|Author: Athea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: New Beginnings, part seven
Summary: New settlers arrive and the investigation proceeds.
Date: 20 April 2002
My headache subsided within two days but Legolas was loath to let me out of his sight so I didn't return to the mountain right away. Balik and the others did some poking around and they told me privately that several of the timbers had been weakened then an ax taken to one of the main supports. They also caught a whiff of the exploding powder that Dwarves used occasionally for blasting open new veins of ore. So the ghost was right, it was no accident. I looked at my fellow settlers with a new eye, trying to see who might dislike me so much that he would attempt murder.
But no one seemed to be anything but shocked at the 'accident'. Things had begun to settle a bit when we got a host of new people ready to move in. A caravan from Rivendell arrived with supplies, the elderly Elf archivist Clothile and his Elf assistant Rafen. And from Gondor came a Man, Master Weaver Matso with his whole family, all seven of them.
We rushed to finish one of the houses that was weather tight but not yet complete. It took two more days but they moved in and set up their looms after we warmed the three- bedroom house up. The archivist moved into the small room in the library once we moved the jars to just outside his door. His assistant took the third bedroom of Jallico's house so we really were full now.
Matso's wife Tilly was a jolly soul and their five daughters, all under the age of twenty, were great fun. Everybody seemed to perk up with the new arrivals and I know that Frodo and Legolas were looking forward to opening those mysterious jars. My lover insisted on walking over to the library everyday so I went with him at least at first. I was praying that the scrolls would talk about males having babies.
Clothile introduced finely made cotton gloves with which the scrolls were to be handled and several other odd practices. But they seemed to work and the first jar was opened successfully. It held fourteen scrolls and every table held at least two of them with paper and pen nearby so notes could be made. They were all in ancient Elvish but Frodo wrote for Legolas while Rafen wrote for Clothile. I tried not to be impatient at their slow pace but every day brought their birthing date that much closer and I feared for my lover.
We all agreed that medical scrolls would be the first translated and several others were put aside for later so they could concentrate on the scrolls that might bring us the knowledge we sought. No one was permitted in the library now so they could keep their work as clean and dust free as possible. While Legolas' attention was firmly fixed on his research, I was finally able to start my investigation. Having tried once and failed the assassin, whoever he was, might just try again.
I knew it was none of the Hobbits so I took them into my confidence while Frodo was at the library. Explaining what we thought had happened within the mountain, I asked their assistance in finding the unbalanced soul who had tried murder. They were shocked but eager to help and we split up the original settlers so each of us could try to find out where the others had been on the day of the cave-in.
Another week passed and we'd managed to eliminate a handful of settlers. Rheanas had been helping his wife unpack their belongings. Jallico and Pip had been working together on the lunch meal. Merry and Suttle, a Man from Rohan who liked to work with wood, had spent most of the morning selecting and cutting wood for a rocking chair for Frodo. Sam had been working in the stables with another Man from Rohan named Bix. So that let all of them out.
We still had 23 to go. I wanted to eliminate my fellow Dwarves but the three of them had been in different parts of the settlement with no one to alibi them. The twins should have been eliminated also but they'd been off hunting. Of course, they'd brought home two fine deer so I was hopeful that let them out. It was frustrating and with Gandalf off on another trip, we couldn't just put a truth spell on everybody.
Our ghost was nowhere to be found even though we all searched diligently again. The melting snow held no prints and I had the sinking feeling that he was playing with us. I went over and over in my mind the few things he'd said while rescuing me. He'd said 'your prince' to me. Did that mean that he wasn't an Elf or did it mean that he realized how much I loved the beautiful Prince of the Vestella?
My poor head was aching again the way it seemed to do all too often these days. I trudged home from a shift in the mountain with Balik and Merry. The Halfling had expressed an interest in where the marble ore came from that we were using in our homes. I had half a suspicion that he was guarding me in case Balik proved to be the culprit.
At the moment, I'd take all the help I could get. Even the damn ghost would be gratefully received if he'd only show up again. Opening the front door of my new home, I took a deep sniff of something wonderful. Legolas appeared with a smile and a hug while I tried to think what the occasion might be.
"Beloved, we are dining in tonight after I give you a nice hot bath." He deftly removed my cloak and gloves while dropping a kiss on my head. "I'd help you take off your boots but I can't bend that far any longer."
I chuckled and took a moment to kiss his swelling belly before sitting down to remove my boots. "Hello, little ones, go to sleep while your parents celebrate the end of another day."
"That's not all we're celebrating, Gimli." He smiled mysteriously and stroked my hair. "If you haven't figured it out by the time we go to bed, I'll tell you then."
Well, that put me on my mettle and I tried to think what might have happened that was worth celebrating. Not that every day with him wasn't a celebration of life and love, I decided and wiggled my toes in the entry rug before joining him in the front room. "Is it an anniversary or something new that just happened?"
He chuckled and led me into the bathroom where the hot water was already steaming. "It is both a one year anniversary and something new."
"You found mention of male pregnancy in one of the scrolls?" I started taking off my clothes while he slipped off his new silky blue robe from Elrond's shipment and walked down into the filled tub.
"Not yet, my love, but we did find some conception recipes that look promising." He turned to watch me undress and held out his hand in invitation. "Come to me, Gimli, and let me bathe away your long day."
He should have looked ungainly, standing there with the growing mound before him but all I could see was his inherent grace. I stepped down to him with a sigh of relief and ducked myself so I was wet all over. He chuckled and began to lather my hair with the special soap that Jallico had made from one of the Varyan recipes. We would need an apothecary soon with all of the new information we were discovering.
But at the moment all I could do was relax under the massaging fingers of my talented mate. I felt light as air when he pulled me back and rinsed the light green suds from my hair. A faint smell of winterberry filled the room and I breathed it in like a magic potion that would revive me. And his clever hands made sure that all of me was revived. I was hard as iron by the time I took custody of the soap and returned the favor.
He was slower to arouse now that his body was changing so quickly but that just gave me more time to keep touching him. We were both squeaky clean by the time we left our bath. I trailed him into our bedroom and he turned me around, slipping something soft and silky around me. I felt the heavy material slide over my skin and wrap me in warmth. I looked down at the crimson robe then back at him with a question in my eyes.
"I gave Elrond your measurements before we left Rivendell and asked him to have it made. Clothile brought it with him when he came." Legolas pulled on his robe, cut like mine around him, the strong blue matching the color of his eyes. "Do you like it?"
He sounded almost diffident, as if he might have overstepped some boundary. I pulled him down to our bed, rolled him towards me and hugged him tight. "I love it and I love how beautifully you take care of me, beloved."
Smiling, he leaned in and kissed me. If I could have gotten closer to him right then, I would have but alas, there was no more room. And that's when I felt it, a tiny flutter that tapped against my skin. His lips curved upward, breaking our kiss and smiling down at me. I moved my lips down to the right side of his stomach and waited. The flutter seemed stronger against my lips and I felt hot tears well.
"It started this afternoon." Legolas' voice was soft and dreamy. "Just a twitch at first then a flutter that brought my work on the current scroll to a halt. I was so jealous of Frodo when he told me of their child's movement. But he felt it too and rejoiced with me. I think perhaps that they will have their babies first. Elves usually gestate for twelve months but Rhea told me that Dwarves only carry their young for ten. Perhaps we will split the difference."
I tried hard to get my emotions under control. But each time I thought I had, that little movement would remind me that it was our child I was feeling and I'd tear up again. New life was growing right here within the Elf that I loved. That was such a miracle that I could hardly catch my breath. Finally, I gulped hard and spoke.
"Beloved Legolas, I don't tell you enough how very glad I am that you love me. It's really going to happen, isn't it? We're really going to have our own children." I left a hand on the spot and kissed my way back up to his smiling lips.
"Beloved Gimli, I am blessed with your love and your gift of seed. These babies will be born healthy and strong. And I will survive to love you forever." He kissed me sweetly and the baby thrummed his approval of our embrace with an almost continuous flutter before falling silent.
I pulled away in dismay only to have Legolas laugh at me. "He's just gone to sleep, my love. There's no sign of the other one yet. I can hardly wait until she begins to move."
"Oh, so this one is a 'he'?" I smiled at him.
He tilted his head thoughtfully, his hair falling almost across his face in a curtain of golden silk. Possessively, I tucked it back behind that delicately pointed ear. Legolas nodded, still thinking about my question. "For some reason, I think that the first to move is our son, Glimmer."
The sound of his name caught me like a blow to my stomach. Glimmer, son of Gimli ... and Legolas, he was only a flutter now but soon he would be someone I could hold in my hands. "Dear heart."
He seemed to understand. "I know, my love. They are very real to me, even now when all they are is a weight that swells my body and presses on my bladder. Once Tilly got over the shock of seeing a pregnant male, she and I sat down and talked about what is to come. I look forward with some trepidation to the changes she detailed."
His rueful smile and fond caress to the silken covered mound told me without words of his joy and concern. "If there is anything that I can do to help, some way to help ease your way, then you must tell me at once."
"Of course I will, beloved. Now, let me up so we can have our dinner and you can guess what one year anniversary this is." Laughing, he accepted my help off the bed but kept my hand in his all the way out to the cozy nest that he'd created in front of our hearth.
I pretended to think hard, all the while memorizing the way he looked in the firelight. "Last November we were at Rivendell just learning about each other and the quest of the ring. Frodo was healing nicely and we were rather squaring off whenever we met."
He chuckled and handed me a bowl of my favorite vegetable soup, leeks and carrots. "Do you remember a day when you were walking among the trees and came across a small garden?"
Of course I did. "It was a pretty little garden that was meant for utility rather than beauty. A vegetable garden, well tended and still with a carrot or two for a hungry dwarf."
"A garden meant for cooking rather than beauty." He agreed. "And unfortunately with a few weeds marring its ordered rows. You began to remove them, making a tidy pile of dead growth all the while sifting through the rich soil. The sun was on your face and you smiled when you plucked a carrot from its winter bed."
"And that's when I looked up and saw you." I could still feel the shock that had rippled through my body. "You glowed in the sunlight, so beautiful and ethereal that you didn't look ... real."
"And that is when I first saw you as a person rather than just a dwarf who would be a companion on our journey." He smiled and kissed a drop of broth from my lips. "That first conversation that we shared over the carrots is one of my dearest memories. I pulled it out sometimes when the journey grew harder and I realized that I was falling in love with you."
"Beloved." I exchanged my soup bowl for his sweet kiss, sharing our taste until we had to breathe. "I thought that I was the only one who remembered that conversation. I didn't know what to make of you then but already there was a little ache in my heart because I could find nothing in me to attract your attention."
He sat the rolls down and lifted my chin to gaze into my eyes. "Your beauty shines from your great heart, Gimli. Never doubt that my attention will remain firmly fixed on you."
I blushed a bit but nodded. "And my love is always yours, Legolas. Through good or bad, I will always cherish you."
We went back to eating, making a game out of feeding each other a special tidbit from the venison or the cooked leeks. My love simmered nicely inside of me and I knew that in a very little while, I'd take him back to bed and make slow, passionate love to him. It would be a good way to celebrate the anniversary of our first real meeting, the first step on the road of the journey that brought us here -- here to our home, our family and our future.
May we have many more such anniversaries.
I listened to their murmured memories and remembered my own early days of love. I was slowly warming to this Dwarf, beginning to see what the beautiful Prince saw in him. Their love was still a mystery to me but that it was there was plain to see. They were indeed something new in Middle-earth even to my ancient eyes. And that reminded me that it had been two days since I last checked on the Man who had planned Gimli's death.
Soundlessly leaving the eaves of their home, I moved swiftly through the damp treetops to the house where he lived. Once in the attic, I found him in his room, filled with the tools of his trade. He was hunched over a small table, herbs laid out before him in rows while he searched through a well-worn book. I named the plants to myself while he muttered grimly.
Rhubarb leaf, feverfew, wormwood, southernwood, mugwort, rue and yarrow.
Dear Havens, he was planning to terminate the Prince's pregnancy. Any of those herbs would cause cramping and stimulate a female's body to shed the lining of their womb. What they would do to a pregnant male was unknown to me. I would need to be vigilant over the next few days. I would not allow any harm to come to my new liege-lord or to the burgeoning life that he carried within him.
Perhaps it was time to take a more active role?