. We'll have the very best future that we can build. Starting with our picnic tomorrow. Now, how about a long hot bath so I can wash your hair?"
"Lovely idea, beloved, and I can wash yours." He kissed me gently and rose to his feet.
I was a little nervous but I think I pulled it off because of Merry and Pip's antics. They were in on the secret and their practical jokes had most of our party roaring with laughter. Even Galadriel laughed at Pip's imitation of Celeborn. Her husband suffered it gladly if his chuckles were any indication. Our party numbered almost fifty and I was proud that Balic and the five other dwarves from the Blue Mountains had agreed to come to witness our bonding.
He'd been surprised when I asked him and the others were shocked down to their boots that I'd been named Elf-friend and chosen an Elf for my mate. Sometimes I thought I saw pity in their eyes and perhaps at one time I would have felt the same. But not now that I'd fought along side of my brave Elf companion and tasted his sweetness. Indeed, I pitied them for their distrust of all things Elven.
Of course, a few of the Elves that came with Elrond and the others felt the same way about Legolas. Flixen had busily spread the word about the fall and disinheritance of the Prince of Mirkwood. I still had the urge to rend him limb from limb but he was a canny one and stayed out of my sight. Elrond had told me that he'd take care of him and the hard glint in his eye when he said that assured me that the insult would be avenged.
But for now, Arwen was coaxing my lover to sing one of the songs he sang at her wedding and he obliged her while Aragorn looked on with a happy smile. Faramir strode dreamily through the woods, lost in his own dreams of his wedding to the Lady Eowyn to come. Rheanas kept a close eye on both Legolas and Frodo but so far neither of them showed the least sign of nausea.
We'd all feel better when those symptoms went away. I watched the golden head before me, the silken ribbons flowing among his own delicate strands and still thought him the fairest of them all. Not even the Lady Galadriel was that beautiful and I realized, not for the first time, how very lucky I was that this bright being loved me.
His song came to a close and he accepted the praise with a rather bashful nod. I'd long since decided that what I'd thought was the arrogance of a haughty Elf, was simply the knowledge of what he was good at. Shooting a bow, running for hours through forests filled with danger, translating old scrolls and loving me, that was simple pride in good workman like abilities.
Thank the Lady. I would never take that that last ability for granted. Starting today, he would always be my first thought and my last. Forever if that was possible, I mused but my thoughts were broken when Sam sidled up beside me and whispered in my ear.
"Do you have them?" He sounded like he was short of air, his nervousness palpable.
"Yes, safe and sound." I patted the leather pouch that hung from my belt. "Do you want yours now?"
"No, no that's all right. I'm so nervous that I'd probably drop and lose them." His eyes went right back to Frodo, the way that mine kept going to Legolas. "I'm real glad that we're doing this first. My stomach's that tied up in knots that I wouldn't be able to eat a bite and it all smells so good."
I chuckled and took a good sniff. "You're right, Sam. The sooner we get finished, the sooner we can eat. I just hope they can eat more than bread and broth today."
"Yes, indeed." Sam sighed happily then dropped his voice again. "Gimli, have you noticed any ... changes in Legolas?"
"Other than a slight mound where his flat stomach used to be, nothing much." I loved stroking that smooth skin and feeling the minute changes that were beginning to occur.
"Yes, Frodo's is too. I wish I wasn't going to miss so much while I'm gone." His sigh was heavy and I thanked the Havens that I would be right by my lover's side for the next two moons.
"You will hurry there and back again so that before you know it, you'll be hugging him close. And you'll never have to leave him again." I caught a raised eyebrow from my love and shook my head. I could handle poor Sam's fears for the moment. "Just think of that and stay focused on reassuring the fears of the Shire about all the changes that have occurred in the world outside those hills and valleys."
"It will be good to see them again but better when I see Frodo all safe and feeling better. Oh, we're here." He left me for Frodo's side, the other two hobbits joining him.
I closed ranks with my lover and took his hand while Elrond made for the lovely bower that the Elves had woven of slender wands and vines. I felt Legolas give a start and I tugged him down to my level so I could look into his eyes. "I love you and I want to bond with you in front of our family and friends. Will you?"
"Oh, Gimli, my dearest love, of course I will. My most clever and valiant love, what a wonderful surprise you planned." His eyes were filled with tears but these were joyful and I thanked the One for them.
"My friends, we are gathered here to witness the bonding of two loving couples." Elrond's strong voice rang out while we four joined him in the small bower. "The Fellowship that set out a year ago has come together to rejoice at the ending of one age and the beginning of another. And this new age heralds many changes, not the least of which is the friendship that grew to love between our friend Gimli and cousin Legolas."
He paused and Legolas sank down to his knees beside me while I too, knelt. "Now, they wish to bond together to celebrate that love and the family that will grow from it. Gimli, what say you to Legolas?"
I brought his hands to my lips and kissed each one, my eyes never leaving his. "I love you through darkness and light. I will love and cherish you with all the joy in my heart for as long as we live."
"Beloved Gimli, I will love you through happiness and pain, cherishing you with all the joy in my heart forever."
We leaned forward at the same moment and kissed tenderly before drawing apart. Elrond beamed on us. "I believe there is a token of your bond to be given."
I pulled out the small gilt box that I'd made in secret. Nestled within it were two pairs of mithril hoops set with rose cut diamonds. I handed Sam the box after I removed the pair that I'd made for us. Holding them up so the light caught them, I listened to the company's little gasp at their glow.
"These shine no brighter than your beauty, Legolas. May they always shine as a symbol for our love." I leaned forward and closed the sharpened end against his earlobe, watching the small bead of blood well for an instant then be reabsorbed. Gandalf had promised that there would be no pain for my love and it seemed to be working.
"Like the bright light of our love, they will always remind us of the hope that comes even in the middle of despair. Oh beloved!" His hands shook for a moment but then the sharp end pierced my ear and it was done. He leaned in and kissed me not at all gently while I savored the connected feeling that seemed stronger at this moment.
"Well done. Now, Sam and Frodo wish us to also witness their bonding ceremony. Sam?" Elrond's voice brought us apart in time to see Sam take both of Frodo's hands in his.
"I love you, Frodo. Not all the journeys in the world will ever take me from your side, not ever again. It took a long time for me to realize that I loved you more than life itself but I do. Will you bond with me and let me love you forever?" His brave voice trembled a little but he knelt in front of his lover with his head up.
"I love you, too, my wonderful Sam." Frodo sniffed a little but his smile was luminous as he knelt before Sam. "Without you, I would be a very lonely hobbit. You brighten my life with your common sense and without your bravery, I wouldn't be here today. Yes, I will bond with you and love you forever and ever."
Sam's hands shook a little but he brushed aside Frodo's curls and closed the earring over the tender lobe. Then it was Frodo's turn and Sam shivered at the first bite of the mithril but then they were kissing while Elrohir and Elladan sang our bonding songs together in a duet of surpassing beauty.
Our well-wishers were many but finally everyone had shaken our hands and the picnic baskets were opened. As the bonding couples, we had the center blanket with the Fellowship members and their families around us and the others scattered among the edges.
It was a party that we would all remember for a very long time.