AN: By public demand I have extended this fic. Have now decided at the suggestion of Nezad that it is to be set in Gondor just after the War. The full story behind the scars will be revealed in a series called "False Hope" which as some will know will be the follow-on the the "Childish Fears" series (just throwing teasers around ;D ).

"DREAMING II"

I suppose it's a strange place to be - on the line between asleep and awake. Where half your mind is shut off to rest and wander in dreams and the other half is still aware. Where you can't really see, but you can still tell what's happening around you. I do not think of it as being abnormal, but other kinds might.

I can tell the Dwarf is staring at me. He's looking at me like I'm something strange. I wish he wouldn't stare at me so; it makes me feel strange when his gaze bores into me like that. It makes things difficult, when only just now I was allowing my mind to imagine him. Not really the sort of dreams it is practical for one to have when lying naked next to the object of one's desires.

The object of my desires. It almost makes me laugh to think I have fallen for a Dwarf. But it is as true as day, stronger and deeper than the roots of the mountains. I never thought I would love. I didn't think I was capable of it. I was certainly capable of lust, but I didn't lust after Gimli. That was why it came as such a shock to me when I realised I was in love with him. It crept up on me so softly, so unfamiliar. It frightened me at first. Then it broke my heart for I thought he would never return my feelings. But I saw the emotion in his eyes just some days ago when he looked at me and I know he does. As strange as it sounds, I can tell he loves me as I love him. And that makes me even more afraid and heartbroken.

Galadriel warned me of the Sea, that if I heard the Sea I would never know peace again. The Sea is the least of my worries. I have fallen in love with a mortal. I could tell him, I could end my suffering and my hunger - and his - for maybe another 100 years, perhaps a few more, then he would die. And I would be alone.

I would rather not know, than know and lose him. I would love to be with him properly, but it would only hurt more when the day came for him to pass. I am a coward, I know, but my heart could not bear it.

I think he is looking at my scars. I wish he wouldn't. I don't want to have to explain them to him, of how I was tortured and defiled by cruel hands and have not taken a lover since. How I would love for him to be the one. But if he knew, would he want me? Would he want to know what the word scrawled across my lower back - though long healed and faded so much that it is hardly readable - actually meant. 'Unclean'. Would he want me then? I think not.

So all I can do is dream of him. Dangerous and foolish when he is lying so close to me, but it is all I can do. And I have to do it. I listen to the sound of his breathing and let my mind slip back to where it was before. Imagining that he is making love to me.

I feel - though I am not sure if it is real or dream - his hand come to rest on my hip and I cannot help but roll over closer to him. The awake part of my mind screams at me not to, he would be able to feel the effect of my desire like a rock, but the dreams are stronger at the moment and pay no heed to its warning. I have to feel him close to me.

I can feel his hardness against my leg, and it hurts so much. If I were to wake properly and utter but three words to him he could be making love to me for real.

/Why did this have to happen to me? Why am I such a coward?! / My mind screams, and perhaps my mouth does too, though I am safe in the knowledge that he does not understand my language.

I can feel his breath upon my lips and I hear myself demand that he kiss me.

I am a fool for letting my heart act in such a way. I don't think it has been known for any Elf to become soft with emotion over a Dwarf, but I seem to have no say in the matter. I have fallen in love with him. I never thought it was possible to love someone, and want someone, so much that it physically hurts. I can feel it pulling on my heart more and more day by day. But I cannot stay away from him. Just the sight of his smile and the sound of his voice eases the weight. But when I am away from him it hurts so much. I love him.

The need and hunger I feel is almost unbearable. It's nearly enough to make me cry. I can take this time to fool him that I know not what I am doing and to kiss him. He doesn't understand the way I sleep.

I move closer to him, sliding my arm around his shoulders and draping my leg across his hip. I can feel the heat from his thigh burning into me. I run my tongue across his lips, praying that he will not turn away from me. He doesn't. He kisses me back.

I can feel him trembling. Is he so afraid of me? Is he afraid of what he feels, just as I am? Is he afraid of rejection? Is that why he has said nothing to me? I had not thought of what I would do if he confessed his feelings to me. Would I deny mine then? I am not sure I could.

But I cannot think of that now. I must not.

I slip my tongue into his mouth. He tastes like ale and pipe tobacco. Like a Dwarf should, I think. Whatever a Dwarf should taste like.

He doesn't respond. He is afraid. This is hurting him more than me keeping my silence about my feelings. He likely thinks I am dreaming of another. I nearly stop, it is cruel for me to be using him like this, but then he returns my kiss and I could not stop if my life depended on it.

I cannot feel as strongly as I would like to, but I have to keep my body turned off enough to keep up the fa├žade that I am fast asleep. I pull him closer and he moves against me. It is almost too much. I long to wake and make it real but I can't.

I feel his strong arm wrap around me and I feel so safe in his embrace. His hand sinks into my hair and his touch is so gentle it surprises me. I did not imagine hands used to mining and carving to be so tender. The fingertips of his other hand brush down my chest and across my nipple. He could have no idea how that makes me feel. I cannot keep silent.

I turn my head into his neck in the hope it will hint to him my second weak spot and it does. Within a second his fingers are running over my ear, and a second later his lips. I can feel his beard against my skin, at one time the thought of it would have repulsed me but no longer. I can see his beauty beneath the stout rough exterior. He is sweet and gentle.

He pulls back and I cannot let him, so I tell him: "Again."

He finds my weakest point as he extends his tongue into the point of my ear and I turn into clay in his hands.

/Touch me. /

Did I say that aloud? I must have for he is! Oh sweet Elbereth, how good his hand feels. I feel him shake with a little chuckle. What amuses him so?!

I wish I could touch him back. I need to. But I can't.

/Melamin./

He is, without any doubt, my love. My only love. No other could touch me like this. I could not feel so safe in another's arms. I will never love again if I do not let myself love him.

He must be feeling pain as well for his hand suddenly stills. I feel a tear escape me, though whether it is frustration or hurt I do not know. I know he is crying too.

I kiss him again and I feel his hesitation but he is willing to fulfill my yearning even at the cost of worsening his own. I know he thinks I could never love him. I can almost read his mind. He seems almost detached from his own hand as he touches me. What is he thinking? What is he feeling?

I know he cries as I spend myself, but for a moment I cannot help but smile, too short of breath to do anything else. Then I realise, how much I truly want this to be real. How much I truly want him. I will have him for but a moment in my life, but I want him. Alas for me, my heart will never know peace again and the Sea will not be the cause. I will lose him. I will lose my soul. I have already lost my heart.

I close my eyes so he can't see my tears but I can still feel his eyes on me.

"I love you."

I can almost feel him flinch as I say it, like I have stabbed him with some cold blade. I have to turn away from him before he sees my tears escape my eyelids.

I feel him rise and move closer to me, and I feel his lips at my ear again.

"I love you. I wish you knew."

"I know," I tell him but he only hears the utterings of a dreamer. "Keep telling me."

But he doesn't. And I know he never will. Unless I let him.

~END~