Disclaimer: Am I Tolkien? No. Do I want to be? Yes. Any questions?
Summary: Before the battle at Helm's Deep, Gimli needs a reminder of what they are fighting for.
A/N: This is the first in a series of three complete stories that fall under the same arc. The next two will have higher ratings than I can post on but I will make a note on my profile when they're written and you can see them at my website-obviously, only go if that kind of thing does not offend you. :)
Gimli stared forlornly at the approaching army of orcs - or rather, at a gray blur on the horizon that Legolas assured him was the approaching army of orcs. The elf had sighted the enemy slightly over an hour ago; there was plenty of time before they would be at the gates. Aragorn and Theoden had estimated the battle would not begin until well into the night, and the sun was not yet down. The men were inside, doing the best they could to prepare - hiding the women and children within the caves, bringing their sons forward, finding them weapons. There was much to be done before the orcs arrived.
And yet Gimli stood here, on the battlements.
He did not feel like he belonged below. He should have felt more at home here, in the stone buildings of men, than he had running across the barren plains, or in the forests of Fangorn and Lorien. But despair had begun to creep over him. Theoden's scouts had reported the approaching army at ten thousand strong, possibly more. Gimli had realized he was going to die here. Here, in this strange land, far from friends and family and everything he knew. These men were fighting for their home, but he - he was just here. Bound by love for the remainder of the Fellowship, he had followed them here and now there was no help for it. The Fellowship would end here.
And he- he should not die at all. He should live to see times and places that Gimli could not even imagine. "Yes, Legolas."
Gimli did not turn, but he heard Legolas' soft footfalls and so was not surprised to feel a warm hand come to rest on his shoulder. "What are you doing up here"
"I don't suppose you'd believe me if I said I was keeping watch on the orcs."
Legolas glanced at the blur on the horizon. "Try again."
Gimli shifted his weight to his other foot. "I do not care to be below with the men."
"They are good men" Legolas said, misunderstanding Gimli's words. "I know our first meeting with them went ill, but they have strength and courage."
"You misunderstand me" Gimli said with a sigh. "I know they are good men. That is why I cannot stand to be with them" he added quietly.
Legolas was quiet for a moment. His other hand came to rest on Gimli's other shoulder. "You fear the coming battle."
"Do you not?" Gimli pulled away, suddenly shamed before his friend. "We are outnumbered and under armed."
"Of course I fear it," Legolas said quietly, following Gimli. "It would be foolish not to. But to let that fear keep us from protecting this land would be foolish indeed."
"This land," Gimli echoed with a sigh.
Legolas rested his hands on Gimli's shoulders again. "Aye, this land."
They stood in silence for a moment, watching the horizon. Then Gimli spoke quietly. "Do you miss your home, Legolas?"
There was a pause before the elf replied. "With every breath."
Gimli exhaled heavily, feeling melancholy tightening its grip on his heart. "Aye. Home is so far away. And this" He gestured towards the barren plains, scarred and burned from recent battles. "This is what me must fight for."
"You distress me, Gimli" Legolas said, concern lacing his voice. "I have not heard you speak like this before. If I did not know better, I would think you were giving into despair."
Gimli felt an uncomfortable mental twinge that let him know Legolas had hit close to the mark. Was he despairing?
"I am not accustomed to feeling this way" he admitted. "Ever I have faced battle willingly, ready to die for my home or family or friends. But now... now home is far away, and I cannot help feeling that the fight is useless. That there is nothing here to preserve."
"People are worth preserving" Legolas said firmly, moving to stand in front of Gimli. "This land may not be meaningful to you or I - to us it is just a place to fight, a place where the battle begins. But it is someone's home."
"Yes, I know" Gimli said irritably. "I know that. But I don't feel it."
"And the people here? The men and women, the friendships and marriages and families that fill their lives?"
Gimli sighed again. "I know. I know it all in my mind, Legolas. But my heart-my heart can find nothing of beauty here." There. He had said it.
Legolas hesitated. Then he, too, sighed. "The land is not beautiful" he conceded. "And the people... we do not know them. But we must fight for them nonetheless. To fight here is to defend our own homes and families."
Gimli nodded. "I just- I wish there was something of beauty that I had with me, something to remind me why this is all worth preserving."
Legolas was silent for a moment. "You have the Lady's hair."
"Yes; but the Lady is not here."
Legolas knelt in front of Gimli, bringing their eyes to a level. "I am here" he said softly. He looked- nervous. Not an expression Gimli was used to seeing on the elven warrior.
"What are you saying" Gimli asked, meeting Legolas' gaze.
Legolas bit his lip. "I am trying to give you something beautiful." His arms were on Gimli's shoulders. "Let me?"
Gimli was confused, but he nodded. He had no inkling of what the elf was doing when he leaned forward - he was surprised, but not unpleasantly so, when a pair of warm lips pressed against his own. Without thinking he allowed the kiss. Nay, he pressed deeper into it, opening his mouth, letting Legolas slowly fill the emptiness inside him. Yes-this is what I needed. This was what would see him through the battle: Legolas' warmth and caring. It had to. It was the only thing of beauty Gimli had here.
Legolas pulled back gently after a moment, meeting Gimli's gaze solemnly. Gimli looked at him without embarrassment. Legolas took one of Gimli's hands and quietly joined it with his own-his fingers overlapped the dwarf's but his palm completely disappeared within Gimli's.
"You and I," he said softly. "Our friendship. That is something beautiful."
"Yes" Gimli said quietly, gently enfolding Legolas's palm. "Yes, it is."
They stayed there for a moment. Legolas leaned his forehead against Gimli's, and Gimli brought their joined hands to his breast while they drew strength from each other. Then Legolas stood.
"Come, Gimli," he said simply. "There is much to do."
Gimli followed him into the Keep.