The Pot and the Kettle

Much gooier sequel to Truth and Consequences.

L:G slash, some angst. Romance.

Won't make a lot of sense unless you have read T&C.

By Rose Sared

OC Cirion: Aragorn's steward, Faramir's son.(See Unbinding the Box)

Aragorn was negotiating a complex trade deal with the Satrap of Near Harad. The treaty required both road and river access through Legolas and Cirion's Princedoms of Ithilien. So Legolas attended every session. The negotiations also called for careful discussions and long sessions in closed rooms, meetings that often extended well into the night.

Gimli forced himself to let Legolas go, like a hawk from his wrist; and then managed, for more than six weeks, to keep his deepest anxieties secret and not betray them, by word or deed, to his lover.

Gimli, desperate for occupation, found that splitting the large rocks that were found at the base of the mountain, was therapeutic, so he ordered a wain load to be delivered to the yard beside the Citadel's southern garden. The small space quickly took on the appearance of a quarry, as the heaps of raw rocks were reduced to neat piles of dressed stone, only the proportions changing over the weeks as Gimli worked out his frustrations. Finally Gimli was left with one knobbled, uneven, fractured boulder that was unlikely to split into any of the more useful shapes he had extracted and sorted from the previous ton or two.

Gimli rested his cold chisel on one side of it, raised his mallet to strike, puffed out a breath of annoyance and moved around to the other side to find a more likely site. Finally he stepped back and glared at the offending lump of rock. He put his hands on his hips. Still it refused him. His brows drew together, and he looked altogether so put out that the stone should have shaken itself into obedient pieces out of raw fear.

He was jolted out of his preoccupation by the silvery sound of an elven laugh coming from the gate on the right. His head whipped round; it was not the laugh of his Elf.

"Master Gimli, so fierce an expression? I would think you would save such scowls for orcs, not rocks."

Arwen Undomiel stood in the gateway, and Gimli blushed, remembering the last time he had seen her, when she had been comforting Legolas after Gimli's jealousy had nearly destroyed everything. Gimli knew Arwen had seen him that night, and suddenly he felt naked.

To give himself a moment he turned and carefully placed his chisel and mallet on the top of the boulder. Then, schooling his expression into neutrality, he turned again and bowed to the Queen, hand on his heart. As he straightened he was seized by concern.

Perhaps Legolas was not well? Fears both reasonable and ridiculous chased each other into his brain.

"My Lady, how can I serve?" Gimli managed politeness, but Arwen had read his expression, and the ice blue of her eyes softened.

"Legolas requested of me that I give you a message, Gimli." Arwen stepped forward a pace or two and Gimli could see her two handmaids waiting outside the gate. "He is going riding this afternoon with Aragorn, and the Satrap's party. He begs you to join him this evening at dinner in the Citadel as the talks are concluded, at last."

 She walked closer still and leaned down dropping her voice to a more intimate level. "He did not mean me to bring the message myself, but it pleased me to do so. Do not tell him, he would be mortified." Arwen's smile included the dwarf, and Gimli had to smile back at her, although it was a weak thing, and soon faded.

"My Lady is kind." Gimli turned himself from her shining presence. He felt ugly and dust laden in the face of her perfection, and wished that she would go. Arwen was not disposed to be merciful; she walked over to the pile of split stone and picked up a medium sized slice.

"What are these for, Gimli?"

"Landscaping, my Lady, in the southern garden, for the rill to run over, I thought."

Gimli moved up beside her and picked another piece off the pile and tapped it on the one beneath; it gave off a musical ping. " It would be pleasing to the ear?"

Arwen nodded and studied the dwarf again. She kept her tone conversational. "Is it so difficult to loosen the reins then, Gimli? That half of the mountain must be split to pave a rill?"

Gimli tossed the slice he had been holding onto the pile again and turned on her, his voice turning sharp.

"Aye, my Lady, it is. Water wears away stone, eventually – and even dwarf kind can try to change. However imperfect the result."

Arwen relented then; you could not doubt his sincerity.

"He seems so much happier, Gimli. I would he stays so."

Gimli nodded, not looking at her. "I am trying, my Lady. It gets easier with practice. Like this work." He risked a glance at her and smiled ruefully. "You would have had walls in your gardens to rival the city's, I think, if these talks had continued much longer."

Arwen laughed merrily, then turned to go, and Gimli bowed her out with some relief.

At the dinner it happened that Gimli was seated across the table from Legolas, a place or two over. His dinner companions on both sides found conversation with their respective partners easier than talking to the fierce looking dwarf, and the table was too wide to allow conversation with Cirion who was sitting opposite him. So Gimli ate, and drank in the sight of Legolas, enjoying himself.

Sitting there, looking at him, Gimli realised that the painful adjustments he had made to his behaviour meant he could now imagine a future, despite all the complications of loving his Elf. This was most definitely better than the space he had occupied scant weeks before. Legolas shone like a sun in Gimli's eyes, and occasionally the Elf would send him a fond glance in return. Gimli was content.

Finally the meal ended and Arwen rose and swept out, with her ladies, leaving the men to re-arrange themselves around the room.

The talk over pipes and wine was all of the hunt arranged for the morrow.

Legolas moved to perch on the arm of the chair beside Gimli, which surprised the dwarf a little; usually Legolas hated his pipe smoke. Gimli took a last lungful, and then leaned forward to tap his pipe out on the hearth.

"Nay, Gimli, it bothers me not."

Gimli hesitated, confused. He cast an anxious look at his friend, who narrowed his eyes at the dwarf in consideration, and then simply said.

"Later, we will talk, Gimli."

"I would have thought you had enough of talk after all these weeks, Legolas." Gimli settled back in his chair, puffing again to stoke his tobacco.

Legolas snorted. "Talk, talk, talk. The Satrap could turn a three-word sentence into an epic. Will you come on the hunt with me tomorrow?"

Gimli thought. "Nay. Would you forgive me? I promised Arwen I would build a water garden and the sooner started the sooner finished."

 Legolas reached down and squeezed his friend's shoulder. "I will not be the one to deny the Queen."

Later, Gimli took the initiative in their lovemaking, for the first time since he had decided on a new way of behaving around his love.

He had managed to dodge Legolas' threat of serious discussion, by feigning interest in the details of the trade talks, as they walked back to their lodgings. Then, when they cleared the threshold, he caught the Elf's hand and spun him into his strong embrace, pressing his ear against Legolas' chest to hear the heart he loved, working.

He leaned back after a moment and looked up intently into Legolas' midnight eyes. "May I love you, tonight? May I peel you out of these clothes?" He moved his hands up the Elf's back and down over his chest. "May I kiss your skin, here? " Gimli breathed through the fabric over one nipple, then the other. Then he ran his hands down to cup the front of Legolas' breeches. "And here."

 Legolas groaned and bent to capture Gimli's mouth with his own, his tongue twining with his mate's.

They broke apart, coming up for air, making and keeping eye contact. Gimli thrust himself against Legolas' hard thigh, once, then again. "Valar, I want to love you. May I?"

Legolas gasped, then nodded, pulling the Dwarf towards the bedroom.

*******

Later, nestled in the cage of Legolas' arms and legs, Gimli's skin was touched by his beloved Elf's skin, down the whole length of his back. Gimli found his will absent, and insistent tears leaking from his eyes.

"What?" Legolas' breath was warm against his cheek. "Gimli, what? Dear heart, tell me?"

Gimli rolled, so his head was against Legolas' smooth chest, and tried to calm himself by breathing in his lover's scent. The tears ran, tickling, into his ear.

"I'm sorry, " he managed eventually.

Legolas rolled onto his back and pulled Gimli further onto his chest. Stroked his lover's strong back and tense shoulders, as he would gentle a spooked horse. He murmured endearments into his hair.

"Please, Love, tell me."

Gimli muttered something, and shook his head petulantly.

Legolas sighed, and waited.

Finally Gimli rolled off him, swiped at his face with the edge of the sheet, then lay on his back with his arm over his eyes.

A soft pair of lips found his, and kissed him.

"What?" Legolas rested his head on Gimli's beard, and finger-combed it smooth.

"I am not good. Not good enough for you, Legolas."

Legolas tugged the beard under his hand. "I will be the judge of that."
"You are biased."

"Says who?"

"Says me."

Legolas propped himself up on an elbow. "You are telling me the person I love, is bad. Why?"

Gimli pulled his arm down off his face.

"I spied on you."

"When?"

"When you spoke to Arwen, in the summerhouse."

Silence, for several eternal heartbeats, then the Elf stopped blinking, and looked at the woebegone face of his lover.

"Ahh." Legolas ran a thoughtful finger down Gimli's nose.  "And that's what this has been about." He wound a strand of Gimli's beard round the finger and tugged gently.

"The freedom I have been granted by you, over the last weeks. Is it going to continue?"

Gimli nodded, looking at his lover's chin.

"And when it continues, will you be able to be happy?"

Gimli swallowed and nodded again, still not meeting his lover's eyes.

Legolas moved his hand to tilt Gimli's chin up. They met each other's gaze then; Gimli desperate, Legolas searching until he found some truth he needed. "That's all right then." Legolas leaned forward and kissed his partner will all the love and passion in his immortal self.

Then he said, "I promise you, Gimli, my love. No matter what the temptation. I will never be unfaithful to you. By the Valar I swear this."

"I believe you." Gimli stated simply.

 Legolas leaned again and kissed his salty eyes and then his mouth, a seal and a promise.

"So we stay bound, lover of mine."

Gimli shut his eyes again, trying to dam the tears that would come.

"Fool of an Elf," he murmured.

"Kettle, you are black, " retorted the Pot.

The End

Rose Sared