Neither Legolas nor Gimli had expected to become so close. After all, who would think they could ever tolerate each other. But they had become quite the pair. More than that, they loved each other. Even more shocking they had developed real, romantic feelings for each other, but it didn’t matter. Who had time for love when you were chasing two hobbits down and trying to prevent the end of the world? And now they had come here. To the beginning of the end.
Gimli could not remember a time in his life that he had been more scared. And his life thus far had not been exactly a walk in the park. He’d seen his uncle entombed in his own supposed kingdom and his comrades captured and killed. He’d been running himself ragged on just a few hours of sleep for months with very little to eat. And through everything, he had known that each and every one of those trials might be totally in vain. But all of that was nothing compared to this.
Here he was looking straight into the mouth of the Path of the Dead, he could feel the ominous energy flowing from the yawning cave. He had followed his company through everything staunchly, but his unfailing legs refused to go any further.
Realizing Gimli was not following, Legolas turned and came to the edge of the opening, giving him the kindest smile he could manage at a time like this, and stretched out his hand. “It will be alright Gimli. I am with you.” Gimli managed to force himself to just get to his hand. Legolas’s hand was like a tether to him through the path of the dead.
Every time Gimli thought he could go no further it seemed that Legolas could sense it and would give his hand three firm squeezes. The dwarf was amazed at how that simple reassurance that he was not alone in that complete darkness let a little light into his heart. He longed for something to swing his axe at and the ability to take action.
Finally, finally, they were able to get out the long dark tunnel and mount their horses again. With rage and strength and power in his voice, Aragorn urged the army to race toward Minas Tirith. Gimli felt that Legolas’ arm never strayed from his torso, even though he could stay on the horse just fine (as he informed him). He knew he had confusing feelings for his companion, but they had been through so much together, he thought it only made sense.
What Gimli did not know was that while Legolas was his tether through the path of the dead, Gimli was the elf’s rock. He could not seem to let go of him if he tried.
It felt like years that they galloped with the oathbreakers until they were finally released. All any of them wanted was to get to Gondor and bring them aid. They knew that every passing second brought the first hold against Mordor closer to the point of no return.
“I am going to be very irritated if those hobbits get themselves killed. After all the work we went through to hunt them down.” Gimli muttered under his breath. He felt the slight rumble of Legolas’ laugh from behind.
“They are stronger than you know.”
None of them knew how long they had been traveling when they finally reached the city. All Gimli knew was that his axe had been readied for some time and thirsted for the blood of orcs. Legolas’ eyes were sharpened and ready for battle. Standing side by side, flying Aragorn’s banner they felt unstoppable.
They heard the sounds of battle from far away. Groans, screams, steel on steel crashing as enemies met. In their anxiety, the elf and the dwarf clasped hands, waiting to finally reach the field. As soon as they came ashore Gimli rushed forward giving a great battle cry and his axe raised. Legolas came after him, already unleashing arrows, each finding their mark.
Between the two of them, they carved a path through the orcs and southron men and other fell creatures from Mordor. It almost became a dance. Gimli swinging his axe to all sides in great strokes, cutting through four orcs in one turn. Legolas flitting after him among the bloodied bodies, shooting down the enemies that would come charging, trying to overwhelm the dwarf. They fought with the strength of at least twenty during that battle.
It was then that it happened. They were fighting back to back now, just trying to ward off the waves on waves of fighters rushing over them. Legolas saw it as if in slow motion. As Gimli was striking an orc over the head, one of the southron men lunged forward with a sword toward his throat.
With speed and dexterity that Legolas himself did not know he possessed, he fired an arrow into the man’s heart. His sword had been so close to Gimli’s neck it pricked the skin and blood matted his beard. The dwarf did not feel the pain. He looked instead at Legolas, who was now whirling in all directions. Almost mechanically Gimli himself kept fighting even as he realized something.
He had really almost just died.
And he might very well die today. And even if he escaped that threat (as much as it pained him to think this) Legolas could fall. Everything that had held him back before. The quest, his family, his race, the war, none of it mattered now. He had to tell him.
“Legolas!” He shouted over the din of battle. “I need to tell you something.”
The elf gave him an incredulous look, as he used his bow to beat off an incoming orc. “Can it wait?!”
“No!” Gimli shouted back, looking him defiantly in the eyes.
“Well, if you must!”
“Legolas...I love you!” He roared it so loud it stunned even some of their enemies. He might have imagined it but he thought he saw the usually pale complexion of the elf go slightly pink.
“What do you mean?!” Legolas cried back.
“What do you mean, what do I mean?! I thought I was pretty damn clear!”
“D-do you mean just as a member of our fellowship, as a friend, as a companion?”
“No!” Gimli again shouted.
“So, you mean to say...”
“I mean to say I am in love with you Legolas, and I know it may sound ridiculous. But any one of these could be our last breaths and-”
“I love you too!”
“Oh!” Gimli exclaimed, and grinned even amid the blood and dread and death that surrounded them. “Then I have a request.”
“Name it.” And even here he made his voice seem gentle.
“If this is my last day alive, I want to go knowing what it is to kiss the most beautiful being in all the land.”
This time, Legolas definitely blushed. As they were fighting, they had been separated a bit by bodies and other warriors. Now they literally cleaved a path towards each other. Now, they were not only driven by desperation and hope but also by love.
Finally, they met. In the middle of the battlefield, Gimli reached up to greet him and Legolas bent to embrace him. Gimli felt Legolas’ smooth, almost silken lips against his rough but hardy ones. The kiss was desperate and passionate. It was one familiar to all lovers who had lived through a war.
After all, to both of them, this would be their first and most probably their last kiss. It had to count for everything. It had to count for shy first kisses that should have happened in a peaceful land after moonlit walks. It had to count for heady, lustful kisses in the bedroom. It had to count for lazy morning kisses still half in dreamland. It had to count for kisses where they laughed against each other's lips and then pulled each other closer. It had to count for the whole life they could suddenly see together as their lips touched.
And it couldn’t.
All they knew pointed to that life being impossible. After all, without this war, they never would have met, and with this war, they could not live in peace. But in this instant, they knew of the potential of their lives merging.
As they finally broke away, unaware now of anything except each other, tears welled in both their eyes. But there was still a battle to be fought. Still, an oath to be fulfilled.
They had promised the fellowship their bow and axe and they would give all they could. For Gondor, for Aragorn, for Gandalf, for Frodo, until their last breath. Knowing he would no longer have regrets if he met his fate this day, Gimli charged forward once more, axe glinting in the rising sun.