Truth and Consequences
L:G slash (Off screen) Angst fest again, sorry, but it has a h/e
Sad sequel to Beasts and Bees
Inspired by this line from the Old Man. Appendix A Durin's Folk.
'For Dwarves take only one husband or wife each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights.'
And GK Chesterton's 'Ballad of the White Horse'
The thing on the blind side of the heart
On the wrong side of the door
The green plant growth, menacing
Almighty lovers in the Spring
There is always a forgotten thing,
And love is never secure.
Thanks to Theresa again for her great Beta, but I am afraid I could not tempt her to lighten this up. Go read something yummy of hers after this, if it leaves you a little sad.
Gimli told himself that he shouldn't be doing this. In his heart of hearts he knew it was wrong, that nothing but misery would come of it. Here he was skulking through the nameless smells and black shadows of Minas Tirith's alleyways, secretly following his lover because he could not bring himself to trust him.
There was foot traffic enough to conceal him from Legolas' attention, this mid-evening of a week day, and Gimli could see the Elf was heading straight to the royal gardens, as he had said he would, allowing him to hang back.
Still Gimli could not stop himself. He had convinced himself that there was something in his love's eyes as he had dutifully answered Gimli's questions earlier in the evening before he went out, something the Dwarf could not identify. He had brooded over the enigma and concluded that Legolas had some secret he was keeping from him. The Dwarf burned to know what it was.
The Elf was his, in body and soul and secrets were not allowed between them. Gimli watched as the Elf reached the gateway in the low wall that separated the royal park from the street. Legolas stopped and bowed his head.
Was that guilt? Was Legolas having second thoughts? Gimli looked intently from the shadows and Legolas shifted slightly, glancing around as if he felt Gimli's gaze. The Dwarf moved back further into the dark. It never did to underestimate his lover's senses, but after nearly a hundred years of friendship and a year of intimacy Gimli had a very good idea of the limits of elven abilities.
Gimli felt his heart clench as another figure stepped out of the dark beneath the trees and drifted towards Legolas. A woman. Gimli felt his dreams falling in shattered pieces around him. He saw her place a hand on the Elf's arm and saw her speak to him, but was far to far away to hear what was said.
The moon moved fitfully into the open from behind a cloud and a shaft of light fell on the pair, lighting her face, so close to Legolas' light hair, and Gimli recognised her with a sick thud. Arwen, Aragorn's Queen.
A red haze seemed to dim Gimli's vision. "Treachery," he muttered, "base treachery."
Tears welled in his eyes rippling the scene, when Gimli had managed to blink enough to clear his sight, the pair had walked on, arm in arm, blond head bowed to dark. Going deeper into the park, of course.
Gimli clutched the axe he had picked up, automatically, as he had left their lodgings. The foolish Elf had left the building unarmed and at the time Gimli had justified it to himself by muttering about footpads that may waylay his love in these city streets. Gimli felt the cold anger of battle dress him in a frigid cloak. He knew where they would go. He had helped build the marble summer house himself.
He would catch them together and then…his mind skipped, because he could not bear to think on what would follow. For he would have no other, and could allow Legolas no other either.
He set off down the much quicker route he knew to the grotto that contained the little building. He knew the paths in this park well. When Legolas had been true to him, before he started this habit of lying and evasion, they had strolled here, and there. Gimli paused, reminded by an arrangement of thick bushes of the time they had hidden in the middle of the greenery to avoid being seen when they had been overtaken by a sudden lust one summer night.
"Had it all been a lie? An Elvish fancy? Had Legolas been secretly laughing at his lover even then?"
Once again tears blinded the Dwarf. The Elf was his, his alone.
He reached the grotto that had the summerhouse set in it like a gem in a ring. This was where he would lay in wait for the faithless pair. He would conceal himself just here, where he could see and not be seen. He would wait until their rutting distracted them and then he would act. He waited in the silence and patience Legolas had taught him over the years. Not a doubt was left; nothing in his head or heart except jealousy.
Finally he could hear the beloved cadence of Legolas' low voice, and Arwen's lighter tone. They entered the summerhouse and stood, together hand linked to hand and face-to-face.
Gimli waited for the perfect moment to confront them, waited for their mouths to meet, for his world to end.
Gimli listened, with the attention a condemned man gives the dawn, to the words Legolas was saying now to Arwen.
"…But it did not start thus. The rules were just ways to keep our happiness, to smooth over our differences."
Arwen's voice, soft and enquiring, " Little brother, I still don't understand. You seem so scared of him. Could you not leave?"
Legolas replying, hoarse, "I love him, with all my soul, and I want his happiness, but whatever I do, it is never enough. I touch a novice archer to correct his stance, and he reproaches me with silence. Some silly chit of a girl drops something in my presence, and he turns his back on me that night. I attend court here, as is my right and duty, and I have spoken to Aragorn, thus, or looked at you, so, and for a week I have to try to placate him. I wear a new shirt, it is provocative, I attend to business in Ithilien and I am ignoring him. I visit Aglorand, and the Valar forbid I speak to any but him."
Then Gimli heard weeping, the ungainly grieving of a male unused to weakness, and all his certainties wavered and slid sideways.
Then he heard Arwen say in the Sindarin he had learned so painfully to please his love. "Little brother, come, grieve not. This is an old tale, when told by women. Come," she folded him into her embrace and held him with all the care of a mother. Gimli was shamed. Shamed to the roots of his hair, that his selfish greed had brought his lover so low.
The light of the fitful moon showed Legolas regaining control of himself, hiding himself, again, behind his smooth elven mask. Gimli could hear him strive to find his voice, sniff, blink and try again.
Legolas said, "I have given him no cause." Gimli wondered how his own heart could keep breaking into smaller and smaller pieces.
Legolas said, "I am caged by him," and the pieces became like sand.
Legolas said, "He thinks me a thing, to be kept," and the shards divided again. Legolas said, "If I loved him less it would be easy," and Gimli shrank.
Legolas said, "Aiee, Arwen! I am so miserable," and wept again in Arwen's arms. Gimli was left stripped naked, all his dwarf-bred jealousy exposed, as was his possessiveness and the hateful behaviour that had led to this, the emotional destruction of the being he found he loved more than his own self.
A vast ice cave occupied the space that had once held his heart, as he realised what he had done.
Arwen let Legolas cry on her shoulder, her own tears catching the white moonlight. Gimli cried alone, and silently, filling his empty heart with pain. He could not leave until they did, and in the meantime he died, in everything but in his body.
"Forgive me, sister of my heart?" Legolas gathered himself again, wiping angrily at his wet cheeks, and pacing around the little space with an energy that was as dear as it was typical. "I must get back." Legolas did not meet Arwen's eye. "He worries." Arwen said nothing, just looked at him with her lambent eyes. Not judging, nor forgiving.
Come tomorrow, Mellon-nin. I will always listen."
Legolas nodded shortly. "If I can," and left.
Then Arwen looked straight at Gimli's hiding place, and said nothing, although Gimli froze like any mouse under a hawk's eye. She pinned him under her gaze for an eternal moment, then turned and left the summerhouse also.
Left, more alone than he had ever been in his life, Gimli cried for his folly, for what he had ruined. After a while he pleaded with the Valar to give him the wisdom to mend what he had rent, for he found that his soul would not let him live unless he could build back what he had so blindly torn apart. And if it meant losing his love he would pay the price today, and all the days hence.
He would do the hardest thing - he would change.
Gimli sat on the deep black soil of the glade and thought deeply.
He thought about everything he loved about Legolas. His strength, so deceptive with his slight build and weight. His courage, how he faced every danger with a serene heart, how he risked his immortal life time and again for principle, for love for friendship. His independence, how he grasped his own life despite his conservative family. His humble nature that was never boastful of his achievements, Gimli thought how he thrust credit onto anyone rather than take it for himself. And finally his great heart that loved as it would, despite convention or tradition, men and women, mortal and immortal and even this fool of a dwarf.
Gimli thought on. Legolas would be home now, worrying about him, about what his absence meant. It was time to put his changes into action.
It was quite simple really all he had to do was to trust. Not one more time in his life would Legolas hear. "Where were you?" in an accusing voice. No more looking for trouble or suspecting his fidelity. And though he knew the feelings would still arrive unasked, his decision was to no longer act on them. No more silences, no more suspicion. If that meant he was to be betrayed it was nothing more than he deserved, he would need proof before he would believe it.
Five letters- trust- and a lifetime to repent.
When he pushed open their lodgings door Legolas looked up, from his position in a chair in front of the fire, with wide, apprehensive eyes.
Gimli was shaken in his resolve to make no declarations, to only show the Elf how he had changed.
"Is everything all right, Gimli?" Legolas' soft voiced query was tentative, as if he were poised for flight.
Gimli took a deep breath and started as he meant to carry on.
"I am fine, love." He propped his axe on its stand and sat himself at the table, pouring a beaker of water.
"I felt like some night air and misjudged the time. Sorry if I worried you."
Legolas looked at him, mystified by his even tone. This was not the script they usually followed. However a little of the tension seemed to flow from his shoulders.
Gimli finished his water, then stretched and stood up again.
"I'm going to get a little sleep before breakfast. You?"
He held out his hand to the elf, and kept his tone and posture as deliberately non-provocative as he knew how.
The Elf narrowed his eyes, as if trying to work out what the trap was.
Legolas' hand came up and grasped the Dwarf's, who hauled him to his feet.
"I am sorry," said Gimli eventually.
Once again the elf studied his partner in mystification. "For?"
"Most things," replied the Dwarf cryptically, "but not for loving you."
Legolas smiled then, and Gimli's world launched itself onto its new course.