Day 4

Title: Day 4
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Rating: R
Pairing: pre-Legolas/Gimli
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: As the Fellowship heads for the mountains, Gimli comes down with a cold, and Legolas is fascinated.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2018-19 project project for Masking.

Legolas wasn't sure when he started doing headcounts, but he found himself conducting them now every time the Fellowship started back up on their journey after taking a break to bed down for the night or to stop for a meal. It wasn't even that he was worried about leaving someone behind accidentally. He simply liked being able to count and know they were all complete and ready to move out. This morning, however, he came up one head short in his count. He recounted carefully, taking note of everyone: one, two, three, four hobbits; one wizard; two men; one elf (yes, he always counted himself); but that was all.

Where was the dwarf? Gimli was always being contrary lately, arguing over what route to take, complaining that they were walking too much and eating too little. Sometimes, Legolas wished the dwarf would just be quiet and keep to himself. That wasn’t too much to ask, was it? The dwarf seemed incapable of it, however.

Legolas looked around a third time, seeing the dwarf nowhere around. With a sigh, he headed back into the cave where they'd spent the night. It had been a chilly place to bed down, but it had the benefit of being both easily defendable and out of the elements, and the rain had finally backed off during the night.  “Gimli? Are you going to be ready any time this morning? We do have a hobbit with a certain ring to deliver to Mordor, you know.”

From out of the darkness came Gimli. He trudged along with his bedroll tucked under one arm and a finger tucked under his great nose. He didn't make eye contact with Legolas; he hardly ever did unless he was drunk or hurling insults. “Leave me alone today, elf. I'm ill and don't want to deal with you.” He pushed past Legolas to make his point and headed out of the cave to join the rest of the members of the Fellowhsip, leaving Legolas standing in the cave as if frozen to the spot.

Gimli was feeling ill? What kind of illness did he mean? Could he possibly mean...?


A surge of heat rushed through Legolas' body. He went so weak at hearing the sound and it caught him so off guard that he had to reach out to the side of the cave to support himself lest his knees go weak.

“Legolas?” Legolas wheeled around, realizing only just then that he'd entirely forgotten how to breathe. He gasped, hoping he didn't do so loudly enough to invite suspicion. Boromir stood there, shield and sword already on his back. “We're breaking camp and heading out now.”

Finding that both his breath and his words were a little shaky, Legolas simply nodded and hurried after the man.


Legolas clapped a hand to his chest, feeling his heart pounding wildly beneath it. He took up the rear position so that no one could watch his reactions, but he worried that if the dwarf did much more of that glorious sneezing, it would be impossible to hide his particularly odd interest for very long. That did not mean he wished for Gimli’s silence any more, however.


huhhhh!” Gimli’s hand flew his face and his whole body tensed up. He continued walking, but his whole body was stiff as he concentrated on something… not sneezing, most likely. It was a losing battle, however good a fighter Gimli was. “Hahhhhh! Hnnng!” This dwarven cold of Gimli’s was tenacious; Legolas had never seen anything quite like it. “hahh-hnnn… nnngh ehhh hehhh huhhh…” Gimli finally stopped in place, bracing himself. “Huh... hnnng… hah… hahh HAHTSHHHHHHHH!” Gimli sneezed for the third time in as many minutes.

This time, Legolas watched from behind as Gimli's arm rose, bent at the elbow. The dwarf must be rubbing a finger or two beneath his nose now that his attempts at holding off the sneeze had failed. He only seemed to sneeze louder whenever he did that anyway, so Legolas wondered why he even bothered trying. “Does addybody hab a sbare hadky?” Gimli asked, snuffling the whole time. His poor nose must have felt full to overflowing. Legolas wished he had one to lend him, just to give himself an excuse to go over and be near the sneezing dwarf. He wanted so badly to see this dwarvish cold up close. But elves never fell ill, never caught colds, never sneezed. So Legolas carried no handkerchiefs. He had never even held one in his hand.

Samwise was first to get to Gimli with one. The small hobbit hanky wasn’t as big as the dwarf was used to, but it was apparently better than nothing. Gimli mumbled his gratitude and then immediately honked his nose into the fabric. The sound was wetter than Legolas had been expecting. Gimli sounded uncomfortable with this head cold, but he kept up his pace, soldiering onward with the rest of the Fellowship with only minimal grumbling and complaining.

It was just after mid-morning when Aragorn turned, looking down the line at his companions. “Let’s rest here for lunch!”

“Oh, I completely agree,” Pippin called out, always happy when a meal was involved.

Legolas thought he could see why Aragorn chose this place. It was another easily defendable portion of the land, with a rock face on one side as added privacy and protection. If someone were trying to sneak up on them, the party would be able to hear them coming and have time to take up their weapons.

Gimli took a seat on a low rock at a comfortable height and hunched over, rubbing two thick fingers under his sizeable nose as he sniffled. The fact that his very first action upon stopping had been to tend to his nose was revealing, and Legolas felt for him. But Legolas also felt another jolt of arousal course through him as he watched the dwarf battle his cold. He wanted to go over to Gimli, but given how gruff the dwarf had been this morning and how the long walk since then had probably only made him more miserable, Legolas did not dare.

“We should make a fire and cook something hot to eat,” Aragorn suggested. “We may not have many more opportunities to do so. It will only get colder as we ascend the mountains, and we will have snow to contend with as well.”

“I can make a stew,” Samwise offered. “Though I’ll need a few things.” When he mentioned meat, and Boromir headed off to catch some game. Samwise listed off some herbs, one of which Legolas spotted already growing in a patch not far from where Gimli sat.

“I can help to collect those,” Legolas offered. And when his offer was accepted, another rush went through Legolas at being so close to the sneezing dwarf.

Gimli let out a sigh and struggled back onto his feet. He wobbled a little, using the handle of his axe to prop himself up. “I’ll get sub wood for the fire.”

Aragorn appeared in front of him a second later, shaking his head as he blocked the dwarf’s path. “You should rest, Gimli.” He held his hand out. “If you give me your axe, I can chop some myself.”

Gimli’s grip on the handle tightened, and he swung the axe up, holding it against his shoulder with the blade up, at the ready. “Dobody touches by axe but be, laddie.”

Aragorn stepped forward and leaned over, putting his hand on Gimli’s shoulder. They looked as though they may talk confidentially about the matter, and Legolas was ready for his elf ears to help him hear every word in the argument… and every single sniffle as well. But they did not talk. Aragorn simply squeezed the dwarf’s shoulder. And, after a few moments of this, Gimli handed over his axe. He sat back down heavily on the rock, giving a couple half-restrained coughs and about a dozen strong sniffles.

Legolas headed over to the spot where the plants grew, walking casually to avoid suspicion. He tried to look like he was concentrating on gathering handfuls of the plants Sam needed, but really he couldn’t keep his eyes off Gimli. After a while, he noticed something odd.

Gimli would wind up slowly for a sneeze, because his sneezes seemed to grow stronger and take more time to come out as the day progressed, and he would clearly feel it coming. But he wouldn’t raise the handkerchief to his face. “hahhhh… ehhhah… HEH Nnggh… Hahhhhh…” And when the sneeze finally sized him, he snapped forward, his whole body giving itself over to the sneeze. “HAHHRUSCHHHH!” Only then would he lift the hanky to nose and wipe or snuffle or blow. It was unlikely that he would be so overcome with the sneeze that he would forget about the cloth in his hand entirely, especially as he used it immediately after sneezing. So why then was he sneezing freely, uncovered like this?  There was no one near him except Legolas, no one near him who might get sneezed upon and catch his cold from him. But it was still surprising that Gimli didn’t just keep the hanky pressed to his face to sneeze into.

Legolas’ curiosity got the better of him. After giving the plants to Sam, he wandered back toward Gimli. Used to counting them, the elf was well aware of where everyone else was. Gandalf was resting his legs by sitting against a tree with his legs stretched out in front of him and his eyes closed. Merry and Pippin were “helping” Sam by sampling a few pieces of the veggies Sam had in his bag and was now trying to cut up for the stew. Frodo was sitting nearby, watching them with a smile on his face. Aragorn and Boromir were still off getting wood and meat respectfully. So no one noticed or thought anything of it when Legolas took a seat on the ground quite close to Gimli. He was so close, in fact, that he might reach over and touch the dwarf. He longed to feel the dampness of that hanky and, even more, touch the dwarf’s red-tinted, cold-filled nose. He didn’t understand his desires, but he could not deny them to himself.

hahhhh! Hehttt! Nnngh! HEHhhh! Nngg! Heh HEH HEHHHHH HERKSHOOO! Sniff! Oh…” He raised the handkerchief to his nose and gave another resounding, wet blow.

After waiting for him to be done, Legolas couldn’t stand not knowing any longer. “Gimli?” Legolas asked, trying to sound casual. “If you have a handkerchief at your disposal, why do you not use it all the time?”

Gimli bristled and replied curtly, “You would’t udderstand.”

Legolas tried for a neutral expression, which was all too normal for any elf. But his insides were squirming and hot. He wanted to hear Gimli’s explanation, wanted to hear Gimli talk all about his cold in that stuffed-up way of speaking he had, wanted to learn everything there was to know about this heavy, dwarven cold inside Gimli’s nose. “No?” he prompted.

“You’ve dever had a cold, have you?”

Legolas gave a small shake of his head.

Gimli grumbled, “Coudt yourself lucky. They cad be biserable udless you have a warb bed add ad eddless supply of hadkerchiefs for your dose. But whed you odly have a couble hadkies, you deed to use theb sparidgly, to bake theb last as lodg as you cad.” He sniffed wetly and, as if to demonstrate this very point, did not lift the hanky to his nose.

Aragorn returned with the firewood a few moments later, and Legolas did not want to risk the incredibly perceptive ranger overhearing their conversation. Legolas could not possibly explain his fascination with sneezes in general and Gimli’s cold in particular; he was certain that no one would understand. But, most importantly, he did not want the dwarf to know that Legolas was silently lusting after him every time he sneezed. So Legolas strode back over to help build the fire.

Samwise’s rabbit stew tasted delicious; the entire Fellowship thought so. Legolas had little appetite, given that his whole body was tingling. Every time Gimli sneezed or even so much as sniffled, Legolas would feel it. Little waves of pleasure rushed right through him.

hahhh hah nnggg… hahhhh!” Gimli put a finger to his nose, and Legolas felt himself go weak. He tried not to look, but he just had to watch. He could not make himself look away. “hahhhhh! HAH! HAHHHH!” Gimli’s sneezes took so long to finally arrive, Legolas couldn’t help but feel swept away by them, anticipating each bit and wondering when the sneeze would actually strike. “HAHH HARCHOOSHHH!

Legolas felt this one lower than his stomach, and he tightened his grip on his spoon and bowl. Gimli, on the other hand, snapping forward with the sneeze, loosened his grip. His bowl of stew fell to the ground, nearly every drop spilling out. Gimli swore in Khuzdul.

“Gimli!” Gandalf scolded. “I know you’re not feeling well, but such language is uncalled for.”

“Here,” Aragorn said, holding out his bowl to Gimli. “You can have the rest of mine.”

Legolas hated that he hadn’t thought to offer Gimli his. He had nearly a full bowl left, after all, and little appetite. How had Aragorn thought of helping Gimli with such a simple solution? He stared down at his bowl as he heard Gimli slurping down bites of stew between sniffles.


Legolas sat on the edge of camp, his back to his traveling companions. Needing far less sleep than any other member of the Fellowship, he stood guard for most of the night. And even though he was on guard and listening carefully to every sound of the night, he also couldn’t help but pay attention to the poor dwarf’s head cold.

Everyone else was asleep already, but Gimli was still up, curled on his side, struggling to keep his cold as quiet as possible so that the rest of the Fellowship would remain asleep. He snuffled into his sleeve and muffled every cough and sneeze beneath a handkerchief covered by his hand and buried under his bedroll. Maybe he was quiet enough so that the others did not wake, but Legolas heard everything. He longed to go over and be close to Gimli through this, but he couldn’t see how he could. The dwarf as good as hated him, barely wanted to speak to him.

What would Gimli think if he knew what Legolas was feeling inside every time he sneezed? Would he be disgusted? Would he be horrified? Would he be insulted? Would he take up his axe and fight Legolas off?

Hnnghh… Huhnngghhhh… Huhhhhh… Hah HAH HAHKTChffff!” The dwarf’s sneezes were loud to Legolas, even muffled. Frustrated by them, Gimli finally pulled himself out of his bedroll and took off into the woods.

The wave of lust Legolas was feeling was swiftly replaced by one of worry. Gimli could get lost in the forest or slip off the side of a cliff or get attacked. Legolas noticed Gimli’s axe lying forgotten beside his bed roll, and his worry increased to panic. He couldn’t leave his companions unguarded, but he couldn’t leave Gimli alone either. So he got up and made his way to Aragorn. After making certain the man’s sword wasn’t in his bedroll with him, he shook Aragorn awake. “Can you please take over watch for a little while? I need to go after the dwarf.”

Aragorn nodded sleepily, stretched, and sat up. He rose to his feet, hugging his arms around himself against the cold. Aragorn started walking the perimeter of their small encampment, circling the sleeping bodies, staying on his feet to stay awake.

Legolas went in the direction he’d seen Gimli going. He only hoped that Gimli hadn’t gone far.

It was a few minutes before Legolas realized he was going in the correct direction. “hahh HUHRCHOOO! HUHHHSHOOO!” Legolas followed the sound, glad all over again for yet another reason that Gimli had such loud, powerful sneezes.

He finally found Gimli sitting on a fallen log, hands on his thighs, sneezing unrestrainedly. “Gimli?”

Gimli glanced upward, briefly, meeting the elf’s eyes. Then his eyelids slammed shut and his body snapped forward. “Hnnnn… huhhhhhhhhh HAH-HAHKShooo!” He lifted his arm slowly and pinched his nose at the end. His nostrils struggled under his touch, fighting him, but it kept him from sneezing. He narrowed his eyes at Legolas. “What are you doidg here, elf?”

Having not worked out what he would say to Gimli once he was found, only concentrating on finding him, Legolas froze in place. What could he say? What excuse could he give? He couldn’t very well tell Gimli about his worrying… or anything else going on inside him, for that matter.

It seemed that Gimli was frozen as well, but it was a different sort of freezing. Gimli shivered violently in the cold. He coughed. And then he sneezed again. The sneeze was so powerful it forced its way out despite how Gimli was desperately pinching his nose. “Hahhh Kxxxshhuhhh!” It had sounded painful. He looked miserable. And ill. And cold. Terribly, terribly cold.

Legolas might not have a hot bowl of soup to offer this time, but he had the next best thing. Without even thinking about it, he sat down on the log beside Gimli. “You are chilled.”

“Aye.” There was a rasp in Gimli’s voice, but he still sounded guarded, suspicious.

Legolas knew this move was most likely a mistake. He knew Gimli would most likely find out about him. He knew he wouldn’t be able to keep his feelings hidden for long. But all he cared about in the moment was keeping the dwarf from freezing. “Then take my body heat. I have plenty of it to spare.”

“I dod’t deed helb frub sub boidty-eared—”

The instant Legolas put his arm around Gimli, the dwarf stopped speaking. He let out a slow, uncertain breath. Then he turned and buried himself against Legolas’ side. He rubbed his body right up against Legolas’, tucking his arms to his chest to keep them warm and letting Legolas’ long arms wrap around him to keep him pressed close. It was still a few minutes before he stopped shivering entirely. But even when he did, he seemed to have no intention of pulling out of Legolas’ warm embrace.

Legolas stroked Gimli’s back instinctively, trying to generate more heat and help warm part of the dwarf that couldn’t be right up against him the same time Gimli’s front was. He felt Gimli go heavier against him, relaxing now, growing used to the warmth and the elf’s touch.

“Legolas…” Gimli began, softly. “I fear I will sdeeze agaid shortly. I haved’t beed able to stob all dight.”

Legolas bit his lower lip and tried hard not to let himself react. He couldn’t let Gimli see it in his face or hear it in his voice.

Gimli went on, “I cad usually feel ode cobig, so I’ll bull away as sood as I do. But, just id case ode sdeaks ub od be… If we stay like this, you risk beig sdeezed od.”

Legolas could hardly contain his excitement at the statement. His skin tingled everywhere, especially where it made contact with Gimli. Now that he had a strong, sneezy dwarf in his arms, he had no intention of letting go.

“It is nothing to worry about,” Legolas told him, carefully choosing each word, knowing that even the wrong inflection could betray his passion. “I cannot catch cold, so it is no matter if you… if you happen to...” Legolas was a superb marksman with a bow and arrow, a tough fighter, and a courageous elf. Yet, he still could not force himself to say the word he needed to in the moment.

Gimli tensed in his arms. Legolas hoped more than anything that meant he was about to sneeze. But, this time, it did not. Gimli was silent and still beside him. Then Gimli began to laugh. His laugh was full, with one chuckle rolling right into the next. And he only stopped when he was forced to cough and clear his throat. “Well, this is udexbected.”

Legolas’ mouth was dry, his heart racing, his emotions on edge. He would not release the dwarf, but he did not know how he could stand the humiliation. “What is?” he whispered.

“Ad ehhhh… ad ehhhhh-hnnng! Sniff! Ad elf attracted to sdeezes. Hahhhh… Huhhh… Hah HUHTCHOO!” He sneezed, angling his head so he only just missed sneezing directly into Legolas’ side. “Add attracted to by sdeezes, at that.”

Legolas swallowed hard and tried to find his breath, though he still had no idea what the right words to use were.

Gimli snuffled and chuckled again. “I cad see it od your face… add I cad feel it.”

Legolas gave a start as the dwarf’s hand brushed gracefully across the elf’s lap and the erection barely concealed within the elf’s britches.  His breathing grew shallow as panic surged in him once more.

“Relax, elf. It is a cobbod reactiod abodg by kide.”

His head reeling, Legolas tried to make sense of what he was hearing. “Are you saying that dwarves feel this way too?”

“Aye. Bost of theb do, id fact. A great, big, wet, exblosive sdeeze is codsidered a sedsual exberiedce for both the dwarf who sdeezed as well as his lover. But I dever would have exbected ad elf to have the sabe abbreciatiod, codsideridg elves dod’t sdeeze. Though… berhabs that is bart of why you like it so buch, aye?”

“Yes,” Legolas whispered. It wasn’t the only reason he liked it, of course, but that was certainly one of many factors. He couldn’t even list all the reasons; he wasn’t sure there were words in any language of Middle Earth to explain. But the idea that most dwarves felt the same way he did was simultaneously amazing and shocking. And then a related thought occurred to him. “Gimli… does that mean you also like it? Are you to be included among ‘most dwarves?’”

Gimli turned his head, resting his cheek against Legolas’ side. He did not say anything, but he did not need to. His breath hitched as another sneeze built. “hnntt heh-nnggg… hahh ohhh hahhhhh Hahhh HAHHH-IHHHKSHOOO! Hahhh HAHSHOO! HUHTCHOO! Mmmm.

 Legolas wanted to slide his hand in turn over the dwarf’s lap, wanted to know for certain if Gimli was as aroused as Legolas was. But he did not dare. Besides, his arms were occupied with the task of keeping Gimli warm and close. Gimli shifted about, and Legolas almost lost his grip. He looked down to see that Gimli was trying to free both his hanky and his arm so that he could tend to his nose. But the movement invited the cold night air between them, and it made Gimli start to shiver again. Legolas could not have that.

“Let me tend to your nose for you?”

“Eh?” Gimli raised his head, his nose wet, his eyes watery. “What’s that?”

“You can stay warm nestled against me, and I will look after your poor nose when you…”

“Whed I sdeeze add deed to blow by ruddy dose?”

“Yes,” Legolas breathed.

Gimli chuckled. “Aye, I’d like that. But I’d have to tell you whed I deed your helb. I dod’t use a hadky every tibe I sdeeze.”

“I understand,” said Legolas, who had been thinking all afternoon of little else but that comment Gimli had made about this earlier. He had been wondering how bad it must be for Gimli to switch from no handkerchief to using a handkerchief.

“Good.” With that, he thrust a damp handkerchief into Legolas’ hand. “Because I think I hahhh feel adother sdehhhh sdeeze hahhh…. Hahhh cobig… Huhhh Hnnggg… Do batter hehh how hard I try to hahhhh hold theb back, they hehhhh just keeb cobig. Hnnggh! Hahhh! Hnnnggg Hah hah HAH HAHSHOOO!

He surely caught some of Legolas’ side with the spray, but Legolas didn’t really feel it. He was too caught up listening to the dwarf, those words and that sneeze doing such magical things to him. His ears twitched with desire, and his hand twitched, wanting so badly to use the handkerchief and help. “Should I…?”

“Doe, dot yet,” said Gimli. “I thidk I feel… hahhhh adother Hahhhh sdeeze cobig od already. Hahhhh… aye… a big… hahhh Hahhh AHShhishhh!” This one was softer but wetter, and Gimli grimaced when it was over. “Dow,” he pleaded quickly. “The hadky… I… och, that’s it…” Legolas had it pressed firmly to Gimli’s nose immediately. Gimli blew his nose, or tried to at least. The dwarf’s nose honked painfully and he coughed. “Do… hold by dose through the cloth just a little. Aye, like that. Just like that. So I cad…” He took another deep breath and blew, this time relieving himself of some of his congestion. “Dow… wibe by dose where… aye, just like that. Thank you.” Legolas wiped gently but thoroughly, trying to dry his nose off, even pushing bits of the cloth into Gimli’s nostrils and rubbing around.

When he lowered his hand, Gimli sighed deeply. “It is a shabe elves dod’t catch colds. You’re a datural at that. You have a kide touch.” He closed his eyes, burrowing against Legolas now not just for warmth but for comfort.

A kind touch. Toward a dwarf. Legolas could only imagine what his kinfolk—what his father, even—would say if they could see what Legolas was doing now. But they had no idea of the beauty of what it felt like to have a dwarf sneeze beside them, no idea of what it felt like to hold a handkerchief while a dwarf blew into it. Legolas had imagined many things related to sneezes over the years, but he had never once imagined it could be so delightful.

“Leg-huhhhhh… Legolas? I… I have to… hnngh hehhhhh…

“Sneeze,” Legolas finally managed to say, finishing the dwarf’s sentence for him in a whisper. He rubbed Gimli’s back with one hand and tightening his other around the handkerchief, in case Gimli needed his touch again afterward.

“Aye huhhhh… huhh-CHOOOHH! Sniff!” Instead of waiting for the handkerchief, Gimli wiped his nose on the side of Legolas’ tunic, which was warmer and dryer than the hanky anyway. Legolas found the touch of Gimli’s cold-filled nose against him intoxicating.

Blissfully, Legolas smiled, wishing that this night would never end and wondering where it would leave the two of them when it finally did.