Pairing: Legolas/Gimli

Rating: R

Warnings: Moderately explicit sex, serious sweetness overload (Seriously. Diabetics may wish to refrain)

Disclaimer: No infringement on anyone except Tolkien is intended; him, I infringe upon blatantly.

Never Forget

Chapter One

Legolas was not surprised when he heard the door open quietly. After today's catastrophe he fully expected Aragorn or Gandalf or both to come after him. Aragorn would offer comfort on one hand and a stern lecture on the other; Gandalf would just give the lecture. Even so, Legolas was disappointed when he saw it was Aragorn stepping into his chambers. He was certainly in no mood to be lectured to, but he was in even less of one to be comforted.

"Go away," he addressed Aragorn calmly from the bed, where he was curled up in misery.

Aragorn completely ignored him, going to the bedside table and pouring himself a drink, letting Legolas know the man intended to stay for a while. "This was a long time in the coming, my friend," he began matter-of-factly.

"Didn't you hear me?"

"And Gimli was more than provoked."

"I know."

"So you really should forgive him," Aragorn concluded.

Legolas looked at him with an expression of disbelief. "That's all you have to say?"

Aragorn studied the wine in his glass for a moment. "I could go into greater depth, but...yes, that about sums it up."

"Get out."

Aragorn raised his eyebrows at Legolas. "I'm just trying to help."

Since the man was refusing to excuse himself gracefully, Legolas got out of bed and prepared to march Aragorn to the door by force. "You have no idea what you're talking about. All you ever had to do was look at Arwen...not to mention your being several hundreds of years younger than I am!"

"I knew you were going to say that," Aragorn said with a sigh. "I told Gandalf he should have come. But he seemed to think only he could contend with Gimli's axe."

Anger flared up in Legolas. "Oh, so you're tag-teaming us? That's lovely, Aragorn, just lovely."

Aragorn realized he had erred and began to protest, "I didn't mean--"

But Legolas was having none of it. With one arm firmly on Aragorn's bicep he propelled the man towards the door. "You two are the two worst meddlers I have ever met in my life, and that is saying something. I don't know what you hoped to accomplish tonight except irritating me, but I recommend you go back to your wizard conspirator and relay my suggestion that you both keep your over-large noses out of it, will you?" Legolas pushed Aragorn through the door and retrieved the wineglass from his limp grasp. "Goodnight," he concluded angrily, and shut the door firmly.

Then he leaned against it and sighed deeply. Aragorn seemed to have decided further persuasion was useless, for he did not knock to be readmitted and after a while Legolas was sure he was gone. Listlessly he sat the wineglass down and wandered back to the bed, where he curled up on his side again.

If Aragorn was right about one thing, it was that the argument had indeed been a long time in the coming. So far the parties of both elves and dwarves who had come to Minas Tirith to celebrate Aragorn's coronation and marriage had managed to maintain a sense of strangled peace between them--due in no small part to the efforts Legolas and Gimli had made. Legolas had been horrified when, as representatives of Mirkwood, two of his older brothers had shown up. He had been positive nothing would entice any of his kin out of the great wood so soon after war had beset it; he had been certain he and Gimli would be safe for a while yet.

He had been dead wrong.

At first his brothers had shown no more than a perfunctory interest in the dwarf their younger sibling had befriended, treating him with the same vaguely scornful disdain their father would have. Legolas had given up very quickly on trying to interest them in any of the projects Gimli and his kin were developing for rebuilding Minas Tirith. He had realized sadly that getting them to admit anything dwarvish in origin was of value was time wasted. But the strain of hiding the relationship got to him more quickly than he would have thought possible; he missed having Gimli in his bed at night, missed greeting him with a kiss when they met during day. After only a few days he had sat down with his brothers and firmly explained to them that he and Gimli were in love.

The results had been explosive.

After the initial battle, which Legolas had carefully timed so only the three of them were present and Gimli himself was very far away, the brothers had settled into a brooding dislike of Gimli that expressed itself in pointed, vindictive comments whenever the conversation allowed for it: angry references to old conflicts, unflattering bits of Elvish lore about dwarf-kind brought forth loudly, implications about Gimli's family that Legolas never would have stood for but Gimli got through with gritted teeth and a bit of grumbling in Khuzdul. Until today. Until this afternoon, when Legolas's eldest brother had been imprudent enough to touch down heavily on the still open wound of the orcish occupation of Moria and Gimli had exploded.

Everyone had been surprised by the violence of Gimli's outburst. He had cursed them for a solid ten minutes without once repeating himself, giving no heed to the fact that there were at least a dozen spectators around them. At first Legolas had been paralyzed with shock; then he had found himself growing angry. It was Gloin screaming at his brothers, not Gimli; so many of the old beliefs and accusations that Legolas had fully believed his lover had abandoned in Lorien now came spewing out of Gimli's mouth, and Legolas felt betrayed. He sat there rigid with shock and anger, listening to the fight escalate until Gandalf angrily sent the two parties away--just in time to prevent a physical altercation.

The second shouting match had been private but no less fierce, and it had been between Legolas and Gimli only. Legolas had remonstrated Gimli for attacking his kin, Gimli had declared he'd been pushed over the edge and to hell with his kin, whose side was Legolas on? Legolas had replied angrily that he, too, had been provoked by the dwarf kind who were unhappy with their relationship but so far he had managed to keep his head, Gimli had made some comment about elven superiority that stung far deeper than it would have before Legolas had come to love him and crave his goodwill. It had deteriorated rapidly and ended with Gimli stomping out of the small garden terrace attached to their quarters. Only when he was gone had the anger drained out of Legolas and been replaced by misery.

If Aragorn was right about one thing it was that the fight had been unavoidable; if he was right about a second thing it was that Gimli deserved to be forgiven. But somehow Legolas couldn't. He was too hurt. He hadn't realized before now how deeply Gimli had the power to wound him. And, if he were to be honest with himself, he was also terrified. What would this do to their relationship? He had been fully aware what the consequences would be when he went to Gimli and declared his love--fully aware that it would be years before either of the families accepted their love, if they ever did. So far he and Gimli had managed to postpone this reality, living in a sort of dream. A dream where they worked by day to rebuild their friend's kingdom and lay by each other's side at night.

Now the dream had been shattered, and they could not go back.

Legolas's pained ruminations were interrupted by the sound of the door opening yet again. He sat up, fully prepared to give Gandalf a piece of his mind, but the words died on his lips.

It wasn't Gandalf. It was Gimli.