For MIddle-earth month, here is another preview of the epiogue to All That I Had. This is a WIP, which is slowly nearing completion.
BR>. Author: Elenya
Category: slash
Pairing F/S.
Rating: R for sexual content.
As Legolas and Gimli sail West, they remember a day of discovery in Ithilien.

I make no money from these stories, and give grateful thanks to JRR Tolkien for providing us with such a richly imagined world to play in.

“They were both tired again, despite sleeping through part of the day, and as they climbed, naked, onto the bed they simply lay down in each other’s arms and drifted into a peaceful sleep. Just before Sam slipped into oblivion, he thought with delight of all the secret glades and wooded shadows in Ithilien, where two hobbits could lie unseen in love.” From The Field of Cormallen

Late in the day, as the red sun was setting into low trailing cloud that blurred the horizon, they came close enough to the land to see a wide break in the mountains where in ages past the sea had flooded in. Legolas could just make out the narrow gap in the sunset-tinged cliffs that marked the entrance to the Mithlond. From here, Elves had always set out into the West. Gimli was fulsome in his praise, but Legolas knew it was more luck than judgement. He tacked again, and let out the mainsail and jib to run before the wind. After a moment, he asked Gimli to bring the jib over, so they sailed goose-winged across the darkening sea. As the last rim of red disappeared before them, Gimli nudged Legolas and pointed astern. In the East, the moon rose full above the land, turning their wake into a path of gold. Ahead of them, the gold shivered over the water, stretching to the horizon. It was a good omen. Instinctively, Legolas eased the tiller so that they sailed on the path laid out. Gimli clutched his arm, pointing to the water that foamed around them. The swell had died, and beyond their own bow wave, the sea’s surface was like a mirror reflecting the stars. Legolas glanced up. The brightness of the moon hid all but Eärendil, sailing high above. He looked down again. The myriad stars winked back.

‘We’re on the Path,’ he whispered, as though they might be noticed if he made too much noise, noticed and turned back. ‘Those stars are below us!’

Gimli nodded, stricken dumb at the wonder of it. Now, Legolas could see the sea below, still with the swell they had ridden, curving away as they sailed on. He moved the tiller, and felt Nimaiwë respond. It was reassuring to know they were still sailing, but he must beware an accidental jibe. He had a sudden horrible image of the boom crashing over, sweeping Gimli from the boat, the dwarf tumbling helplessly from their great height, arms flailing. He shivered and laid his free arm protectively along the side of the boat behind Gimli’s back.

‘You’re cold. I’ll fetch your cloak.’

‘No; I’m fine.’

Gimli touched his hand. ‘You are cold. Why do you always have to prove that Elves are more stubborn than Dwarves?’ He stood, bringing their eyes almost on a level. ‘So, how long before we get there?’

‘You sound like Pippin after we left Rivendell. Either sit down, or go below and get some sleep; whatever you do, keep your head below the level of the boom.’

Gimli muttered something indistinct and guttural. “You sound like my father,” was Legolas’s best guess, but that was based more on the roll of Gimli’s eyes and the tone of his voice than any knowledge of the actual words. He accepted the cloak and the lantern that Gimli fetched, and was pleased when Gimli opted to sit with him. He lit and hoisted the light, but the moonlight outshone it, casting dark pools of shadows that stretched over the sea. His thoughts ran both ahead and back - hoping again that they would find Frodo and Sam, find that they had been reunited, and also remembering back to his first discovery of their love. ‘Do you remember?’ he asked.

‘What? What am I to remember?’ Gimli pulled his own cloak closer and turned to lean his back against Legolas, his feet on the wooden seat, his knees hugged tight. ‘Is this some Elvish riddling game?’

‘Do you remember coming upon Frodo and Sam in Ithilien?’

‘Oh, that. Now that was an eye-opener and no mistake, if you take my meaning.’

Legolas laughed; the mimicry of Sam was plain to hear in Gimli’s voice. ‘Yes. That. It was...’ He stopped embarrassed.

Gimli twisted his head to look at Legolas. ‘Enjoyable, I seem to remember. You had a silly smile on your face for days after.’

‘It was very loving - beautiful - not like... not like...’ He stopped again, the memory of Tom’s bare arse, and Barard’s language, making his face heat. It was like the difference between Elvish music - each perfect note flowing into the next - and the wild, restless anarchy of the Haradrim drum circle.

‘Legolas, don’t be such a prude.’

Legolas stiffened in indignation. ‘I hardly think you can comment. You didn’t see -’

‘Hmph. That’s what you think.’ Gimli settled back more comfortably against his elven backrest.

‘You weren’t there!’

‘No, that’s true, but I remember hearing some strange cries echoing around Aglarond and going to investigate. Randy little buggers.’ His voice was tolerant and affectionate. ‘And look at all those hobbits Pippin sired. It’s not the dwarvish way, but it seems to be the way of Halflings. They have a lust for life, don’t you think? No matter if it’s eating or drinking, smoking or shagging, they don’t do it by halves. Anyway, I don’t think you can accuse Tom and Barard of not being loving.’

‘I didn’t mean -’

‘But that’s what you said.’

‘You irritating dwarf. If you’re going to keep interrupting me, I might as well just throw you overboard now. I can’t think why I let you persuade me to bring you along.’ He shifted slightly, to stop the dwarf’s shoulder blades from digging into him, and laid his free arm along the side of the boat again, so making a more comfortable support for his friend. It was a wonder to him that Gimli’s presence had not kept them from the Path, but he was glad. He laughed suddenly.

‘Now what?’

‘I was thinking of the strangeness of my being glad you’re here with me, when you are so very annoying.’

The noise Gimli made sounded like, “Huff!” Legolas ignored him, looking back into the past. He skirted around the edge of his memories of the younger hobbits, Tom and Barard, avoiding too clear a recall of their lusty coupling. That was the difference. He could see again Sam’s diffidence, his gentleness, and Frodo’s reliance on him. He - they - shouldn’t have watched as long as they did, but he had been worried about Frodo, concerned by the tears and the weariness. The very air around their small Ringbearer had a dullness and drabness, and that despite the sunshine fanning through the trees, lighting the clearing in Ithilien into a shimmer of green and gold.

Legolas heard again a sharp cry of fear that halted him in his tracks, his hand raised to stop the dwarf’s inconsequential grumblings and heavy boot fall. ‘Shhhh!’

‘What do you mean, “shhh”?’

‘What do you think I mean,’ hissed Legolas. ‘I mean shut-up! Listen!’ There it was again, wild and fearful.

Gimli cocked his head. ‘Over there.’

Legolas nodded, and together they slipped through the trees. Gimli loosened his axe from his belt; Legolas strung an arrow. Not far ahead came the sound of someone gasping to draw breath. A lightening of the wooded gloom told them of a clearing. Carefully, no need for discussion, they crept to a large bay tree offering more cover than the surrounding larch. Legolas kept his arrow ready as Gimli slowly drew down a branch of the bay. At the sight of Frodo cradled in Sam’s arms, they surveyed the area quickly for any sign of an enemy’s attack. Seeing none, they lowered their weapons, reluctant to step out. Frodo’s face was wet with tears, and they had no wish to embarrass him. Firewood lay scattered close by, as though thrown down heedlessly.

‘Hush, me dear. Hush, now. Your Sam’s here. It’s naught but a dream.’

‘Sam?’ Tentative and unbelieving, then stronger. ‘Sam!’ Frodo clutched at Sam’s arm, the knuckle of his left hand whitening as his fingers dug in. His right hand held on more clumsily, the jarring gap puckered with new scar tissue. Blankets tangled around his leg. Close by, blackened stones encircled the ash of a spent fire. Legolas and Gimli looked at each other, still hesitating; neither wanted to intrude, and yet to leave was not an option. Frodo looked sick, his face drawn into lines of pain, and they might be needed, if only to carry him back to the Ringbearers’ refuge in Northern Ithilien. What was Gandalf thinking, to let these two small heroes wander out alone?

Sam pulled Frodo closer, and freed one of his hands to stroke his master’s face; his words were almost inaudible even to Legolas, murmurs of love and comfort. Frodo relaxed, his eyes closing, face tilting as one would to the warmth of the sun, and Sam bent to him, cupping his head as their mouths met. Legolas’s own mouth fell open, and from beside him came a grunt of surprise. Sam’s head was hidden by a falling disorder of raggedly cut hair, but it was obvious that Frodo’s mouth was open to him, jaw and throat working in a slow rhythm. The clutching hand relaxed and opened, palm and fingers sweeping up to wrap more naturally around Sam’s shoulder. As the two hobbits parted, Frodo smiled - his eyes still closed - and laid his head against Sam’s shoulder; Sam shifted slightly, settling Frodo more comfortably, and kissed his forehead.

‘Sam.’ Soft and comfortable, Frodo’s voice was full of love.

‘There, me dear. Is that better? It was a dream, nothing more. I’ll get us a fire going, and make you some breakfast, and then you’ll be as right as nine pence.’

‘Don’t go.’

‘I’m not going anywhere. Just lighting the fire -.’

‘No, I mean, don’t go and light the fire. Not yet. Lie with me. I missed you in my sleep, I think.’

There was a moment of stillness, and Legolas could almost hear Sam’s thoughts debating the matter - whether to do as Frodo asked or whether he would better serve his master by insisting that he eat and drink. Legolas had not travelled long miles with the hobbits without knowing that Sam’s first care was always what was best for Frodo. At first, it seemed he had decided against Frodo’s wishes; he eased Frodo down into the nest of blankets and stood over him, but just as the thought came to Legolas that he and Gimli could show themselves once the fire was built and lit - claim they had seen the smoke and come to investigate - Sam flicked his braces from his shoulders and pulled his shirt over his head in one fluid movement. Frodo pushed back the blankets that were still caught around his legs, and Legolas realised - with a flush of heat - that not only was Frodo naked, but that Sam soon would be. He had seen them naked often enough in the days of the Fellowship, wherever there was clean water deep enough to bathe in, but the intention here was unmistakable; to lie and offer comfort did not require nakedness. The way the hobbits held eye contact, the way Frodo swallowed, their quickened breath, all declared them to be lovers.

Very quietly, Legolas turned and waved a hand in front of his mesmerised companion’s face. Gimli blinked and looked up; he scowled as Legolas indicated back the way they had come with a quick jerk of his head. Retreat seemed the best option, but in this Legolas had reckoned without the dwarf’s indifferent wood craft. The snap of a dry branch under Gimli’s heavily booted foot made them freeze in their tracks. In the clearing, Sam paused in the act of stepping out of his breeches and looked straight towards them. Only the green and brown hues of their clothes, and the thick growth of the bay’s branches, hid them from his searching eyes. Sam paused a moment, alert and watchful, then turned back to Frodo, discarding his breeches with an unfamiliar carelessness. Gimli very slowly lifted his foot away from the broken talebearer, and shrugged apologetically. They did not dare move after that; to be caught now would be to admit they had been watching. Legolas sighed and tried to convince himself that his small friends needed guarding, that it was right and proper he should stay. He watched as Frodo reached out his good hand to Sam to draw him into his embrace, and was struck anew by the thinness of their bodies. He had known they were near starvation when found, but seeing the prominence of bones that should be covered by the soft rounding of flesh was a harsh reminder of how much they had suffered. He averted his eyes, wondering whom he was fooling in pretending that was all he noticed about their bodies.

Studying the larch-needle strewn ground - the iridescence of a black beetle, a trail of ants - Legolas was still aware of Sam’s slow gentle movements, aware of him pulling the blanket snug around himself and Frodo. The familiar calls of goldcrests high in the trees interwove with soft exclamations and breathless gasps, worlds known and unknown colliding and mingling for the edification of Legolas the elf. It was not as though Gandalf had not warned him: one could know hobbits for a hundred years and yet still be surprised. What hope was there for him, who had known them for only a few months?

A loud cry from Frodo brought his head up and round in worry; surely Sam would not - could not - hurt his master. Frodo was on all fours now, his head hanging down so that Legolas could not see his expression, but one hand opened and closed convulsively on his bedding. Beneath the blanket it was obvious that Sam covered him with his body, held him close with one arm wrapped around him, thrust against him. Frodo cried out once more, his forearms giving way so that he collapsed down onto his elbows, rocked by Sam’s movement.

‘Me dear; oh, me dear,’ murmured Sam, and there was no doubting the tenderness and love contained within the words.

Legolas turned his face up to the sky framed by the towering larch that were clothed in the new green of spring; to the east the early sun had still not risen above the trees, and the sunlight filtered down in broken shafts that made the air shimmer with a golden light. High above, small white clouds drifted on a wind that did not disturb the woodland; already the day was warm. He could look away, but he could not block out the sounds and cries, the panting breath that quickened and then caught on a series of deep moans, and Sam’s name cried aloud. From the corner of his eye, he caught the quick movement of collapse, and even with the soft glow of the morning light, he was aware of another light - like the pale translucency of the full moon in a sunlit sky. Against his will, it drew his eye. The blanket had fallen away now and the hobbits lay panting in a heap of tangled limbs. Sam part-covered Frodo, part-wrapped around him, and from beneath the devoted gardener, light welled in pale defiance of the daylight. It was such a contrast to the former drabness around Frodo, that Legolas blinked back tears and smiled foolishly at Gimli. Trust Sam to know what he was doing, to know what Frodo needed.

At the memory, Legolas smiled foolishly again. He nudged Gimli to get his attention. ‘Do you remember Frodo’s light? Like starlight or... or the palest shimmer of moonlight? That was a wonder all in itself.’

‘What? His Star-glass, you mean? His gift from the Lady?’

‘No, I mean his own inner light, that Sam drew forth.’

‘Is this some elvish euphemism for rollicking good sex?’

Legolas frowned. ‘No, I mean... Didn’t you see how he glowed like a faint star-glass? But only after... after...’

‘Nothing to see. You’re making it up,’ mutter Gimli. He yawned. The weight against Legolas increased, and the dwarf’s snoring was something felt as well as heard. There was no point in protesting that he was not making it up, that he remembered Frodo’s light as clearly as if he were there again. The snores in the present were met by those in the past, as the small bodies of the hobbits lay utterly relaxed, and Sam’s snores rumbled across the clearing.