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Gimli
***************

He lies there so still that almost you would think him a statue.

I know it’s a healing trance he’s in.

I know that he will be all right . . . eventually.

I know that when he recovers, I intend to kick his ass right around this damn forest.

He has no business to even need healing. If I needed a self-appointed keeper, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen an elf who doesn’t know enough to get out of the way of an arrow meant for me. I intend to tell him a thing or two when he wakes up.

When he wakes up . . . I have to believe he’ll wake up soon or go stark raving mad.

Mad-dwarf-with-an-ax . . . sounds like some silly tale that a halfling would tell the little ones around the campfire. I check his pulse again because there is something in my eyes and I can no longer see that infinitesimal rise and fall of his chest.

His chest . . . I’ve seen it four times without the cloak of clothing. It appears that Elves have no hair anywhere on their bodies. It might look childish if not for the lean muscles that ripple beneath his fair skin and stretch when he does. His strength is not like mine but more like the quicksilver that my people compare his people to with derision.

They’re wrong. He is not insubstantial or false ore. He is golden through and through. I enjoyed my time with his people although I rarely admit it. The travels we made together with the others of our fellowship have changed me out of all recognition. I no longer pine for the deep caverns far from the sun. I only miss them at certain moments of the night.

I wonder if he misses the forests of Rivendell or Mirkwood? He’s never said so but I see a wistfulness in his eyes sometimes. Perhaps we both miss the places where we were born and the people who knew us when we were young.

“He will be all right, Gimli.” The strong hand on my shoulder should startle me but I think I knew he was nearby. He crouches by my side and checks the pulse in the long, graceful throat. “An hour more will see him opening his eyes.”

“Stupid elf, he should have known that the arrow would glance off my breast plate.” I blinked back the moisture that had no business being in my eyes.

Aragorn laughed silently. “He said much the same about you when you shoved him aside and took that blow a moon ago. Neither of my friends are stupid but they may be a bit dense.”

I glared at him. “What do you mean? Dense?”

“Friendship is one thing, Gimli, but love is something else entirely. Look into your heart, my friend, and see what lies in his.” Aragorn smoothed back a tangled curl from Legolas’ cheek and I twitched at the tender gesture. “He won’t ever speak of something that he fears might offend you. Elves love to suffer in silence, unlike noisy dwarves.”

And with a chuckle, he arose and departed back to the outer fire while I sat still as if turned to stone.

Love? What in the world was the mad king talking about? Dwarves don’t love elves. It simply isn’t done. We are too different in body and temperament. He is sunlight and laughter while I am darkness and severity. He is tall and graceful while I stump along at his side, too grim to please . . . too . . . the world tilted on its axis and I fell off.

Love. I’d only been in love once and when she died of the birthing fever, I put that emotion aside and worked all the harder. I’d grown a thick skin so I wouldn’t want what I couldn’t have. Friendship and companionship were all I needed, until I got sent on a mad quest with the oddest companions that ever a Dwarf tale could dream up.

I found my hand stroking his long hair, the silky golden strands flowing through my fingers like cool water. It was finer than any thread from an Elven loom, alive with a crackling energy that burned. I tried to snatch my hand away from the flaming strands but knew with sudden clarity that I could not. The king-in-disguise had seen truly into my heart.

Could he have seen truly into Legolas’?

Bright Haven, I hoped so. It looked like this quest was coming to an end although whether for good or ill, I could not guess. The Ringbearer was hopefully nearing his destination and I knew that if it were at all possible, Frodo and Sam would do what had to be done. There was no time for this, no matter how much I might wish it. We were fighting for our lives and the odds of us winning through were so small as to be unforeseeable.

“Gimli.” His voice was so soft that if I hadn’t been leaning towards him, I wouldn’t have heard it at all. “My friend.”

I gulped hard and kept on stroking his hair. “I’m here, friend Legolas. How goes it with you?”

“I am well.” Those long eyelashes slowly lifted and I caught my breath at the spark in his gaze. “Perhaps . . . better than ever I have been.”

“When you are well, we will have a long talk about silly Elves who put themselves in the way of danger. But for now, know that we are all safe and for tonight we merely sleep to gain strength for the morrow.” I dared to leave his hair and stroke one soft caress to his fair cheek.

His smile lit the small cave with only his radiance. “Safe indeed, Gimli. I could wish for nothing else.”

“I could.” I muttered to myself then blushed crimson at the startled look on his face.

“Wishes might become hopes, Gimli.” He turned his head a little, trapping my hand beneath his soft cheek.

“And hopes might become reality.” I let my thumb graze his lips and they parted to allow his tongue to dart out. The small lick against my skin made me shiver.

“Hm-m-m, reality would be better than any waking dream that I have ever dreamt.” Legolas nibbled at my nerveless fingers and each nip went straight to my groin.

“Was this then a dream of yours?” I needed to know when he’d begun to feel something other than just friendship for me.

“For long moons, Gimli, since I ceased to see just a humorless dwarf and found a friend and companion who fit me like a glove.” He smiled to take the sting away from the word ‘humorless’.

So I sniffed, the way I had done at the beginning. “Well, it has been some time since I ceased to see the frivolous elf and instead found a friend who made my heart sing with his caring.”

“Who ever said that dwarves had no poetry was a fool and a dullard.” Legolas’ hand found mine and I clasped it close to my heart. “Should we survive the last battle, may we speak of this again?”

“Yes.” I gave him my pledge and watched his eyes light up.

***********

Tired.

I’d never felt this tired before.

If I tried, I didn’t think I could lift my ax even once more.

In fact, leaning on the blood soaked handle, I was afraid that it was all that was holding me up. The enemy was no more and we’d won the day. But I feared for the Halflings who had succeeded so well. Gandalf had flown away to try and find them. A shrill whistle brought my head up and I saw Legolas wave from some distance away. That sight gave me the strength to move again.

And damned if I didn’t have one last task to perform before getting a rest. In a heap of bodies, I spied a Halfling foot and uncovered small Pippin still alive. Leaving him with the healers, I finally found Legolas and allowed myself to look my fill. A streak of blood marred his pale cheek and his hair was more disordered than I’d ever seen it. But his dark eyes were sparkling and that was all that mattered.

We shared a room in this city of stone and once the door was closed fast behind us, I leaned against it and saw him head for the fireplace where a small fire blazed. He tested the small kettle that hung over the fire and found it to his liking. “Gimli, we have hot water for washing and I, for one, could use a bath.”

“I, too, Legolas but I fear I may be too weary to enjoy it.” The door just might be the only thing holding me up, I thought while I toed off my boots and flexed my toes against the cold stone.

“Then come to me, Gimli, and I will see to your comfort.” He stretched out a long fingered hand and I had to answer that summons. Crossing the room took the last of my strength and I sank to the thick green rug on the hearth by his side.

The small basin smelled of some kind of sweet herb that seemed to clear my head of the fatigue of battle. His gaze was soft yet searching while he wrung out a cloth and cleaned my face. It felt so good that I closed my eyes and let him have his way. Clever fingers undid my mail shirt and the loss of that weight helped me relax further. Finally, my shirt was gone and the warm wet cloth moved through the matted hair on my chest.

My sigh was heart felt and he chuckled before moving my braid over my shoulder so he could get to my back. Water trickled into the waistband of my pants and we both stilled. I looked into the beautiful face before me and threw my caution right out of the window. Leaning in, I brushed my lips over his and tasted the sweetness that was Legolas.

His gasp opened those pouting lips for me and I slid inside the warm wet haven of his mouth. My tongue rubbed against his while my hands slid up his chest to the leather ribbons that held his shirt together. I needed skin . . . soft . . . satin skin and I needed it now. But his elusive taste was driving me to madness and a growl vibrated between us when he pulled away to shrug off his shirt.

I approved of that but even more I wanted nothing between us and I pushed my breeches down to the ground, kicking them aside. His soft sided boots were easily removed then my hands were pulling off the rest of his clothing. Finally, we were both naked and we took turns with the wet cloth, cleaning each other with care. Legolas undid my braid and combed the snarled strands with his fingers while our mouths tangled together.

It all felt so good that I could feel my cock hardening to the point of pain. He pulled away just far enough to rest his forehead against mine. “Bed, Gimli. I don’t want our first time to be on the cold, hard floor.”

“Finicky Elf.” I took a deep breath.

“Stubborn Dwarf.” He teased me, standing and pulling me up with him.

Luckily, the bed wasn’t far away. We were both laughing for some reason when we rolled on the fresh smelling linen. I ended up on top of him, all those long lean limbs entangling with mine and his fair skin glowing against my darkened flesh. For a brief moment, I wondered how he could possibly want me . . . me, a son of the mountains.

“I love you, Gimli, son of Gloin.” He read my mind while both his hands framed my face with his strength. “I think perhaps that we were born to love each other.”

“Well, one of us was born into the wrong race, then.” I tried to joke but could only feel the sharp stab of reality pierce my heart.

“Nay, my friend, I think we were born into the families that we should. Had you been another Elf, I would not now have all this wonderful hair,” he combed through the thick curls on my chest, “to play with or feel it tickle my skin.”

Amazing, I thought with a flush, he likes my hairiness. Gulping, I took a good look at his naked limbs and the long, slim cock that bobbed between us. “You may be right, Legolas. Dwarves do not have such arrow-like weapons.” I leaned in and ran my tongue over the crimson head to drink in a tear of fluid. “Nor could another dwarf ever taste of sweet honey as you do.”

He gasped and shivered. “Gimli! Do that again, please.”

Smiling up at him, I lapped another tear of shining translucent seed from his cock. Then another and another until with a sigh, Legolas shot forth his arrow, giving me the honey that I craved. He shuddered beneath my hands and I gentled my coaxing forth of that pale elixir. The look of relaxation on his dear face soothed away any lines of fatigue that the last battle had etched around his eyes.

Eyes that were even now opening to gaze upon me. “Dearest beloved Gimli, thank you. But I see yet another reason that I am glad that we are who we are.”

With just a slight flexing of those long lean muscles of his, he rolled us over so I lay beneath him. His hands ghosted over my flesh, tickling and teasing me into complete arousal. “I have heard it said that dwarves have great stamina in all things. Is that true, my love?”

At that moment, I’d have traded a cave of gold and jewels for that sparkling look from his eyes. “It is true, Legolas. We are slow to arouse.” His fingers wrapped around my granite like cock. “And we believe in long . . . hard . . . hours of labor.” I felt the delicate tickle of his hair brush my thighs and had to close my eyes lest I spend myself prematurely. “Of course, we also have a short temper and are liable to go off at any time with sufficient provocation.”

The hot moistness of his mouth descended onto my shaft, enveloping me with heat and I shuddered. But then his tongue lapped at my crown and I found my hands on his head, tangling in the long strands. He chuckled around me and the vibration spread throughout my body until I could no longer hold back from thrusting up into that haven of warmth. He sucked a little more, his fingers finding the sac between my legs and gently rolling the three balls held safe there.

I was drowning in the sensations he invoked within me and my stamina was quickly spent within his mouth. I shuddered through my release with a groan, falling into sleep as quickly as I’d fallen into his arms.

*****

I awoke to the smell of fresh baked bread but not even that wonderful smell could obscure the delicate scent of the hair that tickled my face. Legolas was the only being I knew who still smelled like flowers even after a bloody great battle with insufficient clean up. Opening my eyes, I found myself with my very own living, breathing elven blanket to go with the soft wool coverlet that warmed our bed.

He slept still, his breath gusting lightly out over the hollow of my throat. My hands spanned his back and I traced the muscles there but gently, not wanting to wake him from his healing rest. Even Elves can grow tired and I had the urge to fall asleep again myself but that yeasty smell made my stomach growl. It seemed like weeks since my last meal.

Turning my head, I found Pippin sitting quietly in one of the chairs by the table. His gaze was pensive as he studied our close embrace. He blushed a little when he saw I was awake, whispering to me. “Sorry, Gimli, I didn’t mean to wake you up. I brought up some dinner for you since you didn’t come down to eat.”

I smiled at him. “That was most kind of you, little one. How are you feeling?”

“Better. Aragorn took away the headache.” He smiled at me but it took some effort and I wondered what could be wrong.

“Pippin, is there something you need to ask me?” I thought I might know what he was thinking but needed the words to be sure.

He blushed again. “Do . . . is . . . can males love males?”

“A year ago, I would have said no.” I smiled at him then down at the fair hair fanned out over my chest. “Six moons ago I would have said that a Dwarf and an Elf couldn’t possibly love each other. Since I fell in love with Legolas Greenleaf, I now know that anything is possible in this wonderful world of ours.”

That golden head raised up to look at me. “To wake to such a heartfelt declaration, my love, is one of the marvels of Middle-earth.” He turned his head and smiled at Pippin. “And yes, little one, one male can indeed love another male.”

“Oh,” he nodded but left his head down. “How do you know . . . um.”

“If your love is returned?” Legolas sat up gracefully, making sure the blanket stayed tucked around us both. “Merry loves you very much, Pippin, but you are younger than he and he feels a keen sense of responsibility for you. It may be that you will have to ask him if what he feels is more than that emotion.”

Eyes brimming with tears finally met our gaze. “He’s my best friend and I’m afraid of losing that friendship.”

Legolas sighed and uncurled himself from my side, leaving the bed and crossing to the table. Kneeling in front of the distraught hobbit, he lifted the quivering chin and spoke. “The very best kind of love starts with friendship and deepens to all encompassing passion. Ask him, Pippin. I do not think he will say no.”

The hobbit burst into tears and my lover swept him up in his arms and brought him back to our bed. I sat up enough to accept the sobbing halfling into a hug, rocking him as tenderly as I could. Legolas returned for the tray of food and carried it back to us. Reaching for a robe, he belted it around him then took back the little hobbit who was in such distress while I got out of bed to clothe myself. An old nightshirt that had traveled with me from home was enough and I crawled back into the bed, taking the tray of food onto my lap.

Legolas hummed quietly and slowly Pippin stopped crying. I buttered some bread and set it aside so I could check the teapot. The brew was opaque so it just might be strong enough to finish waking me up. I poured some into the two cups and drank it down like a fine wine.

“Ah, now that is the way tea should be brewed.” I smiled smugly at Legolas who chuckled and took a sip from the other cup.

“Tar, that’s what it tastes like. Perhaps some sugar to sweeten the taste?” He smiled at me, fluttering his eyelashes just a bit and I felt a shiver go up my spine.

“Honey . . . honey would sweeten it immeasurably.” I growled and watched him blush at my tone. “But some sugar is available at the moment so hand it over.”

He held it out and I spooned in two heaping teaspoons full of the brownish substance, which was all that this city under siege could muster. Pippin had finally stopped crying and he sniffed endearingly, scrubbing at this face with both hands. I fished out a handkerchief from under the pillow and he blew his nose hard before taking a sip from the other cup.

“Th-h-hank you, both. I’m sorry to be so silly.” His smile was shaky but I was glad to see it.

“Not silly, Pippin.” Legolas reassured him with a little hug. “Eat a little something and we’ll answer any questions you might have.”

The young hobbit accepted a muffin and began to nibble. “Um, what can you do together?”

I chuckled. “Everything that you can do with a female can be done with a male. There are just a few adjustments to be made. Legolas has those great long legs so I had to wrestle him down to the bed so we had a level playing field.”

Legolas finished a bite of apple with a swallow that rippled the muscles in his throat. “I must admit that Gimli was a surprise to me but kissing a face with a beard is surprisingly erotic.”

“The shape is different, Pippin but strong arms can both hold and be held.” I took another sip while he thought about that.

A knock at the door startled all of us. But the door was already opening before we could respond. “Pip, aren’t you finished yet?” Merry’s head peered around the door and his eyes widened when he saw the three of us in bed. “Oh!” He began to disappear but I hastily called out to him to join us.

He hesitated long enough for my lover to leap from the bed and pull him into our room. “Merry, we were just talking about you. You must join us.”

It wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind for our first morning as lovers but we had the time now to take things slowly. And that felt very good indeed.

Chapter Text

*******Gimli ********

Merry watched us warily but even I could see that the one he wanted to look at was his fellow halfling. Pip was blushing so hard that I felt the heat from his bright red cheeks. Legolas sighed out loud and we all looked to him.

“Merry, we would appreciate your help. Gimli and I . . . we are . . . oh dear, how awkward this is.” His shy look would have done any blushing maiden proud. “I fell in love with Gimli moons ago and just discovered that he feels the same way.”

The hobbit looked between us with wide eyes. “Really? What can I do?”

“Are . . . are you disgusted with us?” I asked him, trying for a little quiver of lip.

“NO!” He squeaked and looked everywhere but at Pippin. “I mean . . . it’s nice that you both can love each other. Being an Elf and a Dwarf shouldn’t stand in the way of true love.”

“But we’re both male, Merry.” Legolas’ voice was whisper soft.

He sat up straight and looked firmly at us both. “That doesn’t matter either. Love is very precious and if . . . if someone male loved me,” he took a deep breath. “I would love him back.”

Pippin’s face had the most astonished look that I’ve ever seen. His mouth was a perfect ‘O’ and his eyes were rounder than a hobbit-door. “Merry? Oh, Merry, is it me? Please say it’s me.”

Merry blushed red but nodded yes. I rescued the tray when Pippin launched himself at his friend. A more enthusiastic kiss I have never seen and I found myself caught between a smile and a tear. Legolas ran his hand up my leg to catch my hand and bring it to his lips. If the two hobbits had suddenly stripped and begun making love, I wouldn’t have noticed.

The heated eyes that looked into mine promised me a kiss that would surpass the one still going on beside us. But my stomach growled again and he started to laugh. “My poor Gimli, we must feed you, ere you decide to gnaw on one of us.”

That put a picture in my mind that must have showed in my eyes because he suddenly blushed and handed me another slice of bread. “Food, my love. Eat, grow strong and I shall think of something for you to . . . suck upon.”

I devoured the bread while keeping an eye on the two Halflings, nestled together like two peas in a pod. Their whispers were sweet to my ear and I split my gaze between them and my smiling lover. The sausages were bland but my hunger didn’t care and I devoured them all once Legolas shook his head. He was nibbling on a muffin and I had a sudden urge to clean his lips of crumbs.

He knew what I was thinking and teased me with a swipe of his pink tongue over those beautiful lips. My stomach hunger was assuaged but my heart hunger was growing. The hobbits sat up still holding on to each other. Their faces were bright, eyes shining and I felt my own lips curve upwards.

“Thank you, both.” Merry blinked at us. “The baths are ready on the lower level. That’s what I came by to tell you. They’ll stay hot because of the fires so you can take your time. Pippin, let’s go have a bath right now so we can go back to your room.”

The youngest hobbit bounced up and hugged my lover hard then threw himself into my arms. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. Let’s go, Merry.”

They dropped off the bed and raced hand in hand to the doorway. With a wave over their shoulders they disappeared, banging the door behind them. Legolas was laughing again but even better, he was moving next to me and shrugging off his robe. “How very energetic they are, Gimli. I wonder if Frodo and Sam are a couple also?”

“Perhaps, Legolas, but at the moment, I do not care. I am satisfied to finally be alone with you again.” I handed him the tray and nodded towards the table. “Set that aside. What I want now is bare skin and just you and me in this bed.”

“I like the way you think, my love. But perhaps this time we should lock the door. Havens knows who might come by next.” He laughingly turned the key and laid it on the table with the tray. My nightshirt hit the floor at almost the same moment that he slid into bed beside me. His skin was cool and not for the first time, I wondered if that was normal for all Elves. He molded himself to me with a little sigh of contentment. “Warm, you’re always so warm, Gimli.”

“Ah, I wondered why you always slept so close on our journey. You just love me for my heat.” I tried for a put-upon sigh but most of me was distracted by the feel of him.

“Never, my love, although it was a factor in the deep caves where the bitter cold ruled.” His hands caressed my chest and I had to catch my breath.

My own hands were smoothing soft patterns on his back, up to his broad shoulders and down to the perfect globes of his ass. He trembled a little when my blunt fingers slid down his crease. But it was my turn when his lips found one of my nipples to suck. His legs fell to either side of mine and I gently brushed across the small pucker that I found between his cheeks. He moaned and tenderly bit the nipple over my heart. I could feel the passion rising in me while my cock twitched and began to fill.

“Beloved, what more would you like to do right this moment?” I asked him, wondering what experience he might have with lovemaking.

He flicked his tongue over my taut bud and I shivered. Then letting go of it, he raised up enough so he could look in my eyes. “I would like to do everything with you but while I know the basics of male loving, I have . . . never indulged.”

I knew the basics also. “Perhaps you should come inside of me first. This arrow,” I slowly slid my fingers around his cock, “would fit me quite well, I think. It’s been a while but I do remember that feels very good.”

“Really? We still need oil so I don’t hurt you.” His smile was just as shy as the one with which he’d graced Merry, but this one was real.

“Don’t we still have some of that sweet oil from Rohan?” I thought about the saddlebags we’d carried up here.

“Yes, I think we do.” His dark eyes sparkled while he kissed me. I tasted the apple from his mouth and thought it less sweet than his own taste. I could have sucked on that smooth tongue of his for an hour or more but he pulled away with a moan and slid to my side. “Oh, Gimli, what havoc you wreak within my breast.”

“No less than mine. I never knew how very empty I was until I met you.” Threading my fingers through his fair hair, I coaxed a soft sigh from him. “You are like that Ent drink that satisfies all appetites. Well, most appetites.”

He chuckled and rose up on one elbow, his dark eyes smiling into mine. “That empty ache was mine as well,” he kissed me gently before relaxing onto my chest. “I’m so very glad we took this journey together.”

I stroked his hair in what had become my favorite caress. The peace that wrapped us in its cloak was a blessed relief after the clamor of war. Idly I thought about the Fellowship that had separated but had now come together again. We’d lost Boromir but gained his brother Faramir. And Gandalf had died but been born again to us. The Halflings had all survived although the cost to the Ringbearer and his faithful friend remained to be seen.

“Legolas, do you think that Frodo and Sam are all right?”

He sighed and kissed my throat. “It is too soon to tell. I have great hopes that Aragorn was able to heal the hurts. The Ring was a heavy burden for one so young and small.”

“Size matters not, my friend.” I pretended indignation.

“It is true that wonderful things come in small packages.” He smiled into my skin and licked his way up to my aching lips. “Small . . . explosive . . . sweet.”

“Sweet?” I said gruffly.

He laughed silently and kissed me. His tongue stroked mine slowly and I absorbed the taste of him. His light scent filled my senses and his hands trailed fire behind each touch. My own fingers were busy tracing each muscle of the long arms that cradled me. His body had warmed with our love play and he moved like a sleek cat over me.

“Dear Havens, how very soft your curls are.” His lips left mine and ghosted over my nose to my eyelids. “Your solid body belies the beautiful hair you hide beneath your armor. So tender,” he whispered with a soft kiss to my left eyebrow. “Velvet skin,” he brushed his lips across my right temple. “Soft as a fluffy bunny.”

My eyelids shot open and I glared at him. “Fluffy bunny? Are you insane, Elf? No dwarf has ever been or ever will be fluffy.”

He laughed out loud and I realized that he’d said that on purpose. I rolled him onto his back and began to tickle his sides while he hiccuped and tried to escape my teasing fingers. We slowed our play finally and I looked down into dancing eyes with a feeling of almost disbelief.

“I love you, Legolas Greenleaf. Do you think the hobbits have left us any hot water?”

His smile was brighter than the sun. “I love you too, Gimli, son of Gloin. We should go and see about the baths. Perhaps Frodo will have awakened and we can check on them.”

“Good idea. I suppose we have to get dressed to seek the lower levels?” I rolled off him and stretched before slipping from the bed.

“I would not willingly share the sight of your strong body with the other inhabitants of this palace.” He followed me out of bed and I looked at him in amazement.

“I’m not the one that they’d be looking at, Legolas. Such beauty as yours shines within these cold, stone walls.” I told him true and watched him blush. Amazing. He seemed to not see the beauty that shone from him. “You need to stay close to me and I will protect you from the many admirers who will no doubt appear now that the war is over.”

He stilled pulling up his breeches and looked wonderingly at me. “The war is truly over, Gimli.”

Smiling, I found my pants near the fire. “We survived, my love. Lucky for you that you had a sturdy dwarf to protect you.”
Sinking to the floor before me, his long fingers stilled my fumbling hands. “I thank the Lady for you every day, beloved.”

We kissed tenderly before separating to dress enough to be seen in public. I loved watching his graceful gestures and once again compared us unfavorably. How could he possibly love my dwarf-shape? Somehow he always seemed to know when I was feeling despondent and he knelt once again to tug my tunic into place.

“You are the foundation of my world, Gimli. Like the stone that houses us or the soil that grows our food, you keep me grounded in the real world and not lost in elven dreams. I delight in your strength and passion.” His hand cupped my cheek. “Never doubt my faithfulness or the love that has grown over the length of our journey.”

“Never! I do not doubt your love, Legolas. Perhaps your eyesight?” I said weakly, ashamed of my uncertainties.

His smile was loving and he kissed me gently before rising and holding out his hand. When I took it, he led me towards the door. “My eyesight is just fine, Gimli. We will work on these feelings over the next hundred years or so. Not even a stubborn dwarf can hold out that long.”

I laughed out loud and followed him from the room. Those years should be very interesting, I thought fondly. The other inhabitants of this palace bowed to us and a serving maid showed us the stairs that descended into the lower levels. The hot steamy air rose to greet us and I immediately started to itch. It had been moons since we’d had a real bath with hot water and soap.

Even Legolas began to hurry and we entered a room filled with wide tubs that steamed. The grates in the stone floors showed tunnels underneath that carried away dirty water but also allowed for fires that kept the tubs and water hot. Some felt hotter than others but my lover headed for the one near the back wall where the steam was thickest.

I looked for the Halflings but didn’t see them. Only two tubs sported naked bodies and they were both Men. Legolas was already disrobing by the time I reached the huge tub that looked like it could hold all of the Fellowship combined. I caught a glimpse of someone already in it and I paused while I tried to see who it was.

“Join me, my friends.” Aragorn’s tired voice reached my ears. He looked like the stone back was the only thing holding him up. “Wash off over there then come back to soak in this one. There’s soap on the shelf above.”

Legolas nodded and led me to a shallow tub with the signs of much splashing on the floor. We ducked ourselves and washed each other clean. If we lingered here and there, well, there was no one who might look askance. It was the height of luxury to have his strong fingers washing my long hair. It felt so good that I could have stayed there for a long time. But his soft locks beckoned my fingers and I gave back as good as I got. We were both well washed by the time we drained the dirty water out one end while clean water came in at the other.

The water was blood-hot as I sank into Aragorn’s tub, finding a shelf under the water to support me, although my chin barely cleared the top of the water. Legolas sank beside me and sighed with pleasure. We soaked for long moments until I remembered to ask about Frodo.

Aragorn’s sigh told part of the story. He spoke of the missing finger, the fumes that almost gassed them both and the strong fatigue that was perhaps the worst of all. They had almost no reserves left to fight the battle for life. Frodo’s battle was the worst because of his close proximity to the Ring and its constant pull toward evil. Sam would bounce back sooner but Frodo would need our strength to draw upon in his recovery.

My hand found Legolas’ under the water and we held onto each other while we thought about what might still come to our young friend. Time and good cheer would both help in the healing process.

“And what of you, my friends? How goes it with you?” His half-smile told me that he well knew what had finally happened.

“We are together, Aragorn, in all things.” Legolas said simply.

“I am glad.” His tones were affectionate. “Our Fellowship is doing better than I thought it might at the beginning of this journey. Have you seen Merry and Pippin?”

I chuckled and Legolas gestured for me to tell what had happened earlier. Aragorn laughed out loud and shook his head.

“Not unexpected but good news just the same.” He stretched and winced a little. “I’d best be off, out of the City. We’re setting up in tents outside Minas Tirith.”

“Hold fast, my king. You’re holding that shoulder too stiffly for my liking.” Legolas stopped him and pressed him down beside me, facing out. He ran his hands over the broad back before stopping at the left shoulder and flexing his fingers. “Move your arm up and . . .”

I heard a click and Aragorn’s frown turned to a smile. Strong massages from my mate’s talented fingers soon had him sighing. “Thank you, Legolas. I’d forgotten those magic Elven fingers of yours. Will I see you both later?”

“Call us and we will come, Aragorn.” I watched him climb over the side and head for the towels stacked in a basket on a higher shelf to keep them from getting wet. “Do you wish us to join you in your tent city?”

“Not at the moment, my friends. We will hold council in a day or so. The Halflings are housed on fourth level near your room.” He threw the now damp towel into a different basket and began to redress in black leather breeches with a soft gray shirt. “I’ll return to check on Frodo at dawn tomorrow.”

“We’ll see you then. Take time for yourself, Aragorn. It seems there will be a future after all.” I told him and watched him smile.

“Amazing, Gimli but welcome all the same. Be well.” He stamped into his boots and left almost as silently as an Elf.

“His burdens now quadruple.” My lover sighed and rejoined me on the seat. “He is strong but I still feel that I must help in any way I can.”

“We, beloved, we must help as he allows.” I reminded him with a smile.

“Yes,” his smile lit up the cloudy chamber. “You are my greatest blessing, Gimli. We shall take the future one day at a time.”

“Yes.” I agreed while we soaked until I felt the heat almost too much and we agreed to get out to dry off.

My weariness caught me by surprise but I tried to hide it. Legolas said nothing but even his straight back seemed to droop a little. He braided my damp hair then I returned the favor. Making our way slowly back up to our room, we found a fresh tray of food waiting. Stripping down to skin, we ate heartily before the yawns began again. My lover stretched out his hand and drew me back to bed.

We cuddled close together and pulled up the warm blankets. Sleep came swifter than thought. And I was so tired that I didn’t even dream.

Chapter Text

Merry
****************

I washed Pip’s hair and he groaned with pleasure. Grinning, I massaged a little harder and listened to him sigh contentedly. My energy was beginning to fade so I tipped him back to rinse out the suds. His eyes were screwed up tight but his smile was just as broad as it had been in Legolas and Gimli’s room.

Suddenly I saw the bruise that was slowly fading and I shivered at how close I’d come to losing him. Somehow he knew my thoughts because his voice piped up. “I’m fine, Merry. More than fine, I’m terrific.”

I chuckled. “You are the finest hobbit in this great big palace.”

Pip laughed at me and stood up in the tub, holding out his hand to help me up. “Well, I don’t know about that but I do know that we’re both tired and I want to cuddle you in our bed.”

That wonderful statement gave me new energy and I hopped out of the tub to get some towels for us. But I was still recovering from my stabbing of the Lord of the Nazgul and it was all I could do to finish drying myself. Pippin seemed to understand and he matter of factly helped me dress enough to leave the lower levels. It took the last of my strength to reach his room and the soft bed looked like a vision of home.

We undressed hastily and crawled into bed, pulling up the warm blankets and sharing one pillow. I reached out to pull Pip closer, tangling our legs together and holding him so close that our breaths mingled between us. I kissed him again and savored his sweet taste. Then with a sigh of satisfaction, we fell fast asleep.

***********

I awoke, warm and tingling. Even before I opened my eyes, I knew that my favorite dream had come true. Finding Pip in Legolas and Gimli’s bed, I’d been so sure that he’d fallen for one of them that my heart had almost stopped. But when the Elf admitted that he and Gimli were in love, I’d been a little confused. I’d just assumed that they’d been lovers for some time.

I’m not the smartest hobbit around but their caring was as plain as the nose on your face.

Opening my eyes, I watched Pip sleep. I liked doing that and had for years, ever since I’d realized that no one was more important than my little cousin. No one was dearer or funnier or sweeter than my own Pip. His hair curled all over and my fingers itched to brush it off his face. The bruise was darker than it had been earlier and I said a little prayer that he’d never be hurt again.

I’d been his protector for all his life and I would continue in that role for the rest of mine.

His lips were slightly pursed and I wanted to taste him again but . . . I sighed. He needed his rest. However, my hands had other ideas and began to move gently over his skin, feeling every bump and scar from our journey. There was a white line on his left arm where he’d fallen when he was six. I found him crying under an apple tree one summer morning and carried him home where Dr. Dooworthy set his broken arm and dressed his cut.

I’d spent hours entertaining him with puppets, stories and anything I could think of to keep him in bed while he healed. Maybe that was the start of my love for him? I watched him sleep, his dark lashes lying quietly on his lean cheeks. They should have been plump and rosy but food had been a luxury for the last moon or so. Smiling, I brushed a finger over his dimpled tummy. He wiggled a little when I touched his ticklish belly button.

That was always his weak spot when we played together. All I had to do was grip his sides and start moving my fingers toward his stomach and he’d dissolve into giggles. I loved the sweet chortle of his laughter and I tried to free it whenever I could.

“Merry?” His sleepy murmur stilled my fingers. “Don’t stop.”

“Are you properly awake or do you want to sleep some more?” I almost held my breath.

Those beautiful eyes opened and his dear lips curved upwards. “Awake, Merry, very, very awake.”

I just couldn’t help myself. I had to kiss him again. He tasted more strongly of his own sweetness and my tongue surged inside of his mouth. Pip tried to wiggle closer to me but we were all ready just about as close as we could get. I’d paid attention to some of the couplings on our journey and I knew just what I wanted to taste next.

Finally we had to breathe and we pulled apart only far enough to look at each other. Pip’s lips were wet and slightly swollen. I groaned when he licked his lips and he blushed at the sound. Taking a quick look down, I saw his sex hard and leaking between us. That had me licking my lips while he blushed. But then, I slid down to his shaft and hesitantly licked away the clear drop of liquid.

“Oh, Merry.” He panted, his hands going to my head. “Oh, Merry.”

I liked hearing him say my name but I liked his groan even better when I took in his rosy crown and as much of his shaft as I could fit inside my mouth. I tried to protect his tender skin from my teeth and wondered how the others that I’d seen managed to do this without hurting their partner. Maybe I could ask Legolas later? Much, much later. Pip was moaning breathlessly now and more of that fluid was coming out and suddenly I wanted it all.

Greedy hobbit that I am, I wanted every single drop.

He cried out, his hips coming up and almost choking me with his shaft. But I held him down and sucked hard, coaxing out more and more of his bittersweet seed. Finally, he lay quivering on the bed, his hands combing through my hair while he panted to get in enough air.

“Oh, Merry.” He sighed and I looked up to be sure he was all right. “I’m fine, cousin, better than fine.”

“I know. You’re terrific.” I teased him while sliding back up to hold him again. I will never get enough of holding him, not if we live to 111.

“I am but so are you, Merry.” He laid his hand on my cheek and leaned in to kiss me. “Oh, is that me?”

“That’s you, Pip, and very tasty you are. Why, you taste better than Farmer Dell’s radishes.” I teased him and watched him blush.

“Then I think that I should see how you taste, Merry.” He said sweetly and dove for my groin as if it were a plate of sautéed mushrooms.

I’d been on the verge of coming for long minutes and the first touch of that pink tongue almost made me spend myself. Looking down was a mistake. The sight of his pouting lips stretched around my crown was too much for me. Pippin swiped his tongue over me and I came in long thick spurts that leaked out of his mouth. I’d never felt so good in my whole life.

“Hm-m-m,” he said with a slightly muffled voice. “You taste good, too.”

It took the last of my strength to reach for him, my fingers tugging his hair to bring him up closer. “Love you, Peregrin Took.”

“I love you too, Meriadoc Brandybuck.” He kissed me and I tasted our combined seed for the first time.

“Oh, Pip.” My heart overflowed into tears, which set him off too and we wept joyfully at having found each other at last.

****************

I awoke to the most wonderful smell possible - food, hot and steaming food. My eyes flew open and I stretched all over, finding Pip gone from my side. Sitting up, I saw him setting out plates and cutlery on the small table that someone in the City must have found for him. He’d pulled on his pants but that was all and I looked at him with greedy eyes. Nobody is as beautiful as he is.

“You’re awake, Merry.” He looked up and saw me. “Come and eat before it gets cold.”

I needed no second invitation, pushing back the covers and sliding down to the floor without using the steps that we’d used earlier. But I didn’t feel like dressing and the room was warm enough with the great fire that roared in the fireplace, so I simply walked over and sat down.

“Merry, aren’t you going to get dressed?” Pip’s eyes widened.

“Nope, too much trouble to get dressed to eat then have to get undressed again when I take you back to bed.” I speared a potato and brought it to my plate, looking up in time to see him blush.

“We’re going back to bed?” He asked hesitantly.

“Yes, we are, Pip. But not if you don’t want to.” I realized that I was taking for granted what he wanted to do.

“Oh, I want to,” he smiled through his blush. “But I thought we should check on Frodo and Sam after breakfast.”

“Goodness, I’d completely forgotten about them.” I couldn’t believe how insensitive I was. “Yes, of course, we must go see how they’re doing. We could help nurse them if they’re still hurt.”

“Just for a little while, Merry. Then we’ll come back here and make love again before dinner.” He reached for his own potato and started putting butter on it.

The next few minutes were spent almost inhaling our breakfast. Potatoes, eggs, sausage and bread were all freshly made and I’d never tasted anything so good before. There was even a little honey for our bread and I finally felt like I’d eaten my fill for the first time in two moons.

Pip was making little noises of appreciation over the sausage he was eating and the sound sent a wake-up call to my groin. Watching the dark meat disappear between his pink lips had me hard and aching in less than a minute. He opened his eyes and blushed when he saw my face.

“Merry, why do you look at me so?”

“I see something else that I’d like for breakfast, Pip. You just stay right there, I can serve myself.” I rounded the table and pulled his stool out a little so I could unbutton his pants. At the first touch of my hands, he started to grow and by the time I’d bared his groin, I had a nice length of hard cock to suck.

On my knees, I found I could get more of him inside my mouth. Flattening my tongue, I got another finger length into the back of my throat. I tucked that bit of knowledge aside and began to suck harder. I needed more of that sweet nectar to compliment my breakfast. He was making those breathy little groans again that turned me rock hard. His fingers had a death grip on my hair and I chuckled at the thought of him falling off the stool if he let go.

“Merry, Merry, Merry,” he chanted my name over and over until I sucked extra hard and liberated his seed.

He would have fallen off if I hadn’t hugged him close and held him up. Pip shook all over and when I let his shaft fall from my lips, he collapsed into my arms while his whole body shivered. I was content to hold him and let him rest. This was almost as good as licking him, just holding him safe from all harm.

“Oh, Merry, you’re the most wonderful hobbit in the whole world.” He dropped a kiss on my hair. “But you drank all of me and left me none.”

“Well, if you wish, you can drink me.” I tried for innocence but he laughed and pushed me back on the rug before the fire.

“How kind of you to have some ready for me.” He leaned over me and cupped the small sac that hung between my legs. “Oh my, how very big you are, Merry. You must have the biggest cock in the whole Shire.” Swiping his tongue across my crown, he teased me for a long moment then swallowed around me while I tried not to shout out loud.

It felt wonderful when he moved his tongue over the crown with a fluttering motion that drove me insane. I could feel a tingle start at my toes and move up my legs right to the shaft that was so hard it ached. Then he hummed a little and I exploded. The tingles were everywhere and I shivered again and again while I emptied myself into his eager mouth.

“You taste better and better, Merry.” He licked his lips and grinned at me. “But you look kind of tired now. Do you need another nap?”

I chuckled and pulled him down to me for another kiss. We tasted good together. I would have enjoyed staying there all day but he was right, we needed to see how Frodo and Sam were. Once we finished our kiss, we got up and dressed for the cold halls of the palace.

We tapped on the door and Legolas opened it for us. Aragorn was leaning over the bed and a cool fresh breeze seemed to be blowing through the room. It was the same one that had brought me back from the shadow world where I’d gone after I stabbed the Nazgul. I shivered a little, remembering how close I’d come to being lost. Pip must have felt the same way because he suddenly hugged me as if to make sure that I was all right.

“Merry, Pip, I’m glad you’re here.” Gandalf’s voice came from the other side of the bed. “Your friends will be fine eventually. How are the two of you?”

“We’re fine, Gandalf. Is there something we can do to help?” I led Pip closer to the bed, trying to see our friends but they were too high up.

Gimli boosted me up and Legolas lifted Pip onto the soft blanket. I looked at their still figures in horror at what they must have gone through. They were so thin that they looked like skeletons. Bruises covered their arms and torsos but it was Frodo’s poor hand that made me want to cry. His ring finger was missing. Sam looked bad but my cousin looked worse. How very hard their journey must have been.

“They look like they haven’t eaten in weeks.” Pip said quietly, sniffing a little.

“I don’t expect they’ve had very good rations since they reached Mordor.” Aragorn sighed and brushed a finger over Frodo’s cheek. “We are very lucky that we found them when we did. I’ve sent them deeper into a healing sleep. Their task is over and they saved us all. It’s our turn to take care of them.”

Legolas handed Pip a handkerchief to dry his tears and I reached forward to touch Sam’s hand. It was warm and that made me feel better. But when I moved over to Frodo, his arm was cool to the touch. I looked at Aragorn and saw him shake his head. It must have been that nasty ring that had sapped his vitality. I was glad, glad, glad that it had been destroyed.

I put an arm around Pip and he leaned into me with a sigh. We settled at the foot of the bed and watched our friends sleeping while the big folk spoke quietly at the side. I wanted to do something but there didn’t seem to be anything that we could do to help them heal faster. Still, I thought maybe they would know we were nearby even though they were asleep.

So I found Sam’s foot under the covers and stroked it while wishing him well. Pip held onto Frodo’s leg and closed his eyes to concentrate. His heart is bigger than the Shire and I was so lucky that he loved me. I smiled to myself and held him closer, resting my head on the curls on top of his head.

When the others broke from their chat, Aragorn left with a quiet good-by. Legolas and Gimli came over to talk with us while Gandalf settled himself by the bedside and pulled out his pipe. He suggested that we come back after dinner to spend some time with our friends while he went to a meeting outside the City. We agreed and left with Legolas and Gimli to their room. They invited us in for a bite of lunch, which we didn’t like to refuse. Besides, I had some questions.

We arranged the food around us like a picnic on the thick rug in front of the fire. Hot potatoes, roast rabbit and tart greens filled our stomachs while we eyed the fresh cherries and cream for desert. Our stomachs were soon full and Pip had lain down with his head in my lap for a little nap. Gimli lit his pipe and I breathed in the smoke with a smile. I needed to get a new pipe one of these days.

It didn’t seem that important at the moment.

I combed through Pip’s hair slowly petting him over and over. Looking up, I saw Legolas unbraiding Gimli’s hair. They looked kind of the way I felt, filled with wonder and love. “Um, could I ask you two a couple of questions?”

“Of course, Merry, ask away.” Legolas smiled at me and finally finished unbraiding the long dark hair beside him.

“I kind of wondered if . . . um, I saw some of the riders while we were coming here and I watched them . . . pleasure each other. But a couple of times, I think they were doing more than I could see.” I was blushing but I really wanted to know.

Gimli’s dark eyes smiled into mine while Legolas began to brush out his tresses. “Have you ever watched the Shires ponies when mating season begins?”

I nodded. “The stallion mounts the mare from behind.”

“Well, that’s one way that two males can mount each other. But a male only has one place where another male can plant his cock.” Gimli said carefully. “Picture it in your mind.”

Frowning, I pictured the ponies and the moment when the stallion reared up and began to stroke into the mare. But mares had . . . Oh. I thought about Pip on all fours in front of me and the small hole that we usually kept private. Oh my. Would a cock fit . . . through that tiny place?

“It fits . . . inside?”

“With great care and large amounts of oil or other slippery fluid to help you slide inside.” He turned his head just a little to smile at Legolas who returned it. “And stretching, Merry, your fingers need to slowly but surely stretch that entrance so there’s no pain when you come inside. Once inside, there’s a sweet spot that the cock stimulates.”

“Really.” I shook my head and thought about it for a little while. “And that feels good?”

“It feels wonderful, Merry. Especially when the person who’s coming inside of you loves you.” Gimli patted Legolas’ knee.

The Elf dropped a kiss on his head. “And it feels absolutely wonderful from the other side, as well. Time, care and love are all needed.”

“I see. We should take it slow.” I asked to make sure I had it right.

“Yes, Merry. You have all the time in the world to explore each other. Love will grow more each day and you’ll find what makes you feel good.” Legolas began to rebraid the hair he’d just brushed.

“Yes,” I brushed through Pip’s hair with my fingers. “I want to love him forever.”

“We are all very lucky to have found the other halves of our hearts.” Gimli said gruffly, shooting a soft look at his companion.

“Dwarves will become known wide and far as poets.” Legolas returned the look with a swift kiss to his cheek.

“Silly Elf.” Gimli chuckled.

“Sweet Dwarf.” Legolas batted his eyelashes at him and a tickle attack took place that woke Pip up from his nap.

It looked to me like loving was eminent and I had some ideas of my own to tell Pip about. “Thank you for lunch. We should be going. We’ll see you both tomorrow.”

Pip was still yawning when we left them playfully wrestling on the hearthrug. I could hardly wait to tell him about what I’d learned.

Or maybe I could just show him?

Chapter Text

******* Gimli *******

A week had gone by and still Frodo and Sam lingered in a healing trance. When it was our turn to sit with them, we gave their wasted bodies oil massages. Their deprivations were written in bruises and scars scattered from their heads to their toes. Frodo’s missing finger was healing but slowly. His hand would sometimes twitch and move as if it had a life of its own. He’d frown or sigh and sometimes a tear would well up and spill over his wan cheeks.

Legolas’ touch calmed him and his sleep would deepen for an hour or two. I usually worked on Sam and he would stretch beneath my hands before gravitating across the bed to his friend. They curled together much of the time, showing how their relationship had changed and grown on their journey. I wondered just how far friendship could go before it became love, physical love like Legolas and I shared.

The days were busy with meetings and hard physical labor. The war had damaged the walls of Minas Tirith and I led a squad of stone masons that were beginning the rebuilding. It felt good to work at creation rather than destruction. There had been a base of good Dwarf workmanship and my fellow workers were eager to produce more of that level of work.

Legolas was much in demand for his diplomatic skills and sometimes I feared that his labors were more arduous than my own. Stone doesn’t talk back to you the way that Men seem to have to. And talk and talk and talk. We’d meet back in our rooms and the first thing he’d do is kneel before me and lean in for a hug. I’d stroke his hair with hastily washed hands and say nothing at all, letting my hands speak for me.

Then we’d head for the lower levels for a bath and a soak in the large tub that slowly became the spot for unofficial chat. Somehow I always knew when he’d reached his limit and I’d pull him from the water for an unspecified appointment. Once back in our room, I’d lock the door behind us while he checked on what had been delivered for dinner.

The cooks of Minas Tirith were inspired and we always finished everything they provided. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, like my young friend Pippin, and there was always a cake or tart or custard for us to finish our dinner. We had picnics on the hearthrug or sat at the table and once we even had our meal in bed. Taking our time, we enjoyed our food all the while we touched each other.

Sometimes Legolas would feed me a morsel of bread or meat and I would lick his fingers in thanks. Everything was different since I acknowledged my love for him. The world seemed brighter, filled with amazing and impossible things. Each look and touch told me that I was loved and appreciated for who I was - Gimli, son of Gloin.

I’d worried about my callused fingers touching his fair skin but he’d told me in no uncertain terms that they gave him more pleasure than any other hand could give. He’d laugh and say fondly that my touch showed him my love each and every time we came together. Not to mention, the roughness reminded him of my craftsmanship. He was an odd one for sure but I loved him more each day and so accepted his strange love for me.

“Gimli, where are you?” His soft voice whispered against my throat. “Why do you smile and frown at the same time?”

“I was just thinking how odd it is that you love me but how grateful I am that you do.” I stroked his hair and felt his kiss in the hollow of my throat.

“Silly Gimli, I am the lucky one to have won the love of such a valiant Dwarf.” He raised up on one elbow and smiled down at me, one long finger tracing my lips. “And I think it’s time that you take the oil warming on the hearth and prepare me for your strong self.”

My cock thought that was a wonderful idea but my mind was still struggling with the belief that I would hurt him. He’d already been inside of me several times with that long, slender arrow of his. Nothing could possibly feel better than his magic wand connecting with that secret spot inside of me that gave me so much pleasure. But I was much thicker than he was although not as long, and I feared tearing that small entrance.

“It’s too soon, beloved.” I knew my eyes showed my fear all too plainly. “I’ve just started to loosen that guardian muscle.”

He pouted and kissed me so sweetly that I almost forgot his request. “Nay, my dearest dwarf, each time those talented fingers of yours breach me, the need for you grows greater. Being inside of you makes me feel like part of me has been missing for centuries but has now been found in you. I wish to feel that from the other side.”

And if truth were told, I craved that feeling, too. “I will stretch you some more and we will see if you are ready. Let me up so I can fetch the oil.”

“Beloved!” He kissed me hard before leaping up and crossing to the hearth for the sweet oil that we used on ourselves and the Halflings. Coming back to our bed, his sultry look warned me that he would be making it difficult for me to stay restrained.

But hurting him was not an option for me and I glowered sternly at him, taking the oil and motioning him onto his stomach. Merry had told us that a couple of pillows under the hips and stomach helped to relax the lover being taken. Pippin had blushed beet-red but nodded shyly when he realized what Merry had said. It still made me smile when I thought of the two youngsters who were exploring the same relationship that we were.

But my attention could never long wander when presented with the beauty spread out before me. Legolas’ legs were apart to entice me between them and I gazed in awe at the delectable feast before me. The pale globes of his ass invited my hands to stroke; the dangling balls, only two oddly enough, beckoned me to taste; the slim cock was already hard and slightly leaking; but it was the small pucker that drew my fingers closer.

Slicking both hands with the warm oil, I rubbed his entrance slowly until I judged him relaxed enough to venture inside. One finger breached him and I wiggled it in small circles that soon relaxed his lower back muscles. Those were the ones that told me if I was hurting him since he wouldn’t willingly say anything. When I pulled out my finger, the pucker spasmed open again for me and I tipped the bottle enough to get some oil directly within him.

He shivered and moved his hips enticingly. “Oh, that feels so odd, Gimli. The warmth feels wonderful but I’m so empty that only you can fill me up.”

“Don’t be so impatient, Legolas. Where’s that vaunted Elven patience, I’ve heard so much about?” I teased him before easing two fingers inside the tight hole.

His whole back rippled and he moaned. “Full, that feels so full. More, beloved, bring back the fire that only you can give me.”

I wiggled my fingers while my other hand stroked the firm balls that dangled between his legs. He sighed and tried to open his legs even wider. I slid my fingers as far in as they would go, all the while twisting them against the silken walls of his channel. They were so tight around me that part of me just knew how good they would feel around my rock hard cock.

No pain, I kept telling myself. There would be no pain for my love. Coming partially out, I folded a third finger into him and flexed. He went still and the muscles of his back tensed. If he couldn’t take three fingers, he’d never be able to take my cock. This might be as far as we could go for now. I flexed again and slowly began to glove his wilting cock. For a long moment, I thought it wouldn’t work.

But then he relaxed all over and seemed to suck my fingers deeper. I knew I’d brushed his sweet spot when his whole back flushed a rosy tint. His groan was satisfied rather than pained and I thanked all the Dwarven Gods for that.

“Oh, Gimli, it feels wonderful. You feel wonderful.” He pushed back a little to get more of me inside him but my fingers just weren’t any longer. “Come inside of me. Please, love, I need you.”

I bit my lip to try and stay calm, the little pain helping me to focus. “I’ll try it, love, but if there is pain like a tearing feel, you are to tell me at once. Promise?”

He chuckled and rocked back again. “I promise, beloved. But there won’t be any because I need you so.”

Now it was my turn to chuckle, “Impatient Elf. I will have you remember that Dwarves like to take their time.” I fisted my cock with an oily hand and moved closer to where I wanted to be. “We believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Pulling out my fingers, I placed the blunt crown against the spasming muscle and with one hard push, I was inside the tightest, hottest place in Middle-earth.

Legolas gripped me with his strong inner muscles and I waited for him to tell me if it was too much. Using both hands, I stroked his tense back and the downy mounds of his cheeks. It was so amazing to see my thick flesh disappearing inside of the tiny virgin hole. I leaned forward and began to place small nipping kisses up his spine.

“Oh, love, how very big you are and how very full I feel.” His voice almost sounded awestruck and I blushed. But the muscle felt a little less tense and I dared a tiny thrust that made him moan again. “More, Gimli. Give me all of you.”

I inched inside, slowly but surely staking my claim to him. He shuddered when I hit his sweet spot; the tremors squeezing around me like his fingers had been wont to do. Until finally I was in as far as I could get. I rested there for a long moment, savoring the feeling of being connected to him so intimately. My hands stroked his sides with soothing gestures that brought him comfort.

“You belong to me now, my dearest beloved Elf. For the rest of our lives, I wish nothing more than to stay connected to you just like this.” I laid a gentle kiss between his shoulder blades.

“Always, Gimli, I shall always want your strength and gentleness inside of me.” He sighed and flexed a little around me. “I shall be after you morning, noon and night to come inside of me and make me whole again.”

I chuckled and began to pull back until I was almost out of his snug depths. Holding his hips, I thrust slowly back in. “If we make love as often as that, there will be songs written about us and sung all over Middle-earth.”

My rhythm grew faster as he pushed back against me, helping me to impale him over and over again. His moans were breathy sounds that fired my blood and my body, until I was practically slamming into him with reckless abandon. Suddenly, without warning, he moaned and came without me even touching him. His climax triggered mine with powerful contractions and I flooded him with my seed.

I collapsed onto his back, buried deep within him while I tried to catch my breath and still my racing heart. I’d never come that hard in my life. Licking a salty patch of skin under my cheek, I contentedly thought about the future. Loving Legolas was now my reason for living, his love all that I needed or wanted.

“Dearest Gimli, how very well you love me. I think I may never move again.” His muffled voice sounded so sated that I had to smile.

“Well, I could tie you to the bed and make love to you for the next moon or so.” I licked that spot again before carefully biting down to create a loving bruise.

He shivered. “No force is necessary, beloved. I shall henceforth prepare myself with oil at all times so that when ever you feel the need to make love all you have to do is lower my breeches and slide right in.”

That very wanton picture of my limber Elf stroking his long fingers inside himself to prepare for me made my cock jerk and begin to harden again. “That sounds quite interesting, dearest Legolas.” I thrust my hips into his and pondered the miracle of my insatiability. “Perhaps I should carve a wooden plug the same size as my cock so you can wear it at all times?”

He clenched around me. “It is true what they say about the stamina of dwarves. How very lucky I am to have such an ever-ready lover. Oh there, Gimli, right there.”

I rocked slowly while my cock firmed to almost its former hardness. This time I’d be able to take my time. My seed had coated him so well that I slid in and out easily. I was afraid that I’d be too heavy for him so I pulled him up so he was on his hands and knees. That gave him more leverage also and he murmured my name over and over while I thrust into his sweet spot.

We must have made love for an hour or more until we both came again and I shrank enough to come out of him. His groan worried me, as did the slight red tinge of blood in the discharge that seeped from him. I left the bed to get the bowl of hot water on the hearth and the cloth that we’d used for cleanup before. Tenderly, I wiped him clean of the evidence of our loving; leaning in and kissing the tiny entrance that had given me such pleasure.

He shivered all over and I grinned before leaning back down and licking all around the slightly abraded hole. He tasted of himself and me, much like when we drank each other’s seed before kissing. Legolas trembled while I licked between his cheeks, down the tender skin to his balls. When I gently sucked one of the balls into my mouth, he keened loudly before burying his face in the pillow.

Humming around my mouthful, I tickled the ball with my tongue before letting it go and tasting the second one. He tasted good everywhere but that little hole kept beckoning me back to it. Rolling my tongue, I slipped inside the well-stretched pucker and fluttered it while he panted under me. With no one else did I feel so free to lick, nip or taste my way around a body other than my own. He’d freed a passion in me that I hadn’t known was there.

I couldn’t get enough of him but I was afraid of making him sorer than he already was so I finally drew back and calmed him with gentle caresses. He gathered his strength and rolled off the pillows, holding out his arms to draw me close. The pillows scattered to the floor and I had enough presence of mind to bring the blanket with me. I didn’t want him to catch a chill.

Looking into those beautiful dark eyes, I found my gaze caught and held.

“I love you, Gimli. How beautifully you love me.” He still looked somewhat dazed to me and I wanted to chuckle but was afraid that he’d take it the wrong way. Then he blushed and his eyes dropped to my lips. “Where did you learn that delicious trick with your tongue?”

“I just invented it because you taste so good.” I shrugged. “One of these days when we have nothing to do, I plan to taste you from your toes all the way up to your ears.”

He laughed out loud. “I shall hold you to that, my insatiable dwarf. Although, the thought is so intriguing that I may need to taste you also.”

I smiled. “Whatever I have is yours, Legolas Greenleaf. Every part of me craves your touch.”

“Oh, my dearest love,” his eyes brightened with tears and he cuddled close to me.

My arms hugged him tight and I slid one of my legs between his so that we touched everywhere. It truly was addicting to hold him. He satisfied all my appetites and had for quite some time; if I were very lucky, for the rest of our lives.

“Now, about this plug that you’re going to carve for me.” He looked guilelessly into my eyes. “I will help you take your measurements. Were you thinking of oak or mallorn? Perhaps, Treebeard would have some suggestions?”

I began to laugh while he joined in. Perhaps I’d have to take a look around the wood shops of Minas Tirith. I’d settle for nothing less than the best for my love.

Chapter Text

****** Merry *******

I was sitting by Frodo, telling him about breakfast when it happened.

He opened his eyes, looked at me and saw me. I mean, really saw me. His mouth shaped my name but no sound came out.

“Frodo! Thank goodness. Let me get Gandalf.” I told him and realized that he thought I was crazy. “He’s alive. Really alive. Just like you.” Hopping down from the bed, I ran for the hall. Gandalf was just coming in and he almost stepped on me. “Frodo’s awake.”

He strode for the side of the bed and touched his poor wounded hand. “My dear Frodo, how very kind of you to finally wake up.”

“Gandalf.” The cracked tones were so unlike Frodo’s normal voice that I winced. He was crying again but at least this time he was awake and probably knew where he was.

“You and Sam will be just fine, Frodo. You succeeded in your dire task and the world has been remade.” Gandalf stroked the limp hair and let him cry.

“Not me, Gandalf, I didn’t succeed in anything.” The cracked voice sounded so hopeless that I felt like crying myself.

And it all came out of him like poison from a wound. How they struggled all the way to Mount Doom. How they got inside and at the last moment Frodo put on the Ring to claim it. How Gollum of all creatures saved them both by biting off his poor finger before falling with the Ring into the abyss.

“I would have failed long before without Sam, my faithful friend who treated me better than I deserved.” The hopeless note rang in the room and I saw Sam stir before settling back in to sleep.

“He loves you very much, Frodo. I expect that he doesn’t consider anything too high a sacrifice for you.” Gandalf soothed him but the older hobbit shook his head.

“I failed but Gollum succeeded. Treat Sam as a hero for he is more heroic than you can ever know. But not me, never say that about me.” He closed those dull blue eyes and fell back asleep between one breath and the next.

Gandalf kept on stroking his hair gently and I sighed, bringing his eyes to me. “He can be extremely stubborn, Mr. Frodo Baggins can.”

He chuckled. “Indeed, the Hobbits can be an extremely stubborn people. But I think that Sam will win this battle, none the less. Gardeners are very good at waiting, biding their time and helping growth along. At the moment, I’m just glad that Frodo has finally awakened. I’ll sit with them awhile, Merry. I saw Pippin heading next door with a very heavy basket.”

“Lunch!” I said with satisfaction and jumped from the bed again to head next door. I could hardly wait to tell him the news. Closing the door behind me, I locked it the moment that I saw him half-undressed.

Then beginning to undress myself, I told him. “Pip, Frodo woke up for a moment. Gandalf is sitting with them.”

“Well, thank goodness.” Pip’s eyes lit up. “How is he?”

I threw my clothes in a heap at the foot of our big bed. “Depressed and wounded right in the heart.” I joined him at the small table and helped him divide our food up while I gave him a recitation of his sad story.

He sighed and shook his head at the grim tale but his optimism returned in a heartbeat. “We will see that he understands his true heroism. I couldn’t have done half as well with that horrid ring.”

Smiling at him, I shook my head. “No one could. He just can’t see it yet. Time heals and if I know Samwise, he’ll have something to do with helping him understand.”

Pip swallowed a mouthful of beans and grinned. “I wonder if Sam told Frodo how much he loves him? Do you think they’ve made love like we have?”

“I don’t know if they understand that they can.” It had taken me a while but thank goodness I’d realized how important Pip was to me. “But that’s all right. If they don’t, we can show them.”

He blushed and almost choked on his muffin. “Merry! I wouldn’t be able to do anything in front of someone else.”

“Really?” I eyed him and thought about that for a long moment while I finished my delicious sausage. “You wouldn’t enjoy getting all naked, like we are now? Maybe stroke each other slowly, showing them all those places that make us tingle? And how about kissing each other really deep, when our tongues slide together all slick and tasty?”

His eyes were so big that he looked like a little owl in daylight. “Merry, that’s very wicked.”

“You don’t like it when I kiss you?” I pouted and made a bet with myself that he’d be in my lap before I could reach for my tea.

I love it when I win a bet. Pip cuddled to my chest with his lips on mine, sharing muffin flavored kisses. I feasted on his sweet mouth while my hands found the butter on the table. Making sure that my fingers were well coated with the slippery stuff, I slid my hands between his cheeks and felt him quiver at the new touch.

“Oh, Merry, please, please, please.” He chanted, wiggling over my cock and trying to spread himself for me.

I’d been afraid that I would hurt him so we’d taken this new caress slowly. When I’d explained what Gimli and Legolas had said about further loving, he’d just looked at me with those big eyes of his and smiled so sweetly that my heart melted. He wanted me to go first so I’d begun by putting one finger in him. From the very first, he’d enjoyed it. In fact, he’d taken to tempting me by taking off his clothes whenever we were alone.

Sliding two fingers inside of him, I swallowed his moan while his arms slid around my neck. He wiggled over my cock until I was rock hard. Scattering kisses over my face, he squirmed until he was straddling me. With his legs sprawled far apart, I had easy access to his sweet hole. Coming out while he pouted, I got some more butter and stretched him a little more.

“Can you take me like this?” He pinched my nipples and I arched up, sliding through his crease.

“I don’t know. Let’s try it.” I coated my cock and held it against his entrance while he almost stood up before lowering himself onto me.

“Oh Merry, oh Merry, oh, you’re so big.” He shook all over but he kept on sitting down until I could get no further in. His eyes opened and the look of wonder there made me feel five feet tall. “My goodness, Merry, it feels like he’s going to come out of my stomach.”

Chuckling, I petted his too flat tummy. “I don’t think that’s possible, Pip. Does it feel all right otherwise?”

He pushed himself up a little before sitting back down again. “So good, Merry, it’s always good when you’re inside of me.”

“Only because it’s you, my sweet Pip. I couldn’t ever enjoy anyone else, not ever.” I thrust up experimentally and listened to him moan.

We made love for a long time before I finally laid him on his back on the table and finished us both with hard strokes inside and out. He squirted between us and I could hardly wait to lick him clean. Making love with him was more fun than anything else I’d ever done. I planned to keep on for the rest of my life.

Finally I slipped from him and he winced a little. “Merry, I think I’m laying on a fork.”

I lifted him immediately and carried him to our bed. “Well, that’s what happens when that wondrous dish known as ‘Pip the Took’ is on the menu.”

He began to giggle and I kissed him before going back to the table and the bowl of water we’d used earlier for washing our hands. I cleaned him up then joined him under the soft green blankets. He came into my arms immediately and kissed me hard. My hands pulled him as close as we could get while I sucked on his tongue. He’s the best kisser I know and I loved the way he tasted.

Finally we had to breathe and our eyes met while we touched foreheads. “Merry, do you really think that we should show them how to make love?”

I thought about it for a long moment. “I think that we may need to, sweetling. Frodo doesn’t think he’s worthy of being loved and Sam needs a little confidence in telling his master what he feels. Maybe we’ll just kiss each other in front of them. That would let them see the possibilities.”

“Hm-m-m, you’re right,” he said dreamily while his hands brushed soft caresses over my nipples. “I think we should start with hugging, then kissing then maybe we could take off just a couple pieces of clothing. You’re so beautiful that I like seeing your broad chest with these pretty nipples just begging for my lips.”

“Exhibitionist Pip, I don’t know if I want to share the sight of your sweet tummy. Although, if we were bathing together, I know that once they saw your perfect little cheeks,” I cupped the ones I was speaking of and brushed my fingers through the downy crease. “Well, they’d want to see more.”

He shivered all over and wiggled closer, his hand reaching down to coax me back to life. “Well, then they’d see this great . . . big . . . cock and they’d be so jealous that they’d just fall into each other’s arms to console each other.”

I laughed out loud. “Then while they were doing that, I’d have to sit you on the side of the tub and suck that pretty cock of yours into my mouth so I could nurse on you.”

“Oh, yes!” He smiled and wrapped his little hand around me. “And then, I’d have to return the favor.” He gripped and began to slide up and down my quickly hardening shaft. “Then when you were all nicely hot and hard, I’d turn around and brace myself on the side of the tub while you slide inside of me.”

He’d turned me on so badly that I was almost as hard as I’d been earlier. Pip grinned at me and pushed the blankets off of us before pulling away and getting up on all fours for me. I didn’t need another invitation and I knelt behind him, spreading his cheeks with my thumbs and nudging my crown against the spasming muscle. He pushed back impatiently and groaned as I slid inside.

“Yes! More, Merry, give me more.” He moved with me in counter point and this time our rhythm was hard and fast. But fast or slow, making love with Pip will always be my favorite thing to do.

Pip squeezed around me and my hand reached around his hip and began to stroke his cock. He gasped and began to squirt between my fingers, milking me of my own seed. I released inside of him and pulled us onto our sides so we could lie comfortably snuggled close. I kissed the back of his sweaty neck and licked my hand of his tasty seed. He giggled sleepily and we napped until I slipped from him naturally.

We needed a bath so we got up and dressed enough to walk through the public halls down to the lower level. Our favorite tub was empty and we climbed inside. Pip closed the outlet drain and I opened the pipe at the other end. The water gushed in and when the tub was a quarter full, I closed it so we wouldn’t drown. Pip already had the soap and a gleam in his eye so I stood still while he lathered me from head to toe.

He knows all my hot spots now so I was starting to harden again. But liberating the soap from him, I did my own cleaning of his tempting body. Our laughter echoed through the steamy rooms and once we were clean, we rinsed off and emptied the tub. It was still early enough that the big tub in the back was empty. So we padded over there and helped each other climb in. The ledge where Gimli usually sat was a little higher than the other carven seats and that’s the one place where it didn’t feel like we were in danger of drowning.

The heat relaxed us both and we leaned against each other, shoulder to shoulder. “Pip, when we get home and build a house for just the two of us, let’s make a tub just like this one.”

Pip sat up straight and suddenly I had an armful of lover. “Oh, Merry, I was so afraid that you’d say that we’d have to be apart when we went home. Can we really live together, just the two of us?”

I was flabbergasted and it took me a moment to get back my voice. “Well, of course, we’re going to live together. I love you and I’m never letting you out of my sight, Peregrin Took. The families will just have learn that we’re a team that can’t be broken up.”

He burst into tears and slid his arms around my neck, holding on almost as tight as I was holding him. I caught little bits and pieces of disjointed sentences. Rocking him slowly, I hummed a lullaby from when I was a little hobbit. When he was down to sniffles, I sat him back just a little so we could see each other.

“I’m never letting you go if that’s all right with you?” He nodded vigorously so I continued. “I’m thinking there is some Brandybuck land that juts up against some Took property over near Bags End. I am also thinking that two clever hobbits like ourselves could build a proper hobbit house with all the amenities. We’d be close to family and to Frodo and Sam. It’s going to be hard to go back to the Shire for the Ringbearers and we’d be a good buffer for them.”

“I think that you’re the smartest Hobbit in the whole of Middle-earth.” Pip said quietly but with the widest smile I’d ever seen on his dear face. “We could stay with Frodo at first while we are building then as soon as we’re snug, move out to our own home. Oh, it will be wonderful to live with you.”

“You won’t miss Miss Petunia Took, your cousin?” I teased him and he dimpled up at me.

“What about Hildebarta Cabbagepatch?” He teased me right back.

I pretended to think a moment and he immediately began to tickle me. We were laughing uncontrollably when someone else slid in beside us. Gimli’s deep voice asked us how we were and we told him about Frodo waking up. Legolas joined us then and I watched him sit down with a hiss. Gimli’s attention quickly went to him and he soon had his arm around the beautiful Elf.

We soaked quietly after that and made plans to have dinner out at Aragorn’s tent. The hot water made me sleepy and when I yawned for the second time Pip told the others farewell for now and helped me out. We dressed enough for the outer halls and hurried back to our room before going back to bed for a little nap.

Holding Pip close, I closed my eyes and dreamed of a snug Hobbit hole just big enough for two.

Chapter Text

******* Gimli ********

When the walls and stone grew too much for my lover, we left the bustling city for the forest that had grown up overnight. I still saw them as prime lumber but that’s not all I saw when I watched Legolas touching them with a lover’s touch. If I had a rival for his affections it was the forest that drew him like a magnet. Perhaps we had a kinship, these trees and me.

Havens knows we both bloomed for him. A friendly wind always seemed to move through their branches when he walked by. Even I could feel the peace that welled from roots thrust deep in good soil. Perhaps I would eventually become welcome for my own right rather than just on sufferance. Today had been one of those days when the walls seemed to close in on Legolas.

Aragorn had banished us from all meetings or planning sessions. I’d begged a basket of food and drink from the palace cooks and carried it while I followed him. In a sheltered glade, I found a comfortable spot to smoke my pipe and I settled against a sturdy tree while he wandered further into the forest.

My pipe had some new leaf that smelled rather fruity but didn’t taste that way so I stretched out to have a quiet think while he communed with the trees. The Hobbits had awakened to great honor but Frodo still bore the marks of his suffering. Sam had recovered completely although he was a little quieter than he’d been before. He was a fighter, young Sam was.

And at the moment, he was fighting for the soul of his beloved friend and master. The more that Frodo retreated into his fears, the harder he fought to bring him into the here and now. But it was an uphill battle and sometimes he faltered. Merry and Pippin did their best to brighten his spirit but a dark shadow seemed to hover behind those once innocent blue eyes.

Of all the Fellowship, I probably understood Frodo’s dilemma best. I looked at Legolas and saw a shining being too beautiful to ever really want a dour dwarf like me. Frodo saw only that he failed while Sam did not. He wasn’t good enough for the gentle spirit of the gardener who loved him or that’s what he probably thought deep in his heart. Blowing a smoke ring in the still air, I pondered how I could help him out of the trough of despair into which he was sinking.

Several rings later, I had a working plan. The others were being too nice to him, giving way to his moods and treating him like an invalid. I would sit down with him, far away from the others and give him a stern talking to. Frodo obviously felt a need to be punished and perhaps I could finally lance the boil of his pain. It would hurt us both but perhaps that was the price I’d have to pay to bring him back into this new world we’d created.

A panting Elf flung himself down beside me, his shining hair disordered and a smile on his gleaming face. “Oh, Gimli, thank you so much for bringing me so I could run free in this forest. I feel ten times better for it.”

“Only ten?” I said gruffly, setting my pipe safely aside before pulling him into my arms for a kiss.

His lips parted immediately and invited me inside to the sweetness that is Legolas. We feasted slowly on each other before breaking apart. I combed my fingers through his hair and listened to him purr. My world had narrowed to the beautiful love he showed me every day and paradoxically that widened my world a hundred-fold.

“That is a very strange look, Gimli.” He raised his hand to scratch the spot under my chin that itched some times. “What dark thoughts have passed through your mind?”

So I told him of my musings and tentative plan to take Frodo aside. He listened carefully and he thought about it, while I began to unlace the green leather laces that tied his heavy silk shirt closed. It had been almost three hours since I’d seen him naked and I felt the lack keenly.

“I think it might work although Merry and Pip have a plan of their own. Is there something you’d like, my love?” His smile was incandescent and those clever fingers attacked my wooden buttons with zeal.

Soon we’d thrown all caution aside and rolled naked on the soft grass under the sheltering trees. I cradled him with my body and felt those elegant fingers tease me to complete arousal. We’d made love once already today and I had plans for tonight also but right now it felt like the first time all over again. Turning was awkward but I managed to finally get his groin in front of me. His cock is an organ of great beauty and I settled in to worship it.

He shivered when I began to nibble up one side, being careful that I didn’t nip too hard. But it was my turn to shiver when I felt those pouty lips stretch around me. His tongue is much more agile than mine and the things he can do with it surpasses all belief. We dueled back and forth until I won his seed, drinking him down with relish.

“You are much too good at that,” he panted while gripping my cock with his hand.

“I plan to practice often to see if I can’t get better.” I said smugly and watched him dissolve into laughter.

Legolas surged up and over me, kissing and tickling as he came into my arms. These were the best times, when I held him close and surrounded myself with his scent and touch. His laughter was like music that I treasured more than jewels. Perhaps I wasn’t so dour after all, I thought while I chuckled at his teasing touch.

“Beloved Gimli, I have something to ask of you.” He stilled above me, resting his chin on folded arms and looking into my eyes.

“Ask away, friend Legolas.” I frowned a little and he smiled, taking a finger and smoothing away the wrinkle between my eyes.

“When we leave here, where do we go? Do we travel for the rest of our lives or do we find a place where we can live together?”

I pursed my lips and he promptly swooped to kiss them smooth. Only when I’d begun to smile again did he go back to waiting for my answer. “First we visit the Glittering Caves, one of the seven wonders of Middle-earth. Then we travel through Mirkwood, yet another wonder, so you can show me the trees where you grew up. Lastly, we find a place with trees and caves where we can live together for the rest of our lives.”

He had tears in his eyes when he gently kissed me. “I am glad that we feel the same way. Perhaps somewhere halfway between here and the Shire?”

“Sounds good.” I said gruffly, running my hands up over his shoulders. “We can build something on the ground for me and up in the trees for you.”

Legolas chuckled and rolled off me, springing to his feet to go and bring our picnic basket closer. The cooks had been generous and we unpacked meat and potato pies, with cooked greens for my finicky Elf and fresh baked bread. There was even a cherry tart for dessert. A flask of water provided our drink although I grumbled a bit over the lack of beer.

We ate slowly, savoring the fresh air and the good food. I watched the dreamy look in his eyes as they moved from the branches above to the soft grass below. Elves are natural creatures, or so I’d been told. Seeing his skin dappled with the sunbeams that filtered through the green cover over our heads, I thought it true. He wore nature well and I wondered what I looked like to him.

As if he’d heard my thought, his gaze came to me. “You are beautiful like this, Gimli. The sunlight makes you glow. I think we must find a spot where we can live naked all summer long. We’ll only put on clothing when visitors arrive.”

I chuckled at the thought. “It’s our home, we can just tell them to get naked, too.”

He laughed out loud and stalked me on hands and knees until we were nose to nose. “I will not share your strong body with anyone, my love. That would only lead to envy and dark thoughts if ever they beheld your wondrous cock.”

I’d never really softened earlier so his hand on my shaft reminded me that I hadn’t come yet. The slow slide up and down was hardening me to iron-like proportions. But the first wet kiss on my crown made me moan, it felt so good. The tickle of his long hair on my inner thighs teased me even higher. But when I felt his hand transferring something slippery onto me, I had to open my eyes to look down at him.

“Merry told me that butter has wonderfully useful qualities.” He grinned at me and I saw that he had indeed used that golden semi-liquid on my cock. Legolas pushed me down to the ground before straddling my hips and reaching behind him for my shaft.

“Wait, I didn’t get you ready yet.” I tried to stop him but he shook his head with a smile and forced my crown through his entrance.

“Oh,” he shook a little and I tensed myself, thinking that I was hurting him. But then he relaxed and slowly sat down on me until he rested on my thighs. “Dear Lady, every time feels like the first with you. I oiled myself before we came out here. I knew that I wanted you here, just like this.”

My hands rested on his thighs, stroking the smooth skin tenderly. “I see. Did you also think that this trip would provide me with the wood I need to carve a likeness of myself for you?”

His smile was saucy to say the least. “I need no substitute when I have the rock hard original just an arm’s length away.”

He flexed around me and used his strong thigh muscles to lift up just a little before sliding down again. The friction was delightful and I knew that this love session would last a good long time. We made love slowly under the trees and it did feel like the first time, perhaps because it was the first outdoor loving we’d indulged in. All I knew was that I felt lighter than air and freer than I’d ever been before.

Legolas had freed something in me that I didn’t recognize. But I liked it and wanted more, more of him anyway. The sunlight haloed his golden head and I watched in awe at the beauty that loved me. By now, I had hold of his shaft and his movements slid it back and forth in my grip. He was beginning the flush that told me he was close to coming and I began to thrust up when he came down. His moan told me that my aim was right on target and I did it again.

And again, until he froze above me and began to shoot his sweet seed into my hand. I was close but needed something more for my release. But I could wait until his shivers died down. He slowly opened his eyes and gazed down at me with that well-fucked look of satiation that I loved to see. Bringing my hand to my mouth, I licked it clean with deliberate broad strokes of my tongue.

“How nice of you to remember to bring my favorite dessert for our picnic.” I told him and watched him start to laugh. With a flex of muscle, I rolled until he was beneath me. I was still lodged deep within him and I brought his legs over my shoulders and dug my toes into the earth for the leverage I needed to stroke into him.

“I will always bring that dessert with me and you must tell me when you wish to indulge. I promise to make more every hour of every day for the rest of our lives.” He vowed quietly, his fingers stroking my long hair where it hung down over his stomach.

I chuckled and began thrusting slowly. His silken channel gripped me tighter than his hand had done earlier. Angling just right, I targeted the spot that gave us both such pleasure. He shook with my thrusts, his hands falling to the earth beside his hips so he wouldn’t pull too hard on my hair. His moans grew louder when I speeded up, the friction beginning to burn both of us.

His hands clawed the earth while he shuddered under my onslaught. My mind fragmented into sensation and I felt my balls draw up tight in preparation. Then they exploded, bursting forth from my cock and flooding him with my seed. I jerked with each explosion and he keened aloud before coming again against my stomach. All my strength disappeared along with my climax and I fell forward into his arms.

We panted through the small aftershocks and I kissed his throat in gratitude for his gift of self. I’d never felt this way before, not even when my sweet Griselda and I were first together. With a start, I realized that this was the first time that I’d thought of her in moons. Did I really think of her and Legolas in the same way? She had been my wife but Legolas was the wrong sex for that, not to mention the wrong race.

“Why a frown after such a beautiful bout of love?” His voice brought me back to the present.

I moved just enough so I could see him a little better. “What are we to each other, Legolas? Are we mated for life, foreswearing all others?”

“Yes!” He said quickly. “I have never given my heart and body to anyone before. I played a little as most youngsters do but that was before I met you.”

A warm glow suffused my whole body. I was his first and if I had any say in the matter, I would be his only. “I married long ago and lost her to the birthing fever. But not even Griselda had my entire heart and soul the way that you do. Thank you for that gift.”

“I am sorry for your loss, Gimli but thankful just the same that there is no other to keep you from my side.” He stroked my tangled hair back from my face. “I know it is important to the Dwarves that the males procreate for their race. Will that be a disappointment for you, not to have children?”

I thought about it for a moment, then got distracted by my cock slipping free from him. We both grimaced at that loss but it was easier to hold him now that we were no longer connected by my flesh. I held him tighter and did some of my own stroking back of his silken hair behind one delicately pointed ear.

“I will not give you up for anything, Legolas. There is a small regret that there will be no Glimmer, son of Gimli. But that is nothing compared to the pain and anguish I would feel without you.” I kissed him gently and let go of that dream. “I love you more than anyone else in Middle-earth and I always will.”

“Dearest Gimli, your vow humbles me and fills me with great pride at the same time.” He smiled ruefully. “If there were a way, I would carry that son for you. But know this, beloved, you shall never lack my love, not ever will you be alone.”

Hugging him close, I brushed a kiss over one fair cheek. “Nor shall you ever lack my love until death steals me from you.”

He shivered and held me tighter. “I will take you to the Havens before that can happen, Gimli. I will not lose you, now.”

I felt again the great and wondrous love that he wrapped around my soul. “Then I am content, Legolas and shall be forever.”

“Forever.” He vowed again and kissed me sweetly.

We rested together on the soft green grass with the dappled sun clothing us in green and gold. I thought about the improbable journey that led us to this place and a love like no other I had ever known. I was blessed with both friends and a future that I’d never expected. The Elf in my arms was my most treasured friend and lover. Suddenly, I had a vision of him pregnant with our child.

I began to laugh. “Legolas, are you sure that you couldn’t carry a child for us? You would look beautiful swollen with our son.”

He chuckled. “I would do so if I could, beloved. But as far as I know, no male Elf has ever carried a child to birth. However, I think we should practice you giving me your seed as often as possible. Maybe the age of miracles has not yet passed.”

We laughed comfortably together and I was content.

Chapter Text

***** Merry *******

Things were going from bad to worse. Sam was at his wit’s end and Frodo was beginning to hide from us. That was hard to do because with only four Hobbits in the whole City of Minas Tirith, somebody always knew where he was. The trick was to ask the right person. Pip and I talked about what to do but it was Sam who came to us with a request that finally solved the problem.

We’d joked together about showing them how but although Sam blushed ten shades of red, he still managed to ask us for our help in making Frodo see the love that was waiting for him. Pip asked Faramir for some help. We thought the baths would be perfect for a seduction but they weren’t private enough for what we had in mind. He didn’t even ask why we needed it, he just told the palace steward to prepare the bath that his late father had used.

High in one of the towers, it was a splendid room of green marble and dark woods. I took in enough supplies so we could stay for a day or more if we needed to. Pip got enough food for breakfast, lunch and dinner while Sam brought enough blankets and pillows to make four cozy nests. Hopefully, we’d only need to make two.

We told Legolas and Gimli what we had planned and they agreed to guard our privacy. Gandalf smiled and gave us four bottles of wine to take with us. Aragorn gave Sam a packet of herbs for the bath and a bottle of oil for massaging purposes. We were as ready as we would ever be so we tracked Frodo down and persuaded him to go exploring with us.

He tried so hard to be his normal self that it broke my heart. There was so much pain inside of him that he was turning into a wraith right before our eyes, one of the half dead who existed between sunlight and twilight. It just wasn’t fair for him to have to suffer like this but he was the only one who could let go of the terrible grief he carried in his heart.

Sam was determined to replace that grief with so much love there’d be no room for anything else. And Pip and I were going to help.

We wandered through the long corridors of stone, up the winding stair to the very top of the tower. The bathing chamber was truly magnificent and the early morning sun flooded the room with warmth and light. The tiles were warm beneath our feet and the fires were lit for the hot water so we were set. Frodo demurred when Pip exclaimed at the sunken tub and told us we should bathe.

I seconded the idea and Sam began removing his shirt with a look on his face that wouldn’t take no for an answer. When faced with a united front, Frodo slowly began to unbutton his shirt. Pip was naked first and he climbed into the tub and pushed in the stopper before turning on the water. I was done next and I joined him, letting the others have a little privacy. Hobbits bathed together all the time back in the Shire but I knew that Frodo was still rather shy about his body.

Sam came from a big family so he wasn’t shy at all. He handed over the small packet of herbs and I emptied it in the hot water that was filling the tub. Sweeter than meadow grass, it reminded me of a Shire summer day when we used to go to the river to swim after lunch. The bath was almost big enough to swim in as it was. Finally, Frodo’s curly head appeared over the side and he joined us with downcast eyes.

Sam slid in beside him and matter-of-factly grabbed a cake of soap to begin lathering himself. Pip had some too and he began to scrub my back while I watched Frodo peek at all of us. He didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands, finally settling them in front of his groin. Sam rinsed off and lathered his hands again to bathe Frodo.

“That’s all right, Sam. I can do that.” He sounded a little breathless and I chuckled silently. I knew how good it felt to have someone scrub all those hard to reach spots.

“Nonsense, Frodo, I’ll just scrub your back for you. Merry has the right idea.” Sam kept on washing the pale back in front of him. “Pip is doing a grand job of it.”

“Oh there, Pip,” I squirmed a little when he scratched the itchy spot between my shoulder blades. “Harder.”

He scratched harder while Frodo turned a very interesting shade of red. But Sam must have hit a good spot of his own because those blue eyes went a little unfocused and he sighed unconsciously. The smile on Sam’s face grew wider and he began a massage that must have felt wonderful if the look on Frodo’s face was any indication. But it was my turn now to wash Pip’s back and I took the soap with a gleam in my eye that matched his.

“Oh, Merry, that feels so good.” Pip sighed and wiggled all over. He’s a sensual little hobbit and I give thanks everyday for it. “Harder, Merry, it itches something fierce.”

I chuckled and scrubbed harder a little lower down before leaning in to nibble on his squeaky-clean ear lobe. He loves it when I nip there and tongue that spot behind his pretty little ear. Sam’s eyes were wide as he watched us but Frodo was still in that dream state where you don’t really notice anything. Pip spread his legs a little so I could slide my hands between them. As my mother always used to say, ‘cleanliness is next to a good strawberry tart’.

I tickled that spot behind his balls and he groaned loudly enough to bring Frodo’s attention back to the here and now. Those blue eyes widened in disbelief when he realized where my hands were and where my tongue was. He closed his eyes almost instantly but not quite completely.

“Well, it’s about time that you two realized that you love each other.” Sam said emphatically. He was washing Frodo’s right arm but his eyes were on us. “‘Twas as plain as the nose on your face, Merry Brandybuck, that Pippin belonged with you.”

“I know that I was dreadfully slow, Sam.” I had Pip’s cock in hand, slowly stroking it while he leaned back against me. “But when he got hurt, I realized that I loved him with all my heart and had for most of my life.”

“It’s more wonderful than anything I’ve ever known, Sam. Do you think us very bad, cousin Frodo?” Pip’s sweet voice had a little quiver in it that made me want to cuddle him close and never let go.

“N-n-no, of course not, Pippin.” Frodo didn’t know where to look but his eyes kept dropping down to where I was slowly teasing Pip’s cock to complete arousal. “Love is so precious,” he realized what he’d said and stopped for a moment before gathering his courage to continue. “Love is what binds our hearts together. It can never be wrong.”

“Really, Frodo?” Sam said quietly and got a little closer to his friend. “Then if I told you that I was in love with someone that would be all right?”

Frodo’s smile was sad. “I’ve always known that you and Rosie would make a match of it, Sam.”

“Not the person that I was speaking of, if you get my drift.” He answered and stopped washing in favor of holding.

Frodo gulped hard and turned to look at him. “Sam?”

“It’s always been you, Frodo. Since I was a wee lad, following you around and getting in your way.” Sam said bravely, one hand coming up to stroke the pale cheek before him.

But Frodo wasn’t quite ready to give in just yet. “Strong liking is not the same thing, Sam. I’m not someone that your Gaffer would approve of. Sometimes I think I don’t have a heart any longer, at least not one that feels anything but pain. You can’t love me, Sam. You deserve someone ever so much better.”

Pip was sniffing in my arms and I turned him so I could kiss away the tears. I shed a few myself while we waited for what Sam would say. The blond head tilted to one side in his thinking mode and I wondered how he’d get through to Frodo.

“Well, you’re right about the Gaffer. He’ll be a mite peeved with me, going ahead and falling in love without so much as a ‘by-your-leave’.” He shook his head and smiled. “But he’ll just have to learn to live with it. I’ve loved you all my life and even if you won’t let me show you how much, I’ll still be loving you every minute of every day. I’ll not be leaving you for Rosie or anybody else. You’re stuck with me forever, Frodo.”

“Oh, Sam, it’s very unfair of you to speak so when I must protect you from myself. I’m not good enough.” He wailed through his tears.

“Now that’s just foolishness, that is. If you can look me in the eye and tell me that you don’t love me in any fashion then I’ll go away and never trouble you again.” Sam said stoutly but his legs were trembling.

“I . . .” Frodo faltered and swallowed hard. “I . . . I can’t say that, Sam. I do love you and have for a very long time.” And with that, he burst into more tears.

“Thank goodness.” Sam said with a sigh and reached out to pull Frodo into his arms. The dark head rested on the offered shoulder and Sam’s strong hands soothed calming strokes down his back. “There, there now, Frodo, it will be all right. You just trust your Sam to steer us clear of the shoals ahead. Long as we’re together, we’ll get through just fine.”

His eyes came to mine and the shining joy was good to see. I gestured with the soap that we should continue on with our bath. He nodded and dropped a kiss on the curly hair beneath his chin. With one hand, he fished for the soap. Frodo stopped crying and bent for it at the same time.

Sniffing, he gave us all a watery smile. “It’s my turn, Sam. I want to wash you, now.”

“Good idea.” Sam said grinning fit to burst while hesitant hands soaped his body. The hot water and attention had started to make his groin grow and I saw Frodo’s eyes widen when they saw the shaft rise up.

I’d always heard that gardeners were good planters and I could well believe it. Sam’s cock was a real beauty, long and thick with a plum colored crown that begged to be licked. Frodo was eyeing it with trepidation and I decided to take a little of the shock away.

“Frodo, it feels really good when a soapy hand caresses a cock.” I made sure he saw me gloving Pip with a white lathered hand.

Hesitantly, he did the same to Sam and I watched our gardener half-close his eyes in enjoyment. He moaned a little and Frodo almost let go, but Sam kissed him instead. He reached down to return the favor and it was Frodo’s turn to groan. They had a good idea and Pip followed suit while we kissed. I’ll never get tired of kissing him and taking our time in the bath was so much fun that I vowed we would have one of our own as soon as we built our new home.

Sam was kissing Frodo so hard that when his cock burst, Frodo’s followed right after. No stamina was their problem. But it was their first time and I was sure they’d get better with practice. The water grew cloudy with their seed and I didn’t want to waste Pip’s in the bath so I pulled away from him reluctantly and gestured for him to finish washing.

A quick rinse and we were ready to get out of the tub. Climbing out, I dried Pip carefully. Then while I was on my knees, I leaned in and started the sucking that would bring me my favorite treat. He groaned and held my head while I bobbed up and down on his tasty cock. I could hear Sam and Frodo getting out of the tub but I was too busy to check and see if they were watching.

Pip suddenly burst in my mouth and I sucked hard to empty him, swallowing each delicious drop. He sighed and combed through my hair with trembling fingers. “You’re very good at that, Merry. I love you.”

I slurped a little while I made sure I got every single drop. “Love you too, Pip. You taste better than Farmer Dell’s rutabagas.”

He laughed and pulled me up to hug me. “I think you’re hungry, Merry. We better eat or you’ll be eyeing Sam’s pretty cock next.”

I looked over my shoulder with an air of appraisal. “It is pretty, Pip but I think Frodo should take over the tasting duties for Sam.”

They both blushed beet-red and looked shyly at each other. I chuckled and stood up to move over to the window area where we’d piled our supplies. Pip followed and we made a cozy nest for ourselves without bothering to get dressed. There were still a few things to teach our friends. My cock was hard and aching for Pip and he knew what I was thinking when I sat down and held out my hand.

He was there at once, sitting between my legs and taking me into his mouth. I leaned back and moaned a little at how good it felt. He scraped his teeth a bit along the edges of my crown and the near-pain felt good. I shivered a little and he hummed around me while my hips tried to come up. But he was sitting on them so all I could do was lie there and moan again.

His wicked little tongue was fluttering just under my crown and I knew that it would be all over quickly. Pip hummed again and I released with a loud groan. Falling flat on the blankets, I felt him sucking all my seed down while I relaxed. Opening my eyes finally, I saw Sam and Frodo watching us with wide eyes.

“Yes, it tastes good and yes, there is a trick or two to doing it.” I said kindly.

“Um-m-m, delicious-Merry, my very favorite drink.” Pip said with a giggle and flashed an impudent grin at our friends.

Growling, I pulled him up and into my arms for a kiss. We tasted good together but my stomach thought that something more was needed. So we unpacked one of the baskets and opened a bottle of Gandalf’s wine. It tasted like home and we raised a toast to the Shire but more importantly to friends.

Pip and I started feeding each other and Sam was quick to follow suit. Every move we made, he copied on Frodo. It was kind of sweet to see them begin to court each other, always checking to make sure that a touch was all right before moving on to another. Eating began to give way to lovemaking and pretty soon, I was hardening again. Not that Pip helped at all. Oh no, he just kept fluttering those long eyelashes of his and ‘dropping’ his food in my lap, my naked lap.

“Pip, did your mother never tell you not to play with your food?” I said as sternly as I could when faced with such soulful big eyes.

“I’m just clumsy, Merry. You know I’ve always been that way.” He said before smiling demurely at the strawberry in his hand.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at his innocent look, timing it just right so I swooped down and ate it right out of his hand. His pout was masterful but I had something better to eat. Pushing him onto the blankets, I nibbled at his pretty pink nipples while he moaned my name over and over. Wantonly, he spread his legs to coax me closer, his hands stroking my cock until I thought I’d burst.

“Oil, Merry, get the oil, please.” He moaned semi-coherently.

Were the other two ready for this? I risked a look and found Sam paying homage to Frodo’s nipples. “Sam, could you reach the oil in the basket by you?”

They both looked at us with glazed eyes but at my impatient look, Sam managed to find the bottle and pass it over. I opened it gingerly but the fragrance was light like the snowdrops of early spring. It was thicker than we’d been using but once I coated two fingers, I set it aside where we couldn’t accidentally knock it over.

Pip was impatient but I still took my time to stretch him well. When he wrapped his legs around my waist and tugged me closer, I took the hint and slicked my cock. Pushing against his opening, I surged inside my favorite place. He moaned long and loud, his hands pulling me closer until I was all the way inside.

We stilled for a moment while we kissed and he got used to me again. We liked this position best of all because we could still caress each other while I moved inside of him. And it was definitely time to move again.

********* Sam *********

Watching the two of them make love was a revelation to me. I’d never known how many ways there were to pleasure a body. Smiling down at Frodo’s wide-eyed stare at the two of them going at it, I felt like my heart was going to burst with joy. He’d said it and even better, he’d let me say it. He still wasn’t sure of me just yet or maybe it was himself he wasn’t sure of but that was all right. I was going to love him until he understood.

I leaned down and went back to kissing little circles around the rosy red nipples that peaked above his chest. He was still too thin but good food and no worries would soon set him right. Good loving was on the menu as well. A loud groan brought my eyes up in time to see Merry’s big cock slide slick as you please into Pip’s little hole. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I’d have never believed it.

Frodo was shivering and I cuddled him close and turned his face to me. He was blushing everywhere and I thought again how very beautiful he was. “Don’t you worry, Frodo, my love. We don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.”

He smiled shyly. “I want to do everything with you, Sam.” He risked another peek and so did I. Merry was moving in and out of Pip like it was a race and he meant to be the winner. Pip kept telling him to do it harder and faster but Merry just laughed at him and slowed down until his partner was giving him a truly heartrending pout.

Frodo chuckled a little and I kissed him again, just because I could. I wouldn’t ever take him for granted. Before we’d started this journey, I hadn’t known what I wanted except for wishing him to never be hurt. But now I did know and I wanted to taste him in the worst way. My tongue slipped inside his mouth and my breath grew short when I felt his touch mine. They slid together easily, tasting of strawberries and cream.

His hands touched my face and neck, making me feel so strong and brave that I could have wrestled the Dark Lord right to the ground. I needed more right now but we weren’t ready for the loving that Merry and Pip were demonstrating, although I tucked it away in the back of my mind for another day. But since his mouth tasted so good, I thought maybe his pretty shaft would also.

Moving real slow like down his body, I kissed every bit of skin I found. Each fading bruise and scar was licked clean until I came to the pretty pink cock that bobbed under my chin. Reaching out, I gripped him loosely and contemplated the small bead of fluid that glistened in the small slit of his crown. I’d seen a cock or two in my life but mostly on the ponies that grazed in the meadows near Bags End.

His was beautiful, straight and tinted the lightest shade of cream. His crown reminded me of a ripe cherry and I bent my head to suck the whole thing into my mouth. I didn’t want to hurt him and it took a moment to figure out what to do with my teeth. But pretty soon, I had most of him safe held while my tongue lapped at the tear that tasted so salty sweet. He was moaning almost in time with Pip and I looked up real quick to make sure it was pleasure, not pain that he was feeling.

His eyes looked kind of wild but his hands reached for me just the same. I remembered how Merry had bobbed up and down on Pip’s cock so I did the same. Frodo hiccuped and tried to thrust up but I had a good grip on his hips so he wouldn’t choke me and I kept control of our movements. In no time at all, he was releasing into my mouth and I sucked him down like mother’s milk.

He was shaking and crying at the same time but his smile was so bright it shone. Moving back up to hold him, I cuddled him close and kissed him. This time his tongue came into my mouth and slid around tasting himself on me. When we had to breathe, he stroked my cheek with his poor mutilated hand and shook his head.

“You’re a brave hobbit, Sam Gamgee. Are you sure that you don’t want sweet Rosie instead of a battered old hobbit?” He looked a little frightened of the future.

“Certain sure, Frodo. I’ve loved you all my life but I didn’t know how I loved you until the two of them showed me the way, if you catch my meaning?” I kissed the dimple in his chin and the soft skin under it until he arched his head back to give me more of him to kiss. “Going to kiss you everywhere, Frodo. Going to suck you every day and bathe you with my tongue until you get used to your old Sam being so forward.”

“Dearest Sam, you may be as forward as you like if you’ll only keep loving me.” His sigh was contented finally instead of sad.

I looked up and saw the smile on his face that I’d seen a time or two. It was the one that said I’d done something right and good. “I could no more stop loving you, Frodo, my dear, than I could plant onions in with the roses.”

He started to laugh and that sound brought tears of joy to my eyes. It would take time to heal all the wounds of this journey but he didn’t have to do it alone and he knew that now. And if he forgot, why then I’d just have to strip him down and remind him all over again. In fact, I might just have to do that anyway at least three times a day.

I grinned at him and started all over again.

Chapter Text

******* Gimli ********

I fidgeted a little, putting my finger between my stiff collar and neck. Who ever invented this kind of shirt should be taken out and beheaded. The damn thing was like to strangle me and I watched Pip do the same thing with his so I knew that I’d have help in my quest to punish the idiot who was putting us through this.

“Stop that, love. It’s not going to hurt you.” Legolas smiled down at me and I wished I could just throw him over my shoulder and escape from this never-ending ceremony.

“You don’t know that, you silly Elf. I think it’s tightening whenever I breathe in.” I cursed under my breath ferociously.

“Hold still, my stubborn Dwarf.” He peered down the back of my neck then did something to it that eased it completely. “Better?”

“You are a prince among Elves, Legolas. Do you think you could fix Pip’s, too?” I stretched a little for the first time since we’d come out here to the field to attend the coronation of the new king. If there was any justice in Middle-earth, he had on the same damn collar we did under his black and silver mail.

He chuckled and slipped over beside the Hobbits. All of them relaxed almost at once when he went behind each one doing his magic. My Legolas is a most canny Elf and I looked forward to peeling him out of his white tunic and breeches. Looking down at my own tunic, I kept my snort of disbelief to myself. White didn’t suit me at all and white velvet was just adding insult to injury.

Legolas returned to my side and I thought how beautiful he looked, like a fine beech bow glowing in the sun. I’d brushed his hair until it shone and spent long moments braiding it off his face. But I left it loose a little over the tops of his ears for I had no wish to share with any of these Men the beauty of his delicate points. He’d returned the favor to me, brushing my hair until it gleamed then braiding it down my back like an inky river down my spine.

Actually, I thought all of us looked quite wonderful. All eyes were on the King as they should be and I watched while Faramir brought out the white crown and offered it to him. But Aragorn handed it back and gestured to Frodo to take it and give it to Gandalf. That was fitting, I thought approvingly. Without the two of them, we’d have all ended up orc-chowder. Now if we could just hurry along and get to the good part of this celebration.

The beer! Not to mention the feast that had been cooking for the last three days.

I had it easy, I thought while we all trailed into the City we’d been living in for several weeks. I was a Dwarf and expected to frown and look stern. Maybe I could sneak away and get out of these silly clothes. Legolas had it much worse since they expected him to be the all-knowing mysterious Elf of legend. His smile was mesmerizing and everyone who was blessed by it tended to shake their heads and gaze longingly back at him.

On second thought, I’d better stay very, very close to him and practice my scowl on those idiots. I just hoped we didn’t have to stay and listen to all the speeches. There were sure to be lots of them. I groaned pitifully to myself and hoped for a cushion for the stone seats in the great hall where the dignitaries were meeting. And a mug of beer before they started.

It was going to be a long, long day.

******************

I hummed to myself while I watched Legolas laugh at Merry’s joke. The Fellowship had reunited for a private party after the day long celebrations. Up in the tower where the late Lord Denethor had lived, Aragorn had moved in and begun to make the place his own. Faramir had joined us for our memories of his brother and it seemed fitting that we were nine once again.

Sam sat on the hearthrug; his legs spread with Frodo between them and nestled against him. Merry and Pip were an arm length away in the same position. All the Hobbits had kept drinking the surprisingly good beer but at some point, I’d switched to something from a dark bottle that lightened my spirits considerably and almost made up for the longwinded speeches that had lasted most of the day.

Gandalf had a pint of something blue in his glass mug while Faramir and Aragorn were toasting each other with the same dark brew that I was drinking. My Elf was abstinent but then he usually was. He sat on the hearth stone near the Halflings, teaching them an Elven song that sounded almost familiar. Aragorn joined in on the chorus and I thought to myself that he’d never looked this relaxed before.

“Look,” Faramir’s muffled voice came from a corner of the room where he was rooting around in a dark cupboard. “More bottles.”

I got up to help him investigate the new supply of drink and we pulled out six dusty bottles of varying shapes and sizes. One of them was an intriguing six-sided bottle of some deep hued color with a fragment of label. “Who or what is Varya?”

Legolas looked up. “Varya was the name of one of the earliest Elf Clans. The name of their wood was Varyana. They were known for their healing cordials. The few recipes that remain are among Elrond’s most treasured scrolls.”

Aragorn took it from me and brought it closer to the light. “Most of the label is gone but the seal is still good. Gandalf, do you know anything about the Varyans?”

“They were renowned throughout the First Age for the healing centers that were open to all. The Varyan Healers were masters of herbology. They often combined herb lore and magic together to help those afflicted with mortal wounds or diseases.” He laid aside his pipe and his empty tankard to take the bottle from Aragorn. “The seal is intact but that doesn’t mean that the contents still couldn’t have evaporated.”

Faramir already had the corkscrew ready. I like a Man who’s prepared. Gandalf shrugged and handed it back to him. Moments later, the sound of a pop resounded through the room and it felt like a warm wind swept around us. The scent was not quite flowers or any herbs I’d ever smelled but rather the hint of green growing things after a
Spring rain. Everybody perked up and watched Faramir pour some into an empty glass on the ornate oak table that already held quite a few empty bottles.

It was a deep purple when he held it up to the candelabra. Aragorn took it from him and hesitantly sipped. A look of disgust wrinkled his whole face and he handed it to Gandalf.

The old wizard took a small amount and shook his head. “Interesting.”

Legolas was next but instead of making a face, he smiled delightedly and emptied the glass. “But no, it’s delicious. More.”

“Really?” Faramir refilled it and took a sip but his reaction mirrored his king’s.

I took it next and just took a drop. “Sharp . . . almost acidic. Not for this Dwarf.”

Pip tried it next but he grimaced. “Just like Dr. Dooworthy’s potions.”

Merry was after him and he obviously agreed with his mate. “The good doctor always said that it had to taste bad to work. I’ll bet this really works.”

Sam tried it next and frowned. “It’s got nettles in it and maybe heart’s ease.”

Frodo sat up and took the last mouthful. His eyes lit up and he smiled broadly. “No, Legolas is right. It tastes delicious. Like . . . like a summer day when the sun is warm but not hot and there’s a cool breeze from the river.”

My lover nodded. “Quite right, Frodo. Hand over that bottle, Faramir. Since it’s not to any of your tastes, Frodo and I will see that it doesn’t go to waste.”

I shook my head fondly and went back to drinking the dark liquor that Faramir called brandy. An hour went by while stories were told and laughed or cried over. I was on the hearthrug with Legolas between my legs, leaning back against me. He and Frodo had finished the purple cordial and now had a tendency to break into song and poetry at the oddest moments.

Never having seen an Elf in his cups before, I watched Legolas’ sunny humor turn silly. He and Frodo made a series of puns that grew progressively bawdier as time went on. Legolas’ fingers began to play with mine and suddenly, right in front of everybody he began to kiss each of my fingers. The shock of it went straight to my groin and I was suddenly rock hard.

He noticed, of course, and the smile he gave me over his shoulder heated my blood further. My Elf always smelled good to me but right then he smelled of desire and love. In a smoky low voice, he whispered in my ear. “Gimli, take me home and fuck me into the mattress.”

I almost came right then and there. Standing up, I pulled him up with me. “Time for bed, my friends. Tomorrow will come all too early.”

Legolas rose beside me and tossed a bewilderingly beautiful smile over his shoulder. The temperature in the room went up about a hundred degrees and I saw identical looks of lust on Gandalf, Aragorn and Faramir’s faces. I would have growled but just then, Frodo jumped up, too.

“Time for bed, Sam. Let’s go now.” The sultry smile on his face matched the one my lover wore and it looked like Sam had the same reaction that I was having with Merry and Pip not far behind.

We left in a rush and almost ran down the stairs to fourth level. With hasty goodnights, we separated for our own rooms. I no more had the door closed and locked behind us then Legolas began stripping out of his pretty white velvet outfit. His languid movements fired my blood and I ripped off my own clothes, leaving them where they fell.

“I think I know what that cordial was for, sweet Gimli.” He crossed to the bed and stretched sinuously before lying down. His eyes drew me across the room and into his arms. “I think it was a love potion and it’s working. Fuck me now. Fuck me hard.”

His kiss burned through me like a firestorm of desire. He was hot and achingly open to me and I almost dropped the bottle of oil that we kept by the bed. The need to take him warred with my need to not hurt him and I barely had him stretched before he rolled me onto my back and sat down on me with a single thrust that made him howl.

The first bout was hard and fast, his muscles flexing around me while I thrust up with all my strength. We came together but if I’d thought to rest, I was sadly mistaken. He leaned in and kissed me savagely, almost drawing blood with his nip at my lower lip. A purr from deep in his throat hardened me in a heartbeat. Then his fingers pinched my nipples and it was my turn to howl.

“More, Gimli. Don’t hold back your passion from me.” His pupils were so wide that little color remained. “Love me with all of you.”

I rolled him onto his back and split his legs apart to come back inside of him. One thrust and I’d impaled him on my re-hardened cock. He writhed beneath me, panting my name over and over again. Digging my toes into the mattress, I began to stroke in and out of him with the hard, pounding thrusts I’d been afraid to give him. But he’d known that I was holding back and his moans were triumphant when I gave him what he wanted.

He’d never felt this hot before nor so tight and I was rapidly loosing what little rational thought I had left. My fingers were going to leave bruises on his legs but it didn’t seem to matter to him. Each thrust felt deeper to me until it felt like I was going to come so far inside that I’d never find my way out. Suddenly he burst between us and that pulled my seed from me with a hard burst that made me lightheaded.

Sighing, I fell forward into his arms, which came up to cradle me against his heaving chest. The silence was electric and I had a sudden vision of the entire palace listening to our cries of ecstasy. My cheek rested near a nipple and I swiped it with my tongue with the very last of my energy. I slipped from him and he moaned a low sob that raised the hair on the back of my neck.

“Legolas?” I rose to look at him and his eyes were wet.

“More, Gimli, please give me more.” He practically sobbed. “I need all of you now, right now.”

“Beloved, I’ve emptied two of my balls tonight and the third will do you no good.” It had been over fifty years since I’d emptied all of them and that had been with Griselda. I truly didn’t know if I could get it up again without a rest.

“Please, my love, fill me again. I need you so badly.” He was panting and beginning to flush from his pretty toes all the way up to his delicate ears. “Please more, love, please. Give me that beautiful cock again. I’ll help.”

He slithered out from under me while I sat back on my heels and wondered at his insistence. That old cordial must have grown more potent with age, I decided. But then his mouth was sucking insistently on my spent shaft and wonder of wonders, I was rising again. Leaving me finally, hard and aching, he sat up and kissed me with a little more love and a little less passion.

I cupped his face in my callused hands and held him there while our tongues met and danced from my mouth to his and back again. His fingers kept stroking me with his slippery seed until I caught fire again. He turned and went to all fours, his spasming pucker inviting me in for the third time. No preparation was needed and I slid in with a sigh of relief. His sigh echoed my own and we stayed like that for a long moment before I began to rock in and out of his clutching channel.

For some reason, impatience left us both and I settled in for the long smooth strokes that we liked best. My body burned a little hotter with each thrust and he seemed to tighten around me like a clinging leather glove. Within a few moments, he was moaning again.

“So good, beloved, so very good. Deeper, Gimli, fill this empty space inside of me. Oh, yes, there, my virile love. More, my sweet dwarf, remind me that I am the lover of the most powerful male in this whole . . . fucking . . . palace.” He growled just a little and that sound went straight to my cock.

Gripping his slender hips with my hands, I began to thrust harder while targeting his sweet spot. He keened aloud and pushed back wantonly. My vision began to blur and the world grew smaller but more intense. We were the only two people who existed. All I knew was tight heat and a pulse that grew louder in the stillness of our bed. Both of us were growling and the urge to come was growing with each passing moment.

The need to mark him came to me between one heartbeat and the next. I looked at his lean back, shining now with the sweat of our lovemaking. Just under the left shoulder blade, his skin called to me. Leaning in with a hard thrust, I licked the patch of skin then bit down hard enough to draw blood.

He howled and clenched so hard around me that I buried myself in his channel and for the first time in years, emptied my third ball. Legolas passed out and fell to the wrinkled sheets, taking me with him. Glued to him with sweat and seed, I rested along his back, still lodged deep inside. My brain didn’t seem to want to do anything but relive the amazing events of the last few hours. That was one Haven of a love potion, I thought tiredly. Under my ear, the reassuring sound of his slowing heart sent me right to sleep.

Chapter Text

******* Sam *******

I’d never seen Frodo like this before. His blue eyes sparkled and he seemed to have a dozen hands that were all intent on stripping me bare and getting me into bed. We’d gone real slow-like since we weren’t really sure what we were doing. I’d spoken with Merry privately and he’d been real good at passing on tips about careful preparation.

Kind of like preparing a new seed bed before planting your seeds. Or your onion bulbs. We’d stretched each other real carefully with that oil that Gandalf had made up. But even so, when Frodo came inside of me, it had hurt a little. He moved slowly until I relaxed a bit but I sure did wonder why Pippin had gone so wild. Until after a while he found that spot inside of me that Merry told us about and I’d gone all shivery.

Goodness gracious me, he felt like lightning zipping through my whole body. I tingled in places that I didn’t even know I had. He was kind of scared when I flushed all over and moaned but I convinced him to keep on going so he did. I wanted so bad to cry out but I knew that would really scare him so I panted instead all the time he kept on moving in and out of me until I like to exploded like a fireworks show.

That surprised him and I felt him come inside of me, flooding me with his hot seed. That almost felt better than his moving; to know that I had part of him safe held within me. He’d fallen onto my back and I eased us down onto the bed, wishing that I could see him and hold him. But after he finally shrank and came out on his own, I turned around and hugged him tight.

Frodo had tears on his cheeks and he was real anxious to know that he hadn’t hurt me. So I told him the truth about it being kind of full at first but real good when he found that sweet spot. He wanted me to show him but I’d come so hard that it would be a while before I could come again. And I had some misgivings about whether or not I’d fit inside that tiny hole of his.

I’m not one for bragging or telling tall tales but I was bigger than he was. I’ve never been one for comparing myself to others but a time or three I’d seen others in the all together and they always looked real surprised when they saw my privates. Until I saw Merry in the bath, I’d never seen another Hobbit lad bigger than me. I’m thinking that the Ent drink they told us about had grown Merry a little bigger all over, if you get my drift.

But now wasn’t the time to be thinking about the last few days, not when Frodo was standing in front of me, naked as the day he was born and glowing so bright he almost hurt my eyes. I’d always thought he was the most beautiful Hobbit in the whole Shire but now he was even more so. His blue eyes shimmered and for a moment I could have sworn that his ears pointed . . . just a little.

Maybe there was something in that tale about the Baggins’ having Elf blood.

“Sam, where are you?” His sweet voice interrupted my muddled thoughts and I realized that we were both naked and he was leading us to our big bed.

“Sorry, Frodo, I was wool-gathering.” I watched him climb the steps to the bed and suddenly needed to touch him everywhere. “You’re the most beautiful Hobbit in all of Middle-earth.”

He blushed and sat down on the soft mattress with a thump. “I’m not, Sam but would you think me very selfish if I said that I’m glad that you think so?”

“You couldn’t be selfish if you tried.” I told him firmly.

Shaking his curly head, he smiled and held out his hand to pull me into his arms. “I am the most selfish Hobbit in Middle-earth because I want to keep you all to myself for ever and ever. I refuse to let you go even though I know you deserve someone ever so much better than me.”

I kissed him real gentle like but firm at the same time. That kind of talk was just silly and so I’d tell him once I finished tasting his sweet mouth. The purple stuff he and Legolas had been drinking was much sweeter when combined with his own lovely taste. I enjoyed kissing him and probably would until the day I died.

“Hm-m-m, Sam, I love kissing you, holding you and making love to you.” His soft murmur made my heart glad and I held him a little tighter.

“I do too, Frodo, my love. What do you want tonight?” I looked down into his eyes and watched him smile.

“You. I want you tonight, safe inside of me.” He had a hold of my cock and his touch had turned it to iron-oak, the way it always did. “I’m so relaxed that you can’t hurt me, dear sweet Sam. I need you very . . . very badly.”

I hesitated a moment but truth be told, I wanted him real badly, too. “You’re sure, Frodo? I’d hate myself if I ever hurt you.”

His smile was like a sunrise over the meadow. “You could never hurt me, Sam. Everything you do, you do with so much love and devotion that I’m blessed a dozen times over. I’m the luckiest Hobbit in Middle-earth that you love me.”

I had to kiss him again and again and again. He couldn’t know how very easy it was to love him or how long I’d been doing it with all my heart. But I had some stretching to do if I was going to come inside of him so I reached for the bottle of oil that we kept on the bedside table. Frodo wiggled all over and turned to pile the pillows under him so he was all ready for me.

Taking my time was hard, especially when he started moaning. But he really was more relaxed than he’d ever been before and I soon had three fingers stretching him. He caught his breath when I brushed against his sweet spot and flexed around me until I thought I’d go right out of my mind with wanting and he pleaded with me to come inside of him right now.

So, I slicked myself up and began to rock against his rosy pucker, still half-afraid that I was going to hurt him. But he was impatient and he pushed back hard, popping my crown right into the tightest place I’d ever been. He moaned a little but it didn’t sound like a painful moan.

“Oh, Sam.” He relaxed around me. “Oh Sam, you feel so good. Give me all of you, my dear . . . wonderful . . . loving Sam.”

He punctuated each word with a little clench until I just had to move. Sliding into Frodo wasn’t like anything I’d ever known before. He was so tight and hot that I could feel his channel ripple around me. But when I hit his sweet spot, he flushed from head to toe and moaned so sweetly that I just had to grin.

“Frodo, my dear, how do you feel now?” I kissed the back of his neck and nuzzled behind his ear, making him shiver all around me.

“Filled. Very, very filled with your beautiful cock.” He spoke real dreamy like and he turned his head just far enough so I could see those shining blue eyes of his. “I’d like you to slowly but surely plant your seed so far inside of me that they’ll take root and grow little Sam-lings.”

I chuckled and started to pull back so I could thrust in a little harder. “If we could make babies together, I’d surely like to, my beautiful Frodo. Your babies would be the prettiest in the whole Shire.”

“Well, don’t forget your common sense and affinity for the soil, sweet Sam. They’d need to inherit those wonderful traits for I’d not want them to be lazy dreamers like me.” He wiggled just a bit when I hit his sweet spot.

“You are not a lazy dreamer, Frodo.” I scolded him real gentle-like. “You’re a real educated Hobbit who sees right to the heart of things and I want our babies to inherit that sense of wonder.”

He chuckled, too. “Should we ever have babies, Sam, they’ll be orphans who come with all their own little quirks and foibles. We shall accept what comes and be thankful for them. Oh, there, Sam. Right there.”

I started moving a little faster now and he was up on all fours, pushing back against me to hurry me up. We were both panting hard but somehow he got ahead of me and I felt him burst in my hand, all those inner muscles milking me almost to the point of pain. But for some reason, I didn’t come and he knew it.

“Sam, could we change positions, please?” He asked with an awkward look over his shoulder. “I want to kiss you while we make love.”

And suddenly that’s what I wanted too so I real careful-like backed out of him, coming out with a little ‘popping’ sound that had us both giggling. He pulled all the pillows out from under him and turned around to kiss me again. He surely did taste good and the more I had of him, the more I wanted. I felt his hand moving mine to my shaft and we real carefully spread his slick seed over me so I wouldn’t hurt him.

“Back inside of me, Sam, I feel so empty.” He fell back and pulled me with him.

I put his legs over my shoulders, the way that I’d seen Merry do to Pippin and I guided myself back to his little hole, pushing in with a real hard thrust. He moaned a little but it was a happy moan that went with his pretty smile. I slid in all the way and leaned down to kiss him. His lips opened and I thrust inside there, too. He was hot both places and I felt like the luckiest Hobbit in the Shire to have him love me.

We took it real slow and I rocked in and out of him while he began to harden again between our stomachs. Every time we had to breathe, I’d make sure that he was okay with our position. Merry had told us that this was their favorite because they could touch and kiss each other. I could see why now that I had Frodo like this. It felt closer somehow when we had our arms around each other. After a bit, I moved his legs down to my waist and he smiled up at me while he locked his ankles and pulled me in tighter.

I was beginning to strain a little and my thrusts grew shorter and harder. He was panting in my ear and suddenly he sucked my lobe right into his mouth and bit down. It wasn’t all that hard but the sharp pang sent a thrill through my whole body and I thrust once more and came deep inside of him. He sighed real quiet like and I felt him hug me close.

“My own Sam, how very glad I am that you love me.”

“My own Frodo, you’ll get tired of me telling you how much I love you.” I licked his ear and nuzzled again at that sweet spot under it.

“Never, Sam, I could never get tired of knowing you’ve chosen me to love.” He sighed again but with a smile in his voice. “I am your very own private garden and I want you to keep planting me until I bloom for you.”

That was a very wanton picture I suddenly had of him lying on the sun warmed soil, all naked and oiled. All ready for me to come and plant my seed deep in the fertile center of his body. Damned if my shaft didn’t come back to life at that wondrous picture and I began to harden again while I was still buried in him.

He felt it, of course, and he laughed out loud. “Dearest Sam, how very good your tool is, already getting ready to plow me again.”

“Ah, well, the Gaffer always told me that if you took care of your tools, they’d take care of you.” I kissed my way down his long elegant neck, nipping just a little while he moaned happily. “Some seedlings need to be encouraged now and then, so I may have to plant this batch a little deeper.”

“Hm-m-m, Sam.” He was murmuring encouragement into the curls on top of my head. “Everyday, you’ll have to go in with your very ready tool to check on them. Maybe hoe around them very thoroughly and water them with your very special mixture.”

“Fertilizing.” I sucked hard on the hollow at the base of his throat and he sighed. “Maybe some raking to let air in.”

“Oh yes, raking with those clever fingers of yours, making sure that your garden is ready for your seeds.” He lifted his hips a little and that felt wonderful. “Then you’ll have to dig really deep to get your . . . root where it will do the most good.”

“Staking my claim, as it were.” I held on to his slender hips and thrust harder. “Straight rows are important when you’re tilling a garden. You’re so hot inside, Frodo, that I’ll be able to cultivate a very special crop of flowers.”

“Oh, Sam. I’ll be your very own meadow if you’ll only keep tilling . . . plowing . . . planting me every day for the rest of our lives.” His sky-blue eyes sparkled with tears but his smile was a real blessing.

We rocked together over and over until he seized around me and I flooded him with my seed. Resting together, I finally eased from him and slid out of bed to get a warm wet cloth to clean him. He murmured my name sleepily when I washed him and checked to make sure that I hadn’t been too rough. Other than a little redness, he looked all right and soon he was cuddled up real close to me under the warm blankets.

I sighed happily and thought about loving Frodo. Now that I’d loved him and he’d loved me, the whole world was changed. What it would be like to live with Frodo in Bags End? For the first time, I really thought about that and my mind faltered. The rest of the Shire hadn’t lived through the events that we had. Something inside of both of us had changed in Mordor.

What would the others think of us? Would they accept me, Mr. Baggin’s gardener, as Frodo’s chosen companion? What were we now? We couldn’t marry each other but perhaps we could live together without saying anything. I frowned at that thought. I didn’t want to hide anything about us. I was proud that he loved me, so proud that I was in danger of bursting my buttons.

“Sam, what are you thinking so hard about?” His voice interrupted my bad thoughts so I told him of them. He raised up on one elbow and looked down at me with a troubled smile. “I was hoping that we could live near the Shire but not exactly in it. I know your family is there and we need to go to visit them but I don’t know if I can live there again. I’ve changed out of all recognition to myself and surely they will see those changes, too.”

“Not live in the Shire?” I thought about that in dismay. Not see the Gaffer everyday or visit my sisters or the rest of the family? I looked over in time to see Frodo bite his lip, the way he did before when he was afraid but trying not to show it. And I didn’t want to ever see him afraid again. “I want to visit but I think you’re right. I’m thinking that Merry and Pippin will want a place of their own, too. And maybe even Legolas and Gimli since I don’t think either one of them could live with just the Dwarves or the Elves.”

His smile was blinding bright and he hugged me tight. “Oh, yes! Thank you, Sam. I was thinking that myself. Maybe we could start a new home where everyone would be welcome, Hobbits and Elves and Dwarves and Men. Maybe even an Ent or two could come and live with us.”

“Now that’s something I truly do want to see before we travel home.” I sighed and pulled him right into my side so we were cuddled close. “So many wonders in Middle-earth and we’ve seen our share. Although, I do wish I could have seen an oliphaunt just once.”

He chuckled and fell back asleep with a murmur of my name. I followed him and dreamed of a garden of wondrous flowers in every color imaginable.

Chapter Text

******* Gimli ********

I watched Legolas throw up into the pottery bowl for the fourth morning in a row and worried a little harder. He said that he was fine but he was down to eating bread and clear broth. I’d searched the markets for fruit and greens that he might be able to keep down but so far only the peaches had stayed down. He’d eaten one and enjoyed it immensely. So, I’d gone back and bought out the entire bushel from the old woman hunched over her wares in the bright yellow and red booth.

Frodo had gone off his feed also and I know Sam was worried about him. But peaches seemed to appeal to him too so between the two of them none went to waste. I dipped a cloth into some cool water and bathed Legolas’ face with it. I’d learned to have a glass of water waiting for him to sip after one of these bouts and I held it out mutely for him to take or not.

His face was so pale that it frightened me. All the beautiful golden color had leached away, leaving him wan and drawn. But he still managed a smile for me when he took the glass. “Thank you, beloved. I think it’s not so bad today.”

He’d been saying that for the last four days and I nodded as if I believed him. But I was more determined than ever that when the Elves came bringing Arwen to marry Aragorn, I’d have their healer look at him. I’d included a message to Elrond when our king sent word to them and hopefully he’d heed my words and bring one with him.

Legolas sipped at the water and I held him close, my head resting on the fair hair that I loved to brush. If we could just get through this morning, he usually felt better by the afternoon. He leaned back against me and I hugged him tighter. “Perhaps, just this once, you’d go back to bed for a little nap. You were restless most of the night.”

“Nay, I just need a few moments to settle my stomach then I’ll go see how Frodo is.” He smiled and sipped a little more water.

A knock at our door made me let go of him and I did so reluctantly, crossing the cool granite tiles to the sturdy oaken door. “Sam, good morning. How’s Frodo?”

The Hobbit nodded with a frown on his face. “A little better, Gimli. I thought of an old Shire remedy for stomach upsets and brewed up some of it for him to drink. It stayed down all right and he feels like getting up. So, I brought some for Legolas, in case it might help Elves, too.”

“Thank you, Sam. We’ll try anything at this point.” I nodded gratefully and we exchanged a look of pure comradeship. He brought the covered pot in and over to the fire where Legolas was still sipping his water.

Once he traded the water for a cup of the amber tea, he perked up almost at once. I could smell a fruity aroma about it but his smile was almost back to his normal brightness. “Sam, what a wonderful thought. Raspberry leaf tea is an old Elven remedy as well. I’d forgotten all about it. Usually it’s a woman’s panacea for the nausea of childbearing.”

“Aye, it’s used for that in the Shire, too. But it can be used for general nausea and hangovers as well.” Sam smiled happily. “Some of those salty biscuits help a treat when Frodo is feeling real bad. I wish the Houses of Healing knew what was wrong with the two of you.”

My lover patted his hand. “Frodo is still recovering from the deprivations of your journey. As for me,” he shrugged, “I just have a touch of the summer sickness, I expect.”

I kept my mouth shut with a real effort. I didn’t think it was the summer that had anything to do with it. Somewhere deep inside of me, I was afraid that it was loving me that had brought on this sickness. That a remedy might mean we’d have to part was a thought that tore me to shreds. I’d spoken to Gandalf the night before and he’d promised to think on it.

What good was a wizard if he couldn’t find solutions to dire problems?

Perhaps I was over-reacting but the fear of losing him grew with each day of sickness. Was I cursed to always lose the one I loved? Usually I could dismiss such a foolish notion but not now. Not when the other half of my soul was hurting. Another knock on the door sent me back to open it. This time it was Gandalf and Frodo.

“I’ve done some research, my friends.” The wizard looked a little strange and an arrow of fear struck my heart. “Let’s sit down and I’ll explain.”

He took the chair near the fire while I sat on the hearthstone so I could cradle Legolas between my legs and hold him tight. Sam and Frodo sat side by side, holding hands.

“Well now, I have to first say that there is nothing wrong with either of you. If I am correct, what is happening is just the normal progression of a condition that usually doesn’t effect male Hobbits or Elves.” He stopped and reached for his pipe but quickly put it away when my lover turned a pale green.

Clearing his throat once or twice, he continued. “Perfectly normal. That is . . .”

I glared at his unaccustomed mumbling. “What, Gandalf? What is perfectly normal?”

His eyes went from the Hobbits to us then back again. “Well, I think it might be best if I showed you. There’s a small spell that will tell us for sure if what I conjecture is happening, really is . . . happening.”

Legolas sighed impatiently. “Then cast the spell and be done with it.”

Frodo agreed. “It’s better to know than to just keep on throwing up for no apparent reason. Will it hurt?”

“No, not at all. It’s more of an aura reading than anything else, a spell to show what condition your body is in.” Gandalf sat up a little straighter and got nods from all of us. He closed his eyes and murmured something under his breath then I felt the air tingle and thicken around Legolas.

I didn’t let go of him but watched in awe at the cascade of colors that now encircled him from head to toe. Most of his body shone with a pale pink light but his stomach glowed a deep purple, almost the same color as the old cordial he’d drunk two moons before. I looked over and saw the same thing over Frodo’s stomach, wondering with a sick feeling in my own middle if the wine had been poisoned.

“Well, I was right.” Gandalf looked shocked and relieved at the same time. He cleared his throat a couple of times then began to smile. “Elrond should be bringing the Varyan scrolls with him and we can hopefully read up on this condition before too much time passes.”

“What condition?” I got out through gritted teeth. Damn wizards!

“Legolas, Frodo, for the first time in the Third Age, you’re . . .” he faltered and took a deep breath. “The two of you are pregnant.”

What?

My mind blanked completely.

Pregnant?

How could that happen?

I blushed suddenly and completely. I knew exactly how it had happened.

“The cordial wasn’t a love potion but one of conception?” Legolas said faintly.

“Exactly.” Gandalf nodded. “The two of you are mated to males but that happened in the First Age so they created a potion to help whichever one of the pairs wanted to carry the child. I expect that it is Elf specific so that answers the question of whether or not there is Elven blood in the Baggins’ lineage.”

“But I’m a dwarf.” I whispered, still in shock.

“Yes, that may throw a complication or two into Legolas’ pregnancy so we’ll have to watch the progression carefully. If you’ll notice, there appear to be two centers of purple inside of both of them. The scrolls will tell us for sure but that may mean that Frodo and Legolas are carrying twins.”

Twins?

Legolas turned in my arms with the brightest smile I’d ever seen on his face. “Gimli, I do love you. Now, perhaps Glimmer will be born to carry on your line.”

A son? My son? A child both Elf and Dwarf?

Tears filled my eyes. “Perhaps he will be the first blond Dwarf in this new age. I love you too, Legolas Greenleaf.”

Frodo and Sam were both crying and holding each other. I could see the shock in Sam’s eyes that had to be in mine. Legolas had buried his head against my chest and I held him tightly, still trying to wrap my mind around this wondrous event. I’d given up that old dream so long ago that to have it resurrect itself was truly a life-altering event. Not to mention what it might mean for my Elven lover.

“Male bodies aren’t made to deliver babies, Gandalf.” I blurted out.

“No, that’s a part of the knowledge that I’m hoping the old scrolls will give us.” He stroked his beard and looked from one of us to the other. “The next eight months will be quite eventful and you’re all going to have to stay near competent care. Have you thought about where you want to live?”

Sam spoke up. “Frodo and I want a place of our own, near the Shire but not in it, exactly. And now, that’ll be even more important. I don’t want anyone making fun of him for being pregnant.”

That caught my attention immediately. Others of both my kind and his would decry our love and would surely be aghast at the further thought of two males being pregnant. More than ever, I was glad that we’d already had this conversation. “Sam’s right. We’re neither fish nor fowl now that we love each other. We want a place with trees and mountains both.”

Frodo wiped away his tears and smiled at us all. “The map room two floors down has enough maps that surely we’d be able to find a place for all of us. Right now, we can hide what’s happening but in a few months, Legolas and I will begin to show and then the fat really will be in the fire.”

“Good thinking, Frodo.” Gandalf stood with a swirl of his white robes. “For now, I suggest we tell no one. In a few days when you’ve picked out a place, we’ll need to see if our new king would kindly grant a deed for some land to a few of his Fellowship.”

“We need to tell Merry and Pippin.” Sam said while helping Frodo to his feet. “I’m thinking that they’ll be real good at planning and building and such.”

I stood and tenderly helped Legolas to his feet. Leaning in just a little, I placed a soft kiss on his abdomen. “Welcome, little ones.”

He smiled and burst into tears. “Oh, Gimli. Thank you for not being upset.”

I snorted. “Nonsense, beloved, I’m half the reason that you’re pregnant.”

Chuckling and brushing away the sudden tears, he laid a strong hand on my shoulder. “My most beloved and virile lover.”

My gaze caught Sam’s and his blush told me that we’d need to have a private talk of our own once this surprising day was over. Until then, I pretended to preen. “Of course.”

Legolas was laughing when we went through the door. I brought the covered teapot and the cups. We might just need them.

******

Frodo lost his energy first followed quickly by Legolas. I sent them both back to their rooms with Sam to make sure that they got there. The map archivist was an elderly Man by the name of Bramble and he knew his maps. I had the feeling that he’d memorized every single one. He’d listened to our requests and kept a steady stream of maps coming to our table.

He’d frowned when I set the teapot down but when Frodo had a sudden attack of nausea, he watched him sip the tea with a sense of the same relief that the rest of us felt. We’d narrowed the field quite a bit over the last two hours and Gandalf had gone to the scroll archives to see what Minas Tirith had on the region we’d selected. I was pouring over the last map that showed a small mountain range with a series of lakes that were fed by three different rivers.

The forest, that covered the mountains and the surrounding valleys, was called Vestella if I read the crabbed hand rightly. I knew the mountains as the Blue Star range and it was a minor range that boasted few precious minerals. That meant there would be few of the Dwarven clans who would contest our claim to them. Legolas had mentioned that the forests had been the site of at least one Varyan clan.

That might prove valuable if some of their lost records could be found.

“Gimli, I found several mention of the Blue Stars and the Vestella Forest.” Gandalf returned with both arms filled with scrolls. “They even had two Varyan scrolls that I’ve never seen before. Elrond will be pleased. When Legolas has to slow down his activities, he could translate them. What I read, sounded quite archaic.”

“Varyana?” Bramble had returned with another map. “I seem to recall a map with a like heading. Would it be of use?”

Gandalf’s eyes sparkled. “Certainly. I would be most pleased to see it. I thought very little survived of their time.”

Bramble laughed a dry, rusty chuckle. He’d certainly perked up with our visit. “Old things and old people just naturally find their way to my archive.”

I hid a smile and rolled up the best map to lay aside for now. One of the scrolls was in the elder Dwarven tongue and I took it to puzzle over while I watched Legolas sleep. I still could hardly believe what Gandalf had told us. Not even seeing the purple glow had made me truly understand the great change that had come to us. Nothing about this odd journey had discomfited me the way that thinking of a child combining both my race and Legolas’ had done.

Slipping inside our door, I closed and locked it behind me. The scroll went on the table and I climbed up to sit by my lover’s side. All the pain lines had eased away and his golden hair lay tangled on the white pillowcase. He’d stripped down to skin and the sheet was all that covered him. One white arm lay outside the sheet and I gently traced the long muscle that gave him such prowess with his bow.

He was carrying our child . . . perhaps two babies even now lay nestled within his body. They were the result of our love and that had been the greatest miracle of my long life. But they were so far beyond any wish that I might have made that I felt overwhelmed by it all.

“Gimli, come to bed.” His eyes opened and he smiled at me. “I love you. Are you sure that you wish this great and frightening event to come to pass?”

“Yes.” I suddenly knew what I was feeling. “Frightening, yes. But they are the physical proof of our love and that is the greatest gift I have ever been given.”

“Oh, yes, my dearest love, I have been blessed with your love.” He raised the edge of the sheet and beckoned me inside.

I hastily undressed and joined him, his long arms pulling me tight against his cool body. “We will have a long and eventful life together, Legolas. Any child that combines our traits will be a handful. Perhaps we should start interviewing nurse maids now?”

He chuckled and kissed me slowly but passionately. When we had to breathe, he pulled back only far enough to gaze into my eyes. “We shall conduct those interviews when we need to. It will be nice to look among those coming for the wedding.”

That reminded me of the coming confrontation with the Elves from Rivendell. “If we can just keep Elrond from killing me, we may have a chance to gather a few other Elves for our new community.”

“Never fear, Gimli, he will welcome you as he once welcomed you to Rivendell. He is one who knows the power of love.” Legolas began to kiss his way down to my chest. His long hair tickled and I felt myself begin to harden. “He will probably be quite jealous once I brag of your virility.”

“Legolas!” I was slightly shocked at his teasing but his laughter told me of his intent. “Just for that, I shall ravish you without mercy until you beg for release.”

“I am counting on that, beloved.” He bit my left nipple and sent a bolt of lightning through me.

With a flex of muscle, I pulled him beneath me and looked down into his laughing eyes. I felt his body with mine and again realized that his had changed beyond all recognition to me. I slid to one side and kissed the flesh over the still-taut abdomen. “Go to sleep, little ones, I’m going to ravish your . . .” I paused, disconcerted.

He laughed. “If I’m to bear this child or children to life, I’m prepared to be a mother.”

I kissed him again. “Beloved Legolas, thank you for bearing this blessing for us.”

“I would do it again in a heartbeat, Beloved Gimli.” His hand stroked my cheek. “Now ravish me, my virile dwarf.”

So I ravished him, slowly and carefully.

Chapter Text

******** Merry *********

Something was going on but I wasn’t sure what. It had to do with Legolas and Gimli but also Frodo and Sam. Our two hobbit friends had a tendency to stop talking and just look at each other for long moments before these really big smiles would appear and they’d hug each other. Legolas was sick every morning and Frodo had stopped smoking completely.

He couldn’t even stand the smell of tobacco so that meant that Pippin and I couldn’t smoke around him either. His choice of food was strange, too. Broth and bread with a little fruit was all he could eat and Sam wasn’t much better. There was no way that they were ever going to get back to pleasingly plump with that kind of diet.

Several times Sam went to tell us something but he’d pause then shake his head. Frodo developed an odd tendency to smile off into the distance with a kind of silly look on his face while he rubbed his stomach. The really odd thing was that Legolas was doing the same thing. And Gimli treated the tall Elf as if he were made of spun crystal and might break.

When we got an invitation to go walking in the great woods with the four of them, Pip and I agreed quickly. With large picnic hampers, we headed into the forest for a little glade that Gimli said he was quite fond of. Legolas laughed out loud and tweaked his beard with the fondest of looks. For all their differences in race and height, they really were beautiful together.

I wondered sometimes why people fell in love with the people they did. It seemed to be a great mystery that was still unexplained no matter who you asked. Looking at the six of us, I would have never believed a year ago that any of us would have been together. We were all so different and yet . . .

Friends - that was the answer. We were friends first and lovers second. What ever would the Shire make of us? I worried about that sometimes, but aside from a few raised eyebrows when Pip and I built our own place, we should be all right. Unfortunately I couldn’t say the same about Sam and Frodo. They were very much an odd couple. Of course, Legolas and Gimli were in the same boat there.

But I couldn’t be anxious today. The sun was shining, the trees gave wonderful shade, our picnic baskets were nicely heavy and we were going to find out what was going on. I knew that in my bones. It just didn’t get any better than this. The wars were over and the new job of building anew had everybody making plans. It was an exciting time to be alive and looking towards the future.

“I think I’m homesick for the Shire, Pip. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were there right now?” I sighed happily and took his hand in mine.

“Too far away for now, Merry.” He smiled at me and swung my hand a little. “I like it here, too.”

From the corner of my eye, I saw Sam shoot a quick glance at Frodo. The elder Hobbit nodded and the gardener cleared his throat. “It will be good to visit the family and have a party to celebrate the end of the war and the new king and all.”

“Visit?” I caught the odd word and turned to look at them.

“We’re thinking of settling elsewhere.” Frodo said with a shaky note in his voice that made Sam drop his hand and pull him into a hug instead. “We . . . we need to talk to you about that during our picnic.”

“Almost there, my friends.” Gimli said gruffly and I saw Legolas pat his shoulder.

What ever was going on, it definitely involved all of them. Pip and I exchanged a quick look and in a moment we were setting up our picnic. Legolas and Frodo unfurled the blankets that were all their lovers would let them carry. That was odd, too. Neither of them had ever struck me as unwilling to carry their share of the load. Of course, Frodo had been hurt and he still looked pale to me.

Come to think of it, Legolas had been ill lately, too. I mused over the clues that I’d seen over the last few weeks. Maybe something horrible was happening to them and they were going to need to stay here in Gondor or back in Rivendell? It just wouldn’t seem right to go home without them.

“Ahem,” Gimli cleared his throat and looked at Pip and me. “We have something to tell the two of you and it’s going to be hard to believe but we need you to just listen first and ask questions after we’re done.”

After we nodded, Legolas took a deep breath and looked at us. “Frodo and I are pregnant. The Varyan cordial had a conception spell interlaced with the herbs that works on Elves and those with Elven blood. It happened the night that Elessar was crowned king. A little less than eight months from now, we’ll have our babies. There maybe even be twins.”

My jaw had dropped at his first sentence and hadn’t come back off the blanket yet. Pregnant? Babies as in more than one each? Then part of what he’d said was high lighted. “Frodo really does have Elven blood then?”

Sam chuckled. “Certain sure and won’t Bilbo be excited at the news?”

Pip finally picked up his own jaw. “You’re not kidding, are you? You’re really going to have a baby? Or two?”

Legolas nodded. “I know it’s odd now but Gandalf says that during the First Age, it was quite common.”

“What about Gimli being a Dwarf? I didn’t think that would work.” I wasn’t sure if I said it right.

“Gandalf said that we’ll need both an Elf and a Dwarf healer when we get closer to delivery time.” Gimli was holding Legolas’ hand and he raised it to his lips, kissing it softly. “It is my greatest fear that my seed may harm you.”

Legolas smiled at him. “Except for making me sick every morning, these babies are behaving very well. I refuse to believe that your blood and seed were anything but good for me. Let others debate that and . . . they will. We shall calmly birth our son or daughter with love and raise them together. But not in the Shire, Mirkwood or the Blue Mountains.”

“Oh dear, it would be awkward to have Frodo pregnant with everyone looking at him and whispering behind his back.” I saw the problems very clearly and so did Sam and Frodo if their solemn nods were any indication. “What can we do to help?”

“Where will you go?” Pip’s eyes were damp and he sniffed just a little. “You’ll be all alone if you don’t live in the Shire.”

Sam hugged Frodo close and looked at me. “Well, we were kind of hoping that a few hobbits from the Shire might want to venture out to a place where anybody could live. That means Elves and Dwarves and Men and Hobbits.”

“You mean us.” I said flatly, trying to hide the rising excitement that bubbled inside of me. “Pip and I may not be accepted as a couple and need a place to go.”

Frodo nodded. “You’d probably be all right as a pair of old bachelors. But the Tooks and the Brandybucks have always been adventurous. It would be nice to have uncles for the babies when they come.”

Pip looked pleadingly at me. “We could, Merry. It would so much more free to live outside the Shire. We could visit the family whenever we wanted to but not have to watch our tongues or touches.”

I laughed out loud and pulled him into my arms. “Dearest Pip, you’re the smartest hobbit on this blanket. Sign us up, my friends. I intend to make sure that these babies are well protected.”

“And I’ll make sure that they know all the best tricks.” Pip said brightly while Sam groaned.

We ate our lunch while talking back and forth about the place they’d picked out. It sounded like a beautiful land where there’d be something for everybody. I mentioned that I wanted a nice big bathing room in our hobbit hole and they all agreed with nods. Frodo said he wanted a large library where every kind of book and scroll could be found. Pip voted for kitchens that would serve every taste while Sam excitedly asked for gardens that included plants from every part of Middle-earth.

Gimli smiled at Legolas’ wistful request for music before mentioning that he hoped to bring some of his Dwarves into the community to do some carving of the local stone. We talked long into the afternoon before returning to the city and a meeting with the new king. I was glad that I was there when they told Aragorn their news. His surprise was funny, especially when his eyes bugged out and his jaw dropped.

But he was the king and he recovered almost immediately to grant the valley, forest and mountain chain to us. Gandalf was there and he said that he’d be a frequent visitor. We separated then and Pip and I went to have our baths. We knew that it was still secret so we talked about our home and how we’d build it while we were in the baths.

It was time to draw some plans, we decided. But once we got back to our rooms, I closed the door in time to get an armful of Pip. We hadn’t kissed in hours and I missed his taste.

“Oh, Merry, this is so exciting.” Pip grinned at me. “I love the idea of starting new and fresh. And isn’t it strange about Frodo and Legolas? Sometimes I wish that I could have a baby with you. I dreamed about it one night and it was lovely.”

“Really?” I held him close. “It’s going to hurt both of them to have these babies.”

“Oh, I forgot about that.” His face wrinkled up in dismay. “Maybe there’s a spell or something that will make the pain go away?”

I kissed him again and started undressing him. “Even if there isn’t, maybe we should practice making babies anyway.”

“Yes!” He crowed and whisked away my clothes.

He really is very good at that. I chased him into bed and we slid together while we rolled on the sheets until we were all hot and bothered. Pip wiggled all over when I brought him up on all fours and oiled his little hole. He loves the stretching part but when I slicked myself and thrust inside, he sighed and pushed back. A wanton Pip is a wondrous Pip and I thanked the Shire for him.

Slowly we made love until he was panting for me to go faster and I was holding him tighter than ever while I thrust hard right at his sweet spot. He cried out and began to come while I shook myself to pieces inside him. His arms gave out and I landed flat on his back, remembering to roll us to one side so I didn’t squish him. We were both breathing hard and I hugged him close, tonguing the sweaty skin on his neck.

“Oh, Merry. You feel so good inside of me that I really do wish we could make babies. They’re so much fun to play with and teach.” He sounded rather plaintive and I smiled at the thought of a round Pip, filled with our child.

“It sounds like there was only that one bottle and it only worked on Elves. We’ll just have to be honorary uncles and do the best we can to help Frodo and Sam.” I thought about children and had the oddest idea. “Do you think there might be a female Took and a female Brandybuck who are as in love as we are? And do you think that they might like to live in a community where they wouldn’t be odd?”

Pip squeaked and craned his head to look at me. That looked quite awkward so I raised up on one elbow so he wouldn’t get a crick in his neck. “Merry, do you think there is? Maybe they’d want babies, too. And maybe they’d want Took and Brandybuck babies.”

I liked seeing the excited look in his eyes. “We’ll go looking and see if we can’t find two adventurous hobbits that might want to share babies with us. But not right away. We’ve got a lot of building to do and we need to be there to make sure that everything gets built right. Dwarves and Elves might not get the proportions exactly right for Hobbits. And when we’re all settled in snug as two bugs in a rug, we’ll take a good look around.”

He smiled so sweetly at me that I just had to kiss him for a long moment. His pretty eyes sparkled when we finally separated. “Yes, I want to just be alone with you for a while. I’m selfish, Merry, really I am. I don’t want to share you at all for ever so long a time.”

“Then I’m selfish too, my beautiful Pip. I want to go to sleep all wrapped up in you and wake up the same way. I want to sit by the fire after a wonderful meal, smoking a last pipe and thinking about how we’ll make love in a while.” I slipped from him and he turned to cuddle close.

“I want that, too. We’ve had such a long, strange adventure that I want to do normal things for a year or two before we start again.” He sighed and snuggled his nose into my throat, licking the sweaty skin there and making it tingle. “I’m not really jealous of Sam and Frodo but maybe just a tiny bit envious. We’ve always had big families in the Shire and it might get lonely out there with just the four of us.”

“Maybe six when the babies are born.” I reminded him but I was thinking about what family meant, too. “At least they know that the babies will be Hobbits. I wonder what kind of babies Legolas is carrying. Do you think they’ll be both Dwarves or both Elves?”

Pip giggled sleepily. “Maybe they’ll have one of each. Wouldn’t that be fun? I wonder if they’ll have inky black hair or pretty golden hair? Be short or tall?” He paused and pulled away a little, his little face going quite serious. “I think Gimli is very worried and trying not to show it. He’s afraid that Legolas will be hurt or maybe even die.”

I thought back over the afternoon and the conversation we’d had. Gimli had been very quiet, only adding in a remark or two when he had to. He was worried and badly, his dark eyes showing it when ever he looked at Legolas.

“I think you’re right, Pip. We’ll need to stay close and help where we can. I don’t want anything bad to happen to either Legolas or Frodo. Having a baby should be a happy time, not a sad one. We’ll make sure that Elrond and the other Elves don’t give him a hard time about him loving Legolas.” I nodded a little and watched Pip break into a smile.

“I love you so much, Merry.” He kissed my chin and went back to snuggling. “We’ll just tell them that being in love is wonderful and they have to help.”

Chuckling, I hugged him closer and pulled up the sheet. “We’ll watch very closely and take care of them the way that they took care of us on our long journey.”

“Uh-uh,” Pip was falling asleep quickly. “Love you, Merry.”

“I love you too, Pip. Go to sleep and dream only happy dreams.” I yawned wide and fell asleep so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to dream.

Chapter Text

****** Gimli *******

I’m a brave dwarf or at least I always thought of myself that way.

But I was beginning to doubt my courage or at the very least my sanity.

Elrond and the others had arrived two hours ago and I still hadn’t gotten up the nerve to go to him and confess my love for Legolas. He was going to kill me, I just knew it. Then when he found that I’d gotten my lover pregnant, he was going to rend me from limb to limb and scatter my bones across the wastes of Morder.

“Gimli, son of Gloin.” The silken tones froze me where I was trying to blend into the stone of the reception room. “We need to have a chat.”

I stiffened my spine and bowed to the dark-haired Elf. “Certainly, My Lord Elrond, I am at your disposal.”

“Let us walk.” His face was expressionless and I gathered what was left of my courage to face the inevitable.

Legolas was talking with Arwen and Aragorn and I hoped he wouldn’t see us leave. Elrond led me down to the courtyard where the new sapling had been planted and we squared off beside the bench in the quiet sunlight. Except for our differing heights, he and I looked somewhat similar. Both dark, both brooding and both stubborn, I thought silently while I waited for him to speak.

“What are your intentions towards my cousin?” He asked me, his face still blank of all expression.

“I love Legolas Greenleaf with all my heart and soul. I intend to love and cherish him for the rest of my life, forsaking all others and taking the greatest good care of him that I am able.” I’d thought about what I might say but none of the long-winded speeches would be enough so I spoke from my heart.

“I see. And what are his intentions towards you?” He asked, his eyes looking over my head at the empty space behind me.

“I will love and cherish Gimli with all my heart and soul.” My lover’s voice surprised me and I spun around in time to see him walk gracefully to my side. His hand reached for mine and I clung to it. “He gives me such joy as I have never known and together we will love until death or the Havens.”

I could not speak for fear of bursting into tears. Always, his words of love seemed to take me by surprise and astound me all over again. We turned back to Elrond to find him eyeing us both with a sparkling eye.

“Well then, I guess that I shall just have to give you my blessing and offer you a place to live. Mirkwood will not welcome a Dwarf within its halls and I seriously doubt that Legolas would be comfortable inside a mountain.” His smile slowly stretched across his face while I seriously considered passing out from sheer relief.

“We thank you for the kind offer but King Elessar has already deeded us lands for our new home. There is, however, something else that we must tell you about our love.” My Elf faltered a moment and looked down at me.

“Sit down before you fall down, beloved. Lord Elrond, please join him.” I gestured to the bench and they sat while I stood at Legolas’ shoulder, his hand in mine giving me strength. “We have . . . that is Legolas is . . .” I wasn’t sure how to finish my sentence.

“Legolas carries your child, Gimli.” The silver tones came from the arch and the other two sprang to their feet. The Lady Galadriel glided into the courtyard and bade Legolas be seated again. Sitting down beside him, she took his hand and cupped his chin. “You glow with health and new life. I shall not ask how for I suspect it is the reason that Gandalf sent an urgent message requesting all the Varyan texts that Lothlorien could muster.”

“What are you talking about, Galadriel?” Elrond sputtered a little and that made me feel a bit better. “Pregnant? Is this why Gimli sent word that he wanted us to bring a healer along?”

“Yes, Frodo and I accidentally drank a Varyan conception cordial and conceived that night.” Legolas’ head was up but his cheeks were flushed and I put an arm around him to share my strength with him.

“The Ringbearer is also pregnant?” Elrond was definitely sputtering now and my own confidence grew with every syllable. “What, what has been going on around here?”

The Lady smiled at me and held out her other hand for me to take. “It’s all quite simple, dear Elrond. For the first time in two ages, mated males will be bearing children. Love will always find a way to manifest life. We shall have to see about a bonding ceremony for Legolas and Gimli after we get Arwen and Aragorn married. Sam and Frodo, too. How ever did Sam get up the courage to tell Frodo of his love?”

So, Legolas and I told them the story, alternating between parts while the Lord and Lady listened with wide eyes. Eventually, Legolas shivered and I immediately wrapped my arms around him. He still chilled easily and since the sun had moved past this courtyard, I asked them to rejoin us inside the palace a little later. The Lady nodded and took Elrond’s attention to herself so Legolas and I could escape.

We hurried upstairs and into our rooms with a sense of relief. I was practically giddy with the release of tension and Legolas wasn’t far behind me. We sank onto the rug before the fire and kissed for long moments until finally we felt the need to breathe.

“Dearest Gimli, I can now admit to a small concern about how they would take the news.” He smiled at me, laying down flat and resting his head in my lap.

“You were very cool and calm, my love.” I smoothed back the fair hair that I loved to touch. “I, on the other hand, was a complete bundle of nerves right up until the moment that the Lady entered the picture.”

He chuckled. “She has a way of doing that, Gimli. The Lady likes being inscrutable and prides herself on her ability to diffuse a situation. Why did you slip away without getting me to share in Elrond’s inquisition?”

I ran my fingers soothingly through the long golden strands. “I wished to spare you the pain if he took it badly.” I sighed and shook my head. “Actually, I wanted no other witnesses if he was angry. I hate scenes where lots of yelling and shouting goes on.”

“Dear Heart,” he captured my hand and brought it to his lips, “it is my place to share the good and the bad with you. Had Arwen not alerted me to your departure I would have missed the most beautiful words of your love. You have never said it quite that way before and I shall always cherish your words.”

My eyes teared for a moment. “I meant every word and will repeat them a thousand times over the next few years.” Raising his hand to my lips for a soft kiss, I held him close and remembered what the Lady had said. “Do you think that they brought many Varyan texts with them?”

“I hope so.” He sighed and sat up. “I tire of being sick every day. It’s time for another pot of tea.”

We had our own large supply of raspberry leaves and the teakettle was always at the ready to swing over the fire to heat. His cheeks paled a little and he sat quite still while I busied myself with the now familiar chore of making tea. A soft knock at the door and Sam’s voice made me call for them to come in. It was odd but Frodo and Legolas seemed to be so in parallel with each other that they got sick together.

While I made the tea, I wondered if they would continue so right through the delivery of our children. I brought the tray back to the hearth while Legolas spoke quietly of our talk with Galadriel and Elrond. The Hobbits were hopeful that the texts would throw some light on how the babies were born from their male parents. I kept back my fear that such knowledge had been lost and I would lose Legolas to untried surgery with cold steel.

Part of me wished for some magic elixir that would smooth the whole process to nothing while the dark part of my mind dredged up the screams of Griselda when she tried to deliver our small son. The contractions had been hastened by the birth fever and the pain must have been tremendous for her to lose all control and give voice to the agony. I couldn’t bear it if Legolas had to go through that.

We drank our tea quietly, Sam and I joining our mates in the soothing ritual. The knock on the door surprised us all since this time of day was one that the others knew not to intrude upon. Getting up, I crossed to the door and opened it.

“Gandalf, come in.” I ushered the white clad wizard to the chair that he usually took when he visited us.

“Good news, my friends. Between the two delegations and the archives here in Gondor, we now have twelve Varyan tomes to peruse. Only four of them, however, are on medical subjects. We will need to read them all but we have a dilemma.” He paused and we looked at each other with questions in our eyes.

“The dilemma, Gandalf?” I asked impatiently.

“They are in ancient Elven and we’ll need a healer to help decipher them. Two healers came with the Lothlorien party. Flixen, is well known among his people and he has an impressive language ability.”

“But he’s an arrogant Elf with an exaggerated opinion of himself and his . . . charms.” Legolas almost snorted. “He also hates Dwarves with a passion.”

“Oh dear, I’ll bet he doesn’t think much of Hobbits then.” Frodo said wide-eyed.

Gandalf nodded slowly. “The other healer is Rheanas and he is more of a doer than a reader. He would be my choice to actually provide your care until the babies are born. But we may need Flixen to help translate the scrolls.”

Legolas and Frodo were both biting their lips while I pondered my lover’s choice of words. “Dearest, did Flixen perhaps try to practice his charms on you?”

He blushed scarlet and nodded faintly. “It was several hundred years ago but I turned him down quite handily.”

“I heard tell he limped for over a moon.” Gandalf said with a sparkle in his eye.

Legolas dimpled at him. “Nonsense, it was no more than two weeks.”

“I already don’t like him.” I said glumly and felt Legolas’ hand slip into mine. “But if we need his expertise then I will tolerate him. I will not let any harm come to you, beloved.”

“None shall, my love.” He kissed me sweetly and hugged me close. “I can read the old language and I shall translate for Rheanas as we go. Gandalf, would you have him come to our rooms after the wedding tomorrow?”

“Certainly, Legolas. I’ll bring the texts also so we can get right to work.” He stood and shook out his robes. “Will you all be coming down to the feast tonight?”

Frodo shook his head at once. “Too much noise and rich food for me. Sam and I will stay in and have an early night.”

“I agree, unless you wish to go, Gimli?” Legolas cast a speaking look at me and I hastily said no.

Gandalf snorted slightly under his breath. “Then I shall see you tomorrow.”

Our goodnights were subdued and the Halflings left us for the privacy of their own room. Legolas nestled in my arms and I stroked his hair until I felt he’d calmed sufficiently. “I love you, my dearest Elf. I know that you can handle any importunate Elf but is there anything that I should know about this healer?”

“Nothing of any importance, Gimli.” He chuckled. “He simply thought that a Prince of Mirkwood would be a nice stepping stone to the circles of power among the Elves. It wasn’t anything personal.”

I snorted and shook him just a little. “Nonsense, my dear Legolas, you are the most beautiful Elf in any Age, whether it be First, Second or Third. It is his loss that he held you less than dear. Now, what should I go beg from the kitchens?”

He stretched and pulled away. “Bread, the clear chicken broth and perhaps some of the peach flan if they made any.”

Chuckling, I arose to do his bidding. “Since they know how much you love it, I expect there will be just a little available. Do we bathe first or simply sponge off tonight?”

“Goodness, no, we must bathe fully and wash our hair. If we eat first then we can have the baths to ourselves while the banquet is in full spate.” His eyes gleamed. “I will brush your hair until it rivals the black silk of night, then braid it with silken ribbons in honor of our soon to be queen.”

I dropped a kiss on his fair head before leaving. “Only for you, beloved.”

The halls buzzed with voices and hurrying servants bent on errands for their masters. I descended to the kitchens and found Cook Tarheel directing a staff of what appeared to be hundreds.

“Ho, Dwarf Gimli, you’ve come for your dinner.” His ruddy cheeks glowed in the hot air. “You will miss my famous roast beef with dilled potatoes and leeks steamed with basil. But when your appetite returns, I shall fix it again so you can marvel at my skill.”

I bowed to the rotund man who had no false modesty about his abilities and needed none for his masterful skill. “Indeed, I shall await it with bated breath but for tonight bread, broth and perhaps some peach flan?”

He sighed sorrowfully but was already beckoning one of his minions to fetch our meal. I took the heavily laden tray covered with the silver dome to keep the food warm, bowing my thanks and leaving the flowing chaos with a sigh of relief. Thank goodness, Legolas wasn’t up to the crowded banquet hall. We’d go deaf in no time at all. Not to mention the delicious smells that I’d sniffed with regret would have had him heaving in no time at all.

I took the back stairs to the fourth level and entered without bothering to knock, only to find a stranger at our hearth glowering at me. “I see that you’ve fallen low indeed, my dear Prince Legolas. Of course, dwarves can be good servants if you take the time to teach them the proper servility. I see that this one fetches and carries adequately.”

“Well, well, if it isn’t that healer you told me about, my friend. Vixen, wasn’t it?” I smiled at him and set the tray on our table by a bristling lover who was rigid with anger. That wasn’t good for the babies so I hastened to speed our unwelcome guest on his way.

“That’s Flixen, Dwarf. And I am a Master Healer.” He said with narrowed eyes.

“Ah, I must have misheard Lady Galadriel. Isn’t it awkward with your specialty to have a name that can be so easily misunderstood?” I shook my head and looked at him as disarmingly as I could. “And why would the Lord and Lady bring a healer of the Mordor disease with the war over?”

He pulled in his breath in shock while Legolas suddenly began to tremble. The Mordor disease was simply a polite euphemism for the groin pox that went the rounds of Middle-earth every now and then.

“Well, it’s certainly nice of you to stop by and say hello but I’m sure that you should be getting ready for the banquet.” I stepped right up to him and crowded him to the door. “Nice to meet you, perhaps we’ll see you at the wedding. Good-bye.”

I shut and locked the door behind him while he was still gibbering with disbelief. Dusting my hands off, I turned back to Legolas to find him collapsed on the hearth rug. He was shaking all over and I hurried to him in alarm only to raise a laughing face to mine. Peal after peal of laughter arose and brought a self-congratulating smile to my lips. He wasn’t upset after all.

“Oh, Gimli, the look on his face when you called him a vixen.” He laughed so hard he had to hold onto me. “And calling him a healer of the pox. Truly, truly inspired. Oh, it hurts to laugh so.”

I held him close and matched my chuckle to his. “Arrogance is easily deflected because they simply take themselves much too seriously. He didn’t hurt you before I came?”

“Not at all, my love. He made me angry with his insinuations and his hurtful words about you but you took care of him quite handily.” He smiled at me and cupped my cheek with tender fingers. “One of the very many reasons that I love you, Gimli, is your quick wit and scathing tongue.”

I leaned in and kissed him slowly, only drawing away after a long moment. “My tongue is ever ready for your use, beloved. Just ask and it is yours.”

“My love.” His eyes shimmered with sudden tears but I was growing used to the mood swings that took him from mirth to sadness in the blink of an eye. “Let’s eat dinner so we can bathe. I have a never-ending need to have you make slow, tender love to me.”

“That need is mine, too. If you eat all your dinner, I promise you a night of passion that will leave you looking extremely well-loved tomorrow.” It was my turn to stroke his fair cheek and his blinding smile was all the reward I needed.

I was rather looking forward to meeting the other healer. I would be very picky about the person into whose hands I would give the care of my love. But after meeting Flixen, I was curious about the other Elf.

Tomorrow, we’d find out if we had another for our growing community. Right now, I needed to feed Legolas his dinner so I could ravish him.

Chapter Text

******* Gimli ********

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 I 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 acceptable?”

“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 sons and daughters 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 he has told me and he’ll be sure to tell them also. Perhaps about the reason 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.

Chapter Text

******* Merry *******

We shut our door behind us and I knew that Pip was crying again because the sniffles had started out in the hall while we were walking back to our rooms. Our parents love us and we know that but now I wondered what it would take to make them . . . stop. And I knew that Pip was wondering, too.

“What will we do if our parents say we shouldn’t be together?” His voice trembled and I took him in my arms, holding him tight.

“We’ll explain that we love them very much but we can’t ever live apart.” I took a deep breath and kissed the curls under my chin. “There are other Brandybucks and Tooks to take over the family affairs while we take the families to new lands. I think my parents will understand. They always knew that I wanted to see the world.”

“Papa can be . . . serious about responsibility to the family.” He sighed and kissed my throat. “Mama always defers to him.”

I thought about Paladin and Eglantine Took. He could be very stern and I wondered with a chill of unease if he was anything like King Thranduil. Pip’s beautiful mother stayed in the shadows of her husband unlike my own mother who strolled hand in hand with my father. She wasn’t cold or distant just kind of faded to my eyes.

“We really have changed during this journey, Pip. We’ve grown up and started making our own choices instead of accepting lives like our parents have.” I hugged him close then set him a little apart so I could look into his eyes. He blinked and tried to smile for me but it was an effort. “We need to go home and make sure everything is all right before we move on with our lives. Together, right?”

“Together, Merry.” He took a deep breath and smiled for real. “Always together and never apart, that’s what I want for the rest of our lives.”

“Yes.” I kissed him hard until we had to breathe. “And we’ll help Legolas and Gimli get better. Sam has the same kind of fear, I’ll bet. His Gaffer isn’t going to understand at all why his boy wants to leave the Shire for good. We’ll have to help him so Frodo and the babies don’t get hurt.”

Pip nodded and pulled away to go and get a clean handkerchief. “Did you notice anything odd about Elrond’s sons? They must be real good friends of Legolas because Elladan was practically in tears when Elrohir brought Gimli back. He said something about his father before his twin hushed him.”

I thought back to the two Elves who seemed much more roughhewn than the rest of the family. I suppose being Orc hunters for so many years was the reason. “Maybe they’re in love with people they think Elrond might not approve of? We can ask them if they want to join us in our new lands.”

He cheered up at that thought. “Yes, we won’t object to anyone they bring with them. We’re going to be the friendliest settlement in all of Middle-earth. I like the healer, Rheanas. He’s nice and kind of cozy, the way a really good doctor should be.”

We got ready for dinner, going down the hall to join Sam and Frodo in their rooms. When we got there, Frodo was in bed propped up on a couple of pillows while Sam fussed over him. His wan face told the tale and I told him that we could leave if he wasn’t feeling well.

“No, please stay.” He shivered a little. “I seem to be connected to Legolas somehow since we drank that cordial. He feels quite dreadful and it seems to be spilling over to me.” His blue eyes were red rimmed and his voice got caught up in a hiccup. “I’m worried that Sam’s father will be upset like Legolas’ father is. I don’t want him to be hurt by loving me.”

“Nonsense, Frodo.” Sam brought over a tray with some broth and bread on it, setting it carefully in his lover’s lap. “The Gaffer might bluster a bit and ask a few questions like but he’ll not be throwing a perfectly good son away just because he thinks I’ve gone a bit queer in the head.”

I snorted in sudden laughter and Pip started to giggle at his calm words. Frodo looked a little taken aback but soon he was smiling, too. He caught Sam’s hand and raised it to his lips, brushing a soft kiss over the work-worn knuckles.

“I am so very selfish, Sam. I will never let you go even if it would be better for you if I should.” He said simply and smiled tenderly at a suddenly blushing Sam.

“Good, I’m hungry. Are we having something more than broth?” Pip said plaintively, looking half-heartedly at the plain fare on Frodo’s tray.

The table had a good assortment of other food and we picnicked in the big bed that held four Hobbits quite nicely. Frodo even managed to eat a bite or two of the leeks we’d grown so fond of. Sam spoke of taking seeds with us when we left. For the first time, we began to plan our trip back home. The wedding was over and the sooner we traveled to the Shire, the sooner we could take up residence in the Vestella Forest.

The plans began to take shape while we talked and soon, we were making lists of things we would need in our new home. Frodo’s writing hand was the most legible so he began to write things down for us. Pretty soon the bed was littered with different pieces of parchment such as ‘plants’, ‘books’, ‘ponies and what they need’, ‘building materials’ that we might not find on site and dozens of other items.

We divided them up and each of us took a few to manage. There were even lists begun for Rheanas, Gandalf and the others who would be joining us. And somewhere in our planning, Frodo had decided not to come back to the Shire at all. He insisted that the books he wanted to buy from Lobelia I could get for him and it would be better all around if he wasn’t even mentioned except very briefly.

Sam protested but Frodo just took his hand and laid it on his still too flat tummy. The illness the babies were causing and the long trip both to the Shire and then on to our new home might prove too much and Sam finally agreed. We’d travel faster that way, too. We might need a travel companion or two but I thought that Aragorn might have some ideas about who could go.

By the time we took our lists to our own rooms, we were both yawning ever so wide that it was all we could do to strip off our clothes and fall into bed. Curling up around each other, we kissed a sleepy goodnight and fell fast asleep.

****** Sam *******

Well, this was a fine to do, this was. I’d like to have a word or two with Legolas’ father. Be he king or commoner, he shouldn’t have thrown away his own son. It just made me want to cry but my poor Frodo was doing the crying for us both. For some reason, he and Legolas had been linked since the night they got pregnant and this last week had been a real misery for them both.

That still made me catch my breath that did. Frodo and I were going to have babies all by ourselves. When he was throwing up, I worried that he hadn’t had enough time to heal before we’d gone and stressed his poor body all over again. Males weren’t meant to have babies, I kept telling myself but there was this part of me deep inside that was glad and thought that he was the bravest Hobbit in all of Middle-earth.

He hadn’t once complained or been anything but positive. It was like knowing he was carrying new life kind of made up for his belief that he was a failure. I told him over and over that he wasn’t anything of the sort but he’d still felt real melancholy until Gandalf had told us what had happened. Then he’d gotten real quiet for about a day or so. I was worried but unless he told me what he was thinking, I didn’t have a clue what was going through that beautiful head of his.

But then he’d smiled at me, that real beautiful smile that made me catch my breath and told me that he was proud to be carrying my babies . . . my babies. And that he wanted to build such a beautiful life with me that our children would be proud of us, too. These were just the first Sam-lings in a long line of them to come. He kind of took my breath away when he glowed like that in a sort of trance with his eyes all far away.

It really didn’t seem all that odd right then that he had Elven blood in him, if you get my drift. I just held him real close and told him I loved him. He sighed all happy like and asked me if we had any of those peaches left. We were getting kind of low and I made a note to check the market to see if any more had come in. The traders were coming in all the time now instead of just once a moon.

Things were changing all over and it just didn’t hardly seem possible that we’d been here over two months already. I came back to the here and now real quick when he caught his breath and rubbed his side. We’d been packing up some of the books that the King had said we could take with us.

“Frodo, let me lift those heavy ones. You rest for a bit.” I pulled the big old leather bound book off the shelf and almost dropped it. The pages must have been made of gold or something because it was sure heavy. “We take many of these and we’ll be needing about twenty wagons just to haul the books.”

“Oh, Sam, they’re not all that bad.” He grinned at me and patted my arm while I settled it down all snug in the straw-lined crate. “And they’ll be wonderful reading this winter when I can’t get about much.”

I halted all of a shiver when I suddenly pictured him all big in front with the babies. “We’ll need to build real snug then. I’ll make one of those slanted holders so the book can rest on it and all you’ll have to do is turn the page.”

He nodded and rubbed his stomach a little. I’d kind of noticed that there was a little bump where the babies were growing but nobody else would see them yet with his clothes on. I also realized that in two days I’d be leaving for the Shire and I’d miss watching him begin to swell.

“I know, Sam. Legolas has promised to sketch me every time I grow a little.” Frodo consoled me. “I think we should go back to our rooms so you can memorize me with those skillful fingers of yours.”

I went hot and cold all over. “I think you have the best ideas, Frodo. We can pack these old books later.”

He grinned and took my hand, leading me through the crowded halls to the fourth level where we’d lived for the last two months. The Men and Elves that we met all bowed to us and I still couldn’t quite get used to that. But soon we locked the door behind us and it was like that night all over again while his dozen hands undressed me so quick that I barely had time to get his clothes off, too.

Frodo was smiling and laughing when he chased me into the bed. I rolled so I could cradle him with all of me. “Oh, it’s wrong for me to leave you, Frodo, my own.”

“It’s only for a little while, my Sam. You must go back and reassure all of the Shire that the war is over and the King really has returned.” He kissed my chin and wiggled his beautiful body over mine. “But then you must hurry home to me, my dearest Sam, for I shall be very lonely without you.”

Lonely wasn’t the word for it. I brought his lips down to mine for one of his special kisses. I was going to be missing those a lot so I was going to store up as many as possible before we had to leave. But kissing almost always led to touching and then to moving and on to groaning and tonight was no exception.

His skin is so smooth and fine except where the nasty scars are but I always touch them real gentle and kiss them so he doesn’t try to hide them anymore. I finally had to move and roll him onto his side so I could touch more of him. He trembles when I move my fingers real slow over his inner thighs up to his pretty cock. I needed to taste him tonight in the worse way so I pushed him over onto his back and eased my way down.

He hissed and squirmed around until he had my cock in his hand. Every taste of him was better than the last but he was licking me all over and it was hard to not pay attention to that wicked tongue of his. This time would be fast because I wanted to take my time with him later. I sucked real hard on his crimson crown and got that first delicious taste of him that always makes me want more.

But he was sucking hard too and pretty soon it was a race to see who’d drink first. Actually for the first time it was a tie and he was laughing and drinking me down while I had to chuckle and slurp every last drop of him. He was always sleepy after we made love lately so he napped and I got up to dress real casual so I could go down to the kitchens.

Cook Tarheel wasn’t so busy tonight since there wasn’t a big banquet or anything. He and I talked about what kind of spices might not upset poor Frodo’s stomach. I had had to make up some abuse on our journey to explain his sensitivity and he’d been real kind about giving me some ideas about cooking for him.

“Now, Master Gamgee, I’ve heard that some of the Fellowship will be building a new community over by the Three Rivers?” His brown eyes gleamed into mine. “This is true?”

“Yes, Master Tarheel, we are settling there in the old Vestella Forest between the Three Rivers and the Blue Star Mountains.” I wondered why he smiled so suddenly.

“Excellent, I have just the fellow to travel with you to become your cook.” He beckoned to someone I couldn’t see. “Jallico, I’d like you to meet Master Gamgee, one of the Ringbearers.”

The Man he’d beckoned over stood slightly stooped shouldered about Legolas’ height. His dark hair was streaked with silver but his green eyes were bright. He was missing a finger too but it was the right-hand little finger. I thought maybe I’d seen him before, working on a big cake for the last banquet. We shook hands and I looked at Tarheel for some kind of explanation.

“Well, it goes against the grain to send you off without a good cook who’s working his way up to the Master level. Jallico here, apprenticed with me for the first ten years of his training before leaving to work in Rohan with my brother master. He came back to me with this great army that came to fight and is now in the process of disbanding.” He smiled at Jallico then at me. “It is time for him to have his own kitchen on a grander scale.”

“Well,” I started hesitantly, “I’d be right glad to talk to the others and see if there’s room for one more. I’ve got to say that it would be real nice to not have to cook after a long hard day of building our new homes. We’re not going to be real important or anything. I think that we’re going to be more a long the lines of a small town with scholars like Legolas and my Frodo, stone carvers like Gimli and gardeners like me.”

“That sounds like a wonderful kind of community to me.” His voice was deep like Gimli’s and he had that rolling accent that I kind of thought of as Rohan’s. “A small town of peace and quiet with hard workers is just the place for me. Cooking over a fire under a tarp is something that I’ve gotten real good at the last two years. But I’d like to help build a place that I could call home.”

“I reckon you have gotten good at cooking outside.” I smiled at him and he smiled back. “How are you at cooking for delicate appetites?”

“I’ve heard that some of the Fellowship aren’t well after your long journey.” He said that real diplomatically. “I think I can tempt a wayward appetite and appease a queasy stomach. I’ve got over two hundred recipes that are certain sure to please. And I even have the Master’s permission to cook his famous dill potatoes.”

My eyes lit up. “Oh my, that would bring you my vote. Some of us are heading back to the Shire to make sure everything is all right there and tell them about the new King. But we’ll be leaving for the forest real soon after. Most of the party are heading out in six days so you’d need to be ready to move then.”

“That will be no problem, the King has already told me that he’ll gift me a horse and wagon with enough trunks to hold my spices, books and supplies.” He said eagerly.

“Well then, I’ll talk to Gimli and Legolas tonight and get back to you tomorrow if that’s all right?”

“Thank you, Master Gamgee, I appreciate it.” He shook my hand and I took our tray back up to tell Frodo all about it.

He’d awakened and was washing up when I opened our door. For once he had a good appetite and we ate heartily before deciding to go down to the baths for our evening wash. He didn’t like to bathe with strangers and the others had noticed so we kind of had a couple of tubs partitioned off at the warm end of the baths. Since Frodo and Legolas couldn’t steam in the really hot water because of the babies, we’d taken to soaking in one not so hot but big enough to hold four hobbits, a dwarf and an elf.

The others were already there soaking so Frodo and I washed all over before rinsing off and joining them. I told them about Jallico and Gimli approved at once. He admitted that he was a terrible cook but he did like to eat now and then. Legolas laughed at him, teasing him about his appetites. But Gimli’s blush told me that it probably wasn’t his stomach that Legolas was talking about.

But Legolas had news too. Elrohir and Elladan had asked permission to join us and Elrond had approved. I liked the idea of having such good hunters living with us and Frodo said he was real glad they wanted to come. He and Legolas shared a kind of special look and a little nod but I just tucked that away in the back of my mind for later mulling over.

Gimli was excited about a small party of Dwarves that had come to see the new King. One was an old friend who’d grown tired of war and wanted to work at building again. His name was Balic and he was thinking over Gimli’s invitation to come and help us build our new homes. He’d been to the Blue Stars once when he was young and if he decided to come, he’d know where we could quarry some good stone.

It looked like our small town was going to grow all on its own and I was real glad of it. I had hopes that all our new fellowship would be all right with Legolas and Frodo. But not wanting to borrow trouble, I put those thoughts aside and held Frodo close to my side. My hand just naturally went to his stomach and I stroked the soft skin there, wondering when our babies might begin to move.

I’d be hurrying just as fast as I could to get back to him. I didn’t want to miss a minute of watching them grow. It was going to be certain hard to be without him for a moon or so but the Shire would just have to understand that we were needed elsewhere. I watched our friends and said a silent prayer to the One that we’d all stay safe.

Kissing Frodo’s cheek, I rested my head on his shoulder. And loved, especially loved.

Chapter Text

******* Gimli *******

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 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 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. An 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 when I’d fought alongside 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 he’d take care of him and the hard glint in his eye when he said that assured me 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 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 his 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 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 we would all remember for a very long time.

Chapter Text

******* Sam ********

I was so happy I was afraid I was going to bust all my buttons.

Frodo was mine and I was his. Every time I looked over and saw the pretty earring flash through his dark curls, I felt like crying or singing or maybe just laughing out loud. Gimli had come up with the idea since we didn’t want rings as a bad reminder of Frodo’s poor finger. Every little bit, I had to reach up and feel the unfamiliar weight of my own earring. Gandalf had magicked them so they wouldn’t hurt and except for a single sharp pain, they didn’t hurt at all now.

Looking around, I watched all the party laughing and enjoying themselves. There were Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and Men all here to witness our bonding. I made a silent wish that on our first anniversary we’d have the same wonderful mix of races. Only then we’d be in our very own forest with our very own babies to help us celebrate and that would make it even better.

I sighed happily and ate another little chicken tart that Jallico had baked up for us. They were made for smaller fingers so they didn’t make such a mess when we ate them. He was going to be a real asset to our settlement and I was glad that he was going along. Frodo was sipping some peach nectar but his tart was gone so I hoped he’d eaten it all. Worrying about his health seemed to be something I just couldn’t let go of no matter how many times Rheanas assured us that he was fine.

His sweet voice roused me from my contemplation of a piece of cherry torte. “Sam, come back to me so I can feed you some of this decadent dessert.”

I grinned at him and took a bite of it from his hand, licking his fingers with a swipe of my tongue. He scolded me in that indulgent voice he has, the one that said ‘no matter what you do, I’ll always love you’. I love hearing that tone from him and I always will. Swallowing my bite, I picked up a bowl of lemon custard.

“My turn, Frodo. Have a bite of this.” I scooped up some and held it to his lips, watching for his little pink tongue to dart out. He licked my finger so slowly that I could feel my pants tighten. I was going to love him right into passing out tonight or my name wasn’t Samwise Gamgee.

“Hm-m-m, delicious, Sam. Maybe we should take some back to the room with us?” His eyes looked kind of dreamy and wicked at the same time. He dropped his voice so I was the only one to hear him. “I think I’d like to eat it off of another part of your body . . . another great big part of your body.”

I blushed all the way down to my hairy toes. “Frodo, my dear, you can eat it where ever you like and off of anything you like.”

His smile lit up the whole grove and I savored it like a piece of strawberry-rhubarb crumble. I was the luckiest Hobbit in Middle-earth. Elrond leaned over and spoke real conversationally to the four of us.

“I hear that tomorrow is the day you’ll start your next journey?” He waited for our nods then kind of sat back with a real satisfied look on his face. “Well then, I guess I’d better give you my gift now. Although I’ve heard from my sons that you have several trunks of scrolls and manuscripts, a community can never have too many books. Build your library three times larger than you thought to. Before the first snows fall, I will be sending you copies of every tome in Rivendell’s library.”

I know my mouth had to be open but Frodo’s reaction was to burst into tears and reach over to hug the dark Elf. Legolas almost stuttered his thanks while Gimli nodded approvingly and made a joke about getting advice from Treebeard on which trees would be willing to provide the wood for all those shelves. That hadn’t occurred to me,a tree might not like to die so we could have our bookshelves.

But I’d have to think about that later because Celeborn was clearing his throat so it looked like the gift giving was going to continue.

“Legolas, since you are starting a new clan in an area previously held by our ancestors the Varyans, it is only appropriate that you have the authority to make decisions for that clan. With a majority vote of the Council, I hereby announce your new title, Prince Legolas of Vestella. This also conveys the responsibility of a Council seat.” His voice always sounded kind of stern to me but this time he sounded almost kind. “But we’ll let you off the first two meetings while you’re . . . creating your new community.”

Now Legolas was weeping while Gimli brushed away his own tears. I know I was beaming all over and Frodo was, too. Elrohir and Elladan were clapping and the rest of us joined in for a good five minutes. Then Legolas accepted with a simple yes and all eyes went to Galadriel.

She smiled at me and my heart began to beat faster. “Samwise, of all the Fellowship, you are the one I am most like. We share a love of growing things that amount to a passion. The gift I gave you earlier will be used elsewhere in a short time. But your new home will need something special, therefore I am gifting you a casket of seeds that will help heal some of the wounds of your new land.”

It was my turn to sniff a little. “Thank you, my Lady. Will you come to visit in a year or two so I can show you what we’ve done?”

“Of course, I will, Sam.” She smiled at me and I grinned right back.

King Aragorn cleared his throat next and all of us looked at him. Gimli was the only one not to get anything yet and I hoped something really good was coming his way. He was the one I felt I could go to when I was nervous or scared about the quick twists and turns our lives were taking.

“Gimli, son of Gloin, a messenger came earlier today with a gift for you from the Blue Mountains. And here he is to give it to you himself.” He gestured with his free hand. Arwen had a good grip on his other one.

And from behind one of the massive oak trunks out stepped a Dwarf who radiated power even to my own untutored eyes. Gimli gasped and sprang to his feet, Legolas right behind him, his hands going to his lover’s shoulders. The rest of us followed suit even though we didn’t know why or at least I didn’t know why.

“Well, Gimli, this was interesting news to find upon my arrival.” The stranger walked between the colorful blankets until he was almost nose to nose with Gimli.

“My King,” Gimli bowed low but then straightened back up proudly. “It is good of you to come to help me celebrate my bonding. King Thorin, I would like to introduce my bonded, Prince Legolas. Love, this is King Thorin III of the Blue Mountains.”

They gravely shook hands while eyeing each other tensely. Then the King cleared his throat. “Well, you never did anything by halves, did you, Cousin? With all the gift giving on this day, I choose to give you a responsibility. The Blue Star Mountains have been long neglected because of their proximity to the cursed lands of Angmar. That must not be allowed to continue. Therefore, I invest you with the title of Prince Gimli of the Blue Stars with all the duties that entails.”

From his pocket, he pulled out a pendant that shone of mithril and gold interlaced together in the shape of a mountain. He placed it around Gimli’s neck then shook hands with the stunned dwarf. Legolas and Frodo were both crying again and so was I to tell the truth. Gimli stammered his thanks to his King and Thorin accepted them gracefully before going to sit by King Aragorn.

The volume of sound rose ever louder while everyone discussed the events of the last half hour. I know that I was all worn out with everything that had happened. Even happiness takes a toll when there’s no break to take it all in. Frodo was drooping a little and I coaxed him down onto the blanket with his head in my lap. I stroked his hair with one hand while I held his other one and I watched him drop to sleep almost instantly.

It was the most wonderful day of my life.

******* Gimli *******
I felt as if an ax had been battering my head. Part of me had to keep looking over at my King to make sure he was really here while another part of me just kept saying ‘Prince Gimli’ over and over. I’d known the Elven Council had something planned but the relief that crashed through me when I heard them call him Prince Legolas of Vestella almost made me cry.

He deserved no less, but as for myself . . .

Prince Gimli . . . that had never been part of my plans. But Legolas’ soft ‘beloved’ had smoothed away the disbelief that flooded me when he hung the chain of office around my neck. Looking down, I traced the slender lines of the mountain and realized for the first time what it really meant. I could offer clan status to any Dwarf who wished to join us. Balik would just be the first of many who might want a challenge.

Dwarves breed so slowly we could ill afford to lose any kin at all. And the past wars had decimated our ranks until we still might become a dying race. Perhaps this would be a new beginning for my people as well. I prayed it would be so and picking up Legolas’ hand, I nestled a kiss in his palm.

“Beloved Gimli, what a very nice Dwarf your king is. I’m so glad he sees your true worth. You will be a fine clan chieftain and your kin will find marvels in our new home, I know it.” He kissed my lips chastely and I had to lick them afterwards to gather his taste.

“I must admit to some surprise at his gift but I’m not going to say him nay.” I snorted quietly and watched him chuckle. “It’s been a surprising day, my love. I should probably tell him our other news, too.”

“Only if I’m with you, my love.” Legolas looked as stern as he could, which wasn’t very stern by Dwarf standards. “But I agree he needs to know as do the rest of the Dwarves. It will influence how comfortable they are once it becomes clear that Frodo and I are pregnant.”

“Yes, it will. But that is something I do not wish you to have to witness. I’m a tough Dwarf and I can take some yelling. Of course, Aragorn may have already told King Thorin so he wouldn’t face any surprises.”

“Ah, the ‘you never do anything by halves’ comment.” Legolas cast a quick look at the Dwarf King so I did, too. The look of fascination on his face told me our secret was one no more.

“Well, I’ll make a space for him later today so he can talk to me the way Celeborn needs to talk to you.” I nestled another kiss in my love’s palm. Let Thorin think what he liked, I was the happiest Dwarf in a thousand leagues or more. And it had nothing to do with being made a prince but with the Elf who was feeding me a whipped cream covered strawberry.

I was the luckiest Dwarf in Middle-earth.

*****

Crawling into bed, I sank back with a sigh. “Goodness, my love, I’m all talked out.”

He chuckled and laid a gentle hand on my chest, combing through the black curls there. “I had no idea Dwarves could out talk Elves. Your King Thorin is a very interesting Dwarf. His tales showed me a whole other side of you. I think Pip might not be the only one teaching our children all the best tricks.”

I blushed at the childhood tales the king had just had to tell my bond-mate. “He exaggerated, Legolas. Our children will never be the little mischief makers either of us were.”

“Really?” That elegant eyebrow arched up while he slid over me like a blanket of warm flesh. “I think you may have mistaken these babies for someone else’s.”

“Oh no, I know exactly who they belong to.” A sudden fierce sense of possessiveness gripped me and I pulled him down by his hair to my lips. “They are yours and mine, beloved. And if the changes in your body continue so that you can deliver them safely, I plan on keeping you barefoot and pregnant for some time to come.”

He kissed me hard, biting my lower lip and hardening my cock in the space of a heartbeat. I reached for the oil we kept by the bed and got some on my fingers to stroke over his entrance. Legolas stretched all over and helped me coat my cock with the spring scented oil. Then with a fierce look, he reached behind him to guide me home within his molten depths.

That moment when we first connect is so precious to me I always caught my breath at the joy. His eyes half closed and his voice was sultry when he finished sitting down onto my thighs. “My bonded, this is the first time we’ve made love as bonded.”

“Yes,” I realized with a thrill of delight. “My beloved bonded, how very kind of you to take me in this way.”

“I will always take you in, dearest Gimli.” He began the gentle rocking we usually started with. “And if you wish more children then I will be glad to carry them.” His hands came down to meet mine and bring them back to his stomach. “With great good care, we will raise a dozen babies to bless this new age. Of course, I’ll expect constant back-rubs and pampering. Are you sure that you’re . . .” he rose and fell on my cock a little more quickly, “up for that?”

I thrust up when he came down and watched his flush begin to blush everywhere. “I will be your willing slave, at your beck and call for the rest of our lives. And our children will know that their mother and father love them more than words could ever say.”

His smile was slow but bright and he leaned in just a little so his hair tickled my nipples. That was a new torment and in revenge, I slid my hand up to his pretty pink peaks. His gasp disconcerted me and I immediately let them go. “Beloved?”

“They grow more sensitive, the further this pregnancy continues. Galadriel said it was so for her and most of the other Elven mothers she knows. I may even be able to nurse the babes at my breast.” He looked rather sheepish but I was having none of that.

“You will nurture them in so many ways that this is just one more. I’ll be careful.”

“Oh, you didn’t hurt me, Gimli. They’re just so much more sensitive it felt like being struck by lightning.” He shivered a little and I very gently brushed the tips of my fingers over them. “Oh, love.”

Smiling, I continued the gentle caresses until he was writhing over me and our pace quickened again. Very slowly, I rolled us so he lay beneath me. Keeping most of my weight off of his stomach, I began the harder thrusts that always gave us the most pleasure.

His groan was part gasp and part moan when the tips of my hair teased his nipples to reddest rose. Loving words were spoken continuously until he flushed all over and I knew it was time for a final volley. My cock was iron-hard but his heat was melting me into molten metal. Three more strokes and he was coming between us. One more thrust and I released deep inside of him.

We were both shaking but I retained enough sense to roll us to our sides. I wasn’t sure how much longer we’d be able to make love in this position but for now, I cherished the ability to kiss him while I was still deep within him.

“Beloved bondmate.” He whispered to me. “Our journeys begin again.”

“Sleep well, my love.” I whispered back. “Tomorrow is yet another new beginning.”

And I fell asleep to the sound of his chuckle.