|Author: Athea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: Building the Future, part 5
Summary: A swim leads to a revelation.
Date: 16 June 2002
The weather continued hot and sultry so it was a pleasure going to work in the tunnels of White Cap. It was good to work with Gimli again, mining the old mountain for the minerals and ores that Friendly needed. Balik and Reason worked along side of us usually but one afternoon, I found myself alone. Whistling while I tapped on a nice vein of copper ore, I took some samples to smelt at the farrier's forge that Gimli had built in one of the upper caves.
It was cooler than it would have been in the village with nothing to dissipate the heat of the forge's fire. I was working on a christening cup for Pip and Merry's youngster but we always needed more copper pipe for water runs to the new houses we were building so I gathered enough samples to test for purity and made my way up to the forge. Balik was working on sharpening axes and he nodded a greeting but kept on working.
He always was a silent one but I was used to that and got to work making the fire hotter to melt the samples into their component parts. Metallurgy was as much an art for me as it was a science. Others wished to work only with the precious metals like gold, silver and mithril but as Legolas had said so pithily, 'a well made iron cooking pot is just as beautiful as a mithril tiara and ten times more useful.'
Thinking about him reminded me that I'd left before the twins had awakened so I hadn't had my share of hugs for the day. Whistling again, I lowered the samples into the fire to see what else lurked inside the greenish gray rocks. An hour later, I'd made a few notes about the nickel content and tidied up the forge so I could go home. Calling goodbye to Balik, I began the walk down to the village.
And as usual, Lorrin appeared beside me at the entrance of the tunnel where I emerged from darkness into the light. He was almost as silent as Balik but that was all right. I told him where I'd been, what I'd found, how I'd tested the ore and what my conclusions were. He listened intently and nodded once before telling me what we'd be having for dinner, stuffed quail, asparagus with wine sauce, potato fritters and cherry pie for dessert.
I was starving and practically drooling by the time he finished describing it. I threatened him with torture but he just smiled a little and said that Glimmer had attempted his first crawl. I picked up the pace so I could get home quicker. The sooner I washed up the sooner I could go find my grandson. He went in with me and sat waiting while I removed the heavy shirt I needed for inside the mountain and sluiced off the worst of the sweat. That felt wonderful and I decided to ask him to braid my hair back the way Gimli had taken to wearing his.
He swore it was much cooler and I could see how it might be. I dried my face and wondered if it might not be wise to trim my beard also. The babies' soft skin was easily scratched especially in this hot weather. Perhaps just for the summer? I turned my head from side to side and tried to picture how I'd look without so much face hair.
"Lorrin, do you think I should trim my beard?" I called out.
He appeared silently and leaned gracefully against the doorjamb. "It would be cooler and not so scratchy."
"Yes-s-s," I combed through it with my fingers and gave a heavy sigh. "All right, get me the scissors, please."
He chuckled once and disappeared, only to reappear with the scissors I kept in the front room. Handing them over, he hesitated behind me. "I could braid your hair the way Gimli has his?"
"Please, I was just going to ask you." I said to his reflection in the mirror above the sink.
While he combed out my hair, I started snipping away. Really, it didn't look too bad, I thought while cutting a little more then yet more. Finally it was only about an inch long everywhere and I gathered up the long strands to throw away. I was feeling cooler all ready.
Lorrin finished braiding my hair and I looked at myself in the mirror. "Not so bad for an old Dwarf, eh Lorrin?"
"You are but a child still, my friend." He chuckled and rested his hands on my bare shoulders. I'd forgotten that I was half-naked and I brushed through my thick chest hair to make sure the snips of beard hadn't gotten caught in the black and silver curls.
"Why don't you find a cooler shirt while I take care of the . . . remains?" He asked quietly and I gladly gave the tangled pieces to him before heading into my bedroom. Legolas had gifted me with several light linen shirts in summer colors instead of my usual black and I pulled one of them from the clothes cupboard that I'd commissioned from Merry. He was going to be a master woodsman one of these days.
We'd done a swap with me making all the cooking pans that Pippin wanted in exchange for the cupboard that I'd needed. We were all quite satisfied with our trade. Most of the work in Friendly was done that way, at least among ourselves. Several of the traders that came through had taken some of our goods on contract and also lists of items we needed that we couldn't make ourselves.
Although those items were few and far between these days. We'd grown quite self-sufficient and that was a good feeling. I smiled while tucking in my tan shirt. I was enjoying myself for the first time in a decade. The war years had taken most of the pleasure of living away and it was good to feel the simple delight in making cooking pots and pipes for hot water.
Going out into the front room, I found Lorrin waiting in the wing chair. He no longer sat on the edge of the cushion as if ready to take flight but sat back and tucked a leg under him in careless comfort. That was good to see as well, we'd grown into friends as odd as that might have seemed to the old Gloin, who'd set out six months before to find his son and talk some sense into him.
"Ready for dinner?" I asked and he rose with the same grace that Legolas always showed. Dwarf bodies aren't made that way and I envied his fluid gait. He quirked his head at me in question and I shook myself free of the odd thought. We joined a few of our neighbors who were also headed for the dining hall and Lorrin went quiet the way he usually did with anyone not in our family group.
Family group, I paused at the odd phrasing my mind had supplied to me. Did I think of him as family? Remembering how he'd reached inside of Legolas and delivered small Glimmer, I realized that I did think of him as part of our family. At the very least, he was my friend and I never thought that I'd have an Elf for a friend. But as we entered the dining hall and I caught sight of Legolas, I'd never thought to have an Elf for a son, either.
But I wouldn't trade him for the world or the babies that he'd given Gimli, who was looking at me with openmouthed shock. I preened for him, turning my head from side to side so he could get the whole effect. Legolas was laughing at me and holding Glimmer up to see me. That little sprite didn't care about my hair, he just wanted a hug and I took him from my elven son's hands to give him what he wanted. He cooed for me and patted my face with baby hands.
I refuse to talk baby talk to them but I have been known to make funny noises to make them laugh. Glimmer particularly likes my duck squawk so I made sure that I teased his tummy while he giggled over and over.
"Papa, you look very nice and much cooler." Legolas smiled at me and drew out my chair so I could sit down beside him. "Did you braid your hair yourself?"
"Nope, son, Lorrin did a good job, didn't he?" I handed Glimmer back to him and took Pharin from my other son. She most definitely approved of my short beard, patting my cheeks and cooing to me with her sweet voice.
"A most excellent job, Lorrin." Gimli said slowly and sat down on my other side while the elder Elf sat just beyond him.
"He will find it cooler in this heat." Lorrin said softly and I noticed that he had taken the seat he usually took, the one with his back to the wall. He had to be the most vigilant body I'd ever known but then maybe he'd had to be over the long years of cursed Angmar and his demon brood.
Dinner was delicious, as always and the hum of conversation rose and fell with the courses. Pip was looking rather tired and a little over-heated so Merry was fussing a bit. Frodo commiserated with him over the kicks that the baby was giving him. Sam mentioned that their backyard lily pond was nice and cool if they wanted to soak for a bit. Of course, he told them that they couldn't disturb the water lilies he had planted.
Lorrin's soft voice seconded the idea, saying that it wouldn't hurt the baby at all and would make Pip more comfortable. Merry accepted with a sigh of relief and they made plans to have a soak after dinner. I mulled over the idea of taking a swim in the river to cool off myself.
"How about a swim in the Lesta, children?" I asked Gimli hopefully.
"My love, what do you think? It would be nice and cool." Gimli looked at Legolas who was discretely nursing Glimmer while trying to finish his peach cobbler.
"I think it's a wonderful idea. We can use the little cove near the foothills and be quite private." He smiled at us all and I beamed at him.
"Good, it's about time we began teaching the babies to swim. I don't ever want to worry about their safety in the water." I finished my own cobbler and contemplated licking the bowl. Jallico really is an inspired cook.
It wasn't long afterwards that we walked the Hobbits to Sam and Frodo's home then moved on to the small cove where the willows shaded the river. We turned the sign that we'd stuck on the path to 'in use' so we didn't have to worry about any of the others disturbing our privacy. Even in this heat, most of the village enjoyed the warm water spa half way between the stables and the archives.
Once in the cove, I undressed while watching my sons dither over the temperature of the water. Shaking my head, I slipped off my boots and peeled my breeches off my sticky legs. The fresh water was calling my name and I slipped into the cool shallows with a sigh of relief. Lorrin waded out before diving into the deeper water and swimming away like one of the silver fish that had swarmed the river a month earlier.
Legolas and Gimli joined me, each holding one of my grandchildren. The first touch of cool water brought a torrent of splashing from both of them. It was still a bit of a shock to see those long golden limbs of my Elven son. But seated beside Gimli their differences in height paled at the contrast between Gimli's dark hair and Legolas' blond. I chuckled at the giggles that were erupting from the children.
Lorrin swam back to us and stood waist deep with a smile on his face. "They have no fear of the water. That's good. Try floating Glimmer on his back."
Gimli and I watched anxiously while Legolas gently laid the little boy into the water with his hands curved protectively beneath. The baby seemed to like it, his little hands splashing the water a bit. There was water in his ears but that didn't seem to bother him. His little legs began to move and he abruptly sank below the surface. Legolas brought him back up immediately and he scrunched up his face, letting loose a sputtering cry.
"There, there, Glimmer. It's all right, little one. You're fine." Legolas said softly and the baby quieted at once. "Let's try it again."
I chuckled and left them to it, getting up and making my way out to where Lorrin stood. Together we swam up the river for a while then floated on our backs for long, blissful moments. I thought about the Blue Mountains and my life before I came to Friendly. There was nothing that I missed except for a few friends but here I had family.
Here I had satisfying work, a growing family and a home I'd made my own. It wasn't what I'd expected to find after so many years living with my dwarven kin. Here is where I would live out my remaining years, watching my grandchildren grow up and helping Friendly grow. That felt very good indeed and I smiled at the blue sky above me while I let the cool currents waft me down the river.
"Time to go back, Gloin. The weather is about to change." Lorrin's voice came a little muffled through the water to me.
I blinked and righted myself, treading water and eyeing a couple of clouds that had moved in while I was daydreaming. "Bad weather?"
"A summer thunderstorm, no more. But swimming is not recommended." Lorrin smiled at me and began swimming with flashing brown arms back to the cove.
I followed since I had no desire to have the babies caught out in a storm. By the time we'd reached them, the two clouds had become a hundred and a few towered high in the sky. Gimli and Legolas were all ready dressed and looking anxiously towards the river. They greeted us with relieved smiles and we sent them home, telling them not to wait for us.
Drying off with my shirt, I pulled my pants up over damp legs and stamped my feet into my boots. Lorrin seemed to slide into his clothes with ease and I sighed at his graceful movements, wondering if this was what Gimli felt when he looked at Legolas. Elves and Dwarves were so different that I wondered why it seemed our family was drawn to them.
I blinked once then looked down to button my shirt.
Drawn? I fumbled with the buttons and felt the first drop of rain plop on my head.
"We're about to get even wetter, Gloin." Lorrin's voice was amused and I looked up to see the biggest smile I'd ever seen on his thin face.
"I've always enjoyed walking in the rain, my friend." I replied and gave up buttoning in favor of walking quickly down the path while my thoughts chased after me.
He kept pace with me and I watched him out of the corner of my eye. His hair was still neatly tucked into his braid and I wondered what mine looked like. It slapped against my back but then Lorrin's was, too. His body was whipcord lean compared to my thick, compact shape. He was a good foot taller than me but that wasn't so bad since Legolas had two foot on my son.
I'm pretty garrulous while he's one of the quietest people I know. His violet eyes darted to me and caught me looking. His eyebrow went up in a silent question and I shook my head once. I wasn't ready to share my current thoughts just yet. I told myself that I was imagining things. I was a widower with a grown son and two grandchildren. I had absolutely no business wondering what those thin lips would taste like.
Or if he was a silent lover?
We passed Gimli and Legolas' home and my breath seemed more labored than it should. Another few yards and we were at my door. I eyed it and took a deep breath. "Come in for a cup of tea, Lorrin?"
A rain drenched face looked back at me, his body might as well have been naked since his shirt stuck to him like a second skin. "A cup of tea would be nice."
"Good." I swallowed hard and opened my front door. I was going to take my time and see if I was really feeling what I thought I was feeling. "I'll get us a couple of towels if you'll put on the hot water."
"Yes," he disappeared into the kitchen and I headed for the bathroom with a few butterflies flapping in my stomach.
What was I thinking? I was too old to be worrying about taking a lover.