Author: Athea (
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: Building the Future, part 3
Pairing: Gimli/Legolas, Frodo/Sam, Merry/Pip
Summary: Another anniversary arrives.
Date: 2 June 2002

I finished fitting the fireplace surround into the wall and checked to make sure it was level. Papa was on the other side doing the same thing and eventually we both stepped back to smile at one another. The last bit of our work was done and now Pfister and Nanala could move out of my father's house and into their own. He looked pretty happy about that and I couldn't help speculating on why.

"So, Papa, what will you do first once they move out?" I sent him an expectant smile.

"Take a hot bath and wander through the house naked." He said with a satisfied grin.

I couldn't help but laugh at the unexpected answer. "No, really, what will you do?"

"Exactly what I said, son. I plan to spend at least a day cooling off without fear that I'm going to shock somebody. You might want to think about that yourself. I expect Legolas might welcome a day of fun after all his hard work finishing the translating of the last of the scrolls from the first jar. And your bonding anniversary is coming up in three days." He reminded me with a smile and a wink.

"I know, I know. After May Day, I made a mental note to never again forget any of our important days. But I don't know what he wants to do and the hot springs are too hot in this heat." I was racking my brains to come up with something that would show my dearest love how much I loved him.

Papa crossed to shake me and pull my beard. "Ask him, Gimli! Don't try to be subtle. That never works with you and you know it. Just ask him how he'd like to spend the day."

I grinned sheepishly and nodded. He spoke true. "All right, I'll ask."

"Good. Now, let's go give them the good news and help them move." He headed for the front door at a fast clip and I hurried to catch up with him.

The last month had seen the family dynamics change quite a bit. For a week or more, Legolas had been quiet and rather sad. Unpacking the two trunks that were filled with the things from his life before had been hard on him and I'd tried to stay close to give my support. He shared little stories about some of the items and I looked appreciatively at his treasures.

The woven wall hanging of a mallorn tree had made him cry when he unrolled it. I held him close and rocked him the way I did our children. He sniffed a little and told me that his mother had woven it for his fifth birthday so he'd always have one of his favorite trees near him to keep him safe. Once he calmed, I let him go and went to pound a couple of nails into the wall opposite our bed. He hung it up without a word and kissed me sweetly while we sat on the foot of the bed and looked at the shimmering gold and silver design.

Not all of the items made him cry, indeed, several of them made him shout with laughter. The one that I treasured the most was the small bow and quiver that Pfister had made for him when he was small. It was so tiny compared to the bow he drew today that it looked like a toy. But the arrows were as sharp and deadly as his big ones were now and I smiled at the thought of the small Elf that he had been.

We hung them high on the wall over the bed in the nursery and occasionally, I'd see Pharin's eyes focused on them. I looked forward to watching Legolas teach our children how to shoot. It would be a while since they'd just mastered rolling over and were still faintly surprised sometimes to find themselves on their stomachs instead of their backs. Just thinking of them made me want to hurry to the archives and pick them up.

But our front door was open and I could hear Legolas singing from within so Papa and I detoured inside out of the early July heat. My beautiful Elf was stripped to his short pants, nursing Pharin while Glimmer lay on his lap and they rocked in the rocking chair. There wasn't a nursemaid in sight and I smiled at the beautiful picture they made. But I must have made some sound because he looked up and smiled.

Crossing the room, I kissed him softly and stilled the lullaby for a moment. He tasted of peaches so I knew that another trading party had made it in to Friendly. Ending the kiss, I chuckled at Pharin's open-eyed stare. "Hello, sweetheart, is your lunch good?"

She let go of the nipple for a moment to smile at me then went back to sucking in her noon milk. But Glimmer wanted more than a smile and I lifted him into my arms for his own kiss. He giggled at the tickle of my beard and I nuzzled into his neck while he laughed and laughed. He was the happiest baby I'd ever known but then I'd known so few babies that I didn't know if he was normal or not.

I didn't say that out loud though since Legolas and my father thought them perfect in every way. My thoughts were scattered when Glimmer was plucked from my arms by his grandfather. I smiled while I looked about me. I was truly blessed with riches.

"Legolas, what would you like to do for our bonding anniversary?"

Those sparkling blue eyes smiled into mine. "Frodo and I want to take a full day's trip to the bend in the Shanon. Sam says there's a small pool there with willow trees overlooking it where we can have a picnic, a swim and just enjoy the beautiful day. Jallico said he'd fix us a feast to take with us. You must come too, Papa."

Gloin chuckled. "I'd love to help you celebrate. A picnic in July sounds perfect, doesn't it Glimmer?"

Our son squealed at being tickled and Pharin joined in from Legolas' shoulder where he was burping her. The picnic party soon expanded to include the entire settlement and we found ourselves spectators to our own anniversary. But the holiday mood was catching and everyone looked forward to an entire day of eating, swimming and telling tales. Pip and Jallico spent all their time concocting enough food to satisfy all appetites even though the Hobbit was just then getting over the nausea of his fifth month.

Merry said that he'd taken to drinking raspberry tea every time he sat down. Legolas consoled him with the thought that it would be over before the snow flew. Pip had grown quickly and had begun to show several weeks before. Merry doted on him as did we all and he stayed cheerful through the changes in his body, turning some of his experiences into funny tales. They'd written to their families inviting them to come and visit but so far had heard nothing.

The morning of our anniversary dawned bright and clear. We'd already made several trips to the bend in the Shanon with supplies but we had still more last minute items to take with us to make the day more pleasant. Legolas made sure that we left a written message on the door of the dining hall to let any surprise visitors know where we all were. Once we began walking, Friendly emptied completely.

We had 64 settlers now and I expected more before summer was over. I was a little worried about Gandalf for he had been missing for three months and Legolas had agreed that Elrond needed to be alerted. The last traders through had been a family of gypsies who'd brought word of mysterious lights in the skies and rumors of people disappearing from town and countryside alike.

That bothered Legolas and I but with only rumors to go on we decided to just watch and send word to Aragorn, Elrond and Celeborn. Legolas had expected word by now of Arwen and Aragorn's child and I know that he was worried that no news might mean bad news. For once, I was the optimistic one and I reassured him that if he could birth twins safely then Arwen could, too.

We ambled along, taking our time and exclaiming over each new sight. We'd discovered a peat bog, which we had to skirt but within were several rare herbs that Rheanas and Lorrin were almost ready to harvest. They looked like little brown mud flowers to me but Rhea spoke of them with a gleam in his eye and a hushed voice. I think he was already planning who might benefit from their potent properties back in Rivendell and Lothlorien.

I glanced down at Pharin to find her looking wide-eyed about her from her perch in the sling over my chest. One little hand clutched a lock of my hair and occasionally she'd chew on it before going back to her staring at the leafy canopy overhead. She was definitely Legolas' daughter with an affinity for all things green. Glimmer was a Dwarf in most ways with a liking for earth and mud.

Papa was betting that he learned to crawl first and I wasn't going to be the one to bet against him. I looked around for my father and spotted him walking with Balik and Cincall. They were probably talking about the next building project, a guesthouse that would include enough rooms to house a sizable party. We were looking ahead to the time when Elrond or Aragorn or even the Lady Galadriel might come visiting and need better accommodation than somebody's guestroom.

Looking around again, I saw no sign of the elder Elf, Lorrin. I'd grown accustomed to him dropping in when he felt like conversation or when we wondered aloud how he was. A large group like this was probably too noisy for him, I decided and went back to watching my beautiful bonded glow in the morning sun. The light bounced on the river and shattered into thousands of prisms, sparkling like diamonds.

But they were as nothing compared to the glowing mane of my love. I'd braided it back from his face and it flowed down his back like a waterfall of golden silk. Pharin's murmur brought my gaze down into her wide-eyed look. She was chewing on my hair again and patting my tan cotton shirt with one little hand. That usually meant that she was getting hungry and I walked a little faster to draw even with Legolas and Frodo.

Sparkling blue eyes met mine with a smile. "Dinner time, my love?"

"Soon. How is Glimmer doing?" I peeked up and saw his head discretely positioned over one plump nipple. The heavy white gauze of Legolas' shirt kept anyone from seeing that he was nursing our son. We tried to keep our differences from being too blatant among our neighbors.

Frodo was nursing Elanor while Sam walked next to him with little Bilbo in his own sling. I marveled at how domestic we were four males all carrying babies. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I sighed happily and walked a little faster at the sight of the river widening before us. That meant the sheltered cove was coming up and we'd soon be eating some of the delectable feast that our cooks had been slaving over for the last two days.

It should have been chaos with 64 different people all trying to get comfortable and fed at the same time. But it wasn't. We'd all grown accustomed to working together and today was no different. Merry and the furniture makers had built several sturdy tables for outdoors with some benches for those who didn't want to sit on the ground. Jallico and Pip set up each one with different kinds of food.

Sam and I spread our blankets under one of the willow trees so the babies would be in the shade instead of the direct sunlight. Then while Legolas and Frodo arranged them between the pillows we'd brought with us, Sam and I went to get our first course. Pip had made a cabbage and carrot salad with tart vinaigrette dressing and I hastily got some before it was gone.

Little moans and exclamations about how good everything was broke the low hum of conversation. Legolas ate one of Nanala's cheddar and garlic biscuits with a happy smile and even shared a bite with me while Pharin suckled at his breast. Glimmer lay on his back and watched the long sinuous branches of the willow dance above him. He waved his arms in time with their movement while Elanor copied his hands with little waves of her own. Frodo was nursing Bilbo and letting Sam feed him some salad.

I looked about us with a contented sigh. Pfister and Nanala were sharing a blanket with my father and Balik. Clothile sat on one of the benches under another willow tree. I realized with a start that Lorrin sat beside him. When had the elder Elf appeared? Smiling, I took note that Salurr, Weaver Matso's eldest daughter, was sharing a blanket with Cincall while her mother watched them from one blanket over. Perhaps there would be a marriage in our near future?

Legolas chuckled and nipped my ear. "They've been courting for three moons now, my love. I think Cincall will be coming to us very shortly for permission to build his own home, one to which he can bring a bride."

I turned my head and grazed his lips with my own. "Really? Three months isn't very long, my own."

"Long enough." He said and kissed me gently.

Did that mean it only took him three months to fall in love with me? I thought about that and watched him nestle Pharin in the small makeshift bed between the pillows. All four babies rolled toward each other and started exploring the fascinating arms and legs of each other. Their only difference was size. Even though our twins were 32 days younger than the Hobbit twins - Glimmer and Pharin were already a hand's width longer.

But aside from that Elanor and Pharin had hair the same color and looked more like sisters. Glimmer and Bilbo were close enough in coloring to be brothers. I had a suspicion that growing up so close together would bond them closer than the siblings that they appeared. They were already looking out after each other, cooing and singing happily to one another.

"We're blessed aren't we, Frodo?" Sam said happily and leaned over to kiss his bonded.

"Very, very blessed, my Sam." The dark haired Hobbit rested his head on a convenient shoulder then I saw his eyes widen and his head shoot upright. "We're about to have company."

A party of six Hobbits was walking up the path we'd worn along the riverbanks. I looked over to find Merry rising and helping Pip up. "Mother, Dad, we're over here."

"Mama?" Pip said happily and hurried toward a female Hobbit who looked just like him.

"Dad?" Sam had shot to his feet and Frodo was right behind him, hurrying towards them.

"Oh dear," Legolas smiled a little worriedly. "I do hope that third female isn't Rose."

I looked hard and shook my head when Sam embraced her. "She looks rather like Sam, maybe she's one of his sisters?"

"I certainly hope so because Sam and Frodo's secret is about to be exposed." He said with a tender smile down at the babies all curled around each other. I dropped a kiss on his head for luck and got up to welcome our visitors. It took a few moments for the excitement to die down to manageable levels but one of the lower benches was brought over between our blankets while the Hobbits were served up a tasty lunch.

Master Gamgee was definitely a little hard of hearing but his daughter seemed to have the knack of getting through to him. He sat on the bench and drank down a mug of river chilled beer with gusto. Little Bilbo had awakened from his post-lunch nap and begun to crawl towards the sound of his father's voice over where he was serving beer to the other two. The Halfling twins had discovered that little trick the week before and I was pretty sure they were going to teach my two in no time flat.

"Well, bless my soul, look at him, Marigold. Isn't he a cute one then?" The elder Gamgee smiled down at the littlest Hobbit while Sam blushed hard.

Frodo leaned over and picked up his son, carrying him over to the elder Hobbit with shaking hands. "Master Gamgee, I'd like you to meet your grandson, Bilbo."

Dead silence fell and I could see Legolas tense with a little shiver. I knelt beside him and hugged him close while Sam joined his bonded.

"Dad, you've got a grandson and a granddaughter, too." He said putting an arm around Frodo while his sister gasped and leaned in closer to look.

"Goodness, Sam, what a beautiful little boy. May I hold him?" She asked with a smile and Frodo let him go reluctantly. "Oh Sam, he has your eyes." Cooing softly, she counted his fingers while he grabbed for her hair. "Look Dad, he has the Gamgee finger."

Her father started and held out his gnarled hands for the baby. Frodo was so still I might have thought him a statue but for the slight tremors that betrayed him. Sam was more worried about his bonded than his son and I watched him hold tight and whisper encouraging words into his ear. The old gardener held Bilbo with expert hands, looking long and hard at the baby who was singing a little and waving his hands.

Slowly a smile blossomed on the weathered face while he inspected the crooked finger so like Sam's. He nodded once before gazing at his son and Frodo. "A proper Gamgee, indeed. Mr. Frodo, you do good work, you do."

The only thing holding Frodo up just then was his bonded. "Th-th-thank you, Master Gamgee."

"Nah son, call me Dad the way Sam does. We're a family now, we are." He said with a wink while Legolas slowly relaxed in my arms.

Elanor began to fuss at not finding her brother and Frodo turned to pick her up with a soothing hush. Marigold's eyes widened but she took her niece with gentle hands. "Oh Frodo, how beautiful she is and such pretty blue eyes just like yours. What's her name?"

Sam answered. "Elanor, Sis, she's named for a real pretty white flower that grows in the spring."

I relaxed and brought my attention back to my own family. Legolas was holding Glimmer close while Pharin rolled to her stomach and flexed her fingers against the blanket. It looked like Frodo and Sam had just increased their family and I wished with all my heart that Merry and Pip's families would be just as supportive when they learned that Pip was pregnant.

Legolas leaned into my hug. "We are blessed with supportive family, my Gimli."

I spared a fleeting thought for the one who had not been supportive. "We are indeed, beloved. Now, how about some dessert?"

He chuckled and agreed. Getting up, I made my way to the dessert table. Our anniversary was turning out to be almost better than the original day. Once again Friendly was living up to its name. Perhaps we'd even grow by a few new settlers. Whistling, I headed back with the tart lemon custard. Maybe Legolas would let me feed it to him?

The end for now