Title: Recognizing is Oftentimes Tricky

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Lord of the Rings

Rating: G

Pairing: Legolas/Gimli

Disclaimer: LotR was J.R.R.Tolkien's brain child and New Line Cinema owns the movie rights. I don't own a bit, none of it's mine, I don't get any money of any kind from this, and it's all for harmless fun and entertainment.

Summary: Another in the 'Legolas and the bush' series in which Legolas continues to suffer and Aragorn doesn't escape without some sneezes as well

Feedback: If you've got some... send it my way :-)



Recognizing is Oftentimes Tricky


            "Look, I am fine!" Aragorn insisted as he stumbled down the hall. Suddenly, he grabbed hold of one of the small alcoves on the wall. He clung to it to support himself as he bent nearly in half with strong sneezes. "Arshoo! Archooo!" He lifted his head with a small sniffle and came face to face with Oliander, one of the first wardens of the Houses of Healing. It seemed to glare knowingly at him, countering his previous statement.


            "Course you are, Laddie," Gimli said, pushing the man onwards from behind. "Doing a fine bit of sneezing from the look of it."


            Aragorn let his friend push him on, knowing that it was absolutely futile to resist. They reached the Houses of Healing at last, with Aragorn protesting not to be winded and Gimli still pushing enthusiastically from behind. "If I didn't... know any... better... I'd say you wanted... an excuse to... fondle my rear... my dear dwarf."


            Looking deeply affronted, Gimli snorted. "And if I didn't know any better, I'd say you were stalling for time, hoping Legolas will come and decide you should go to dinner after all the way we'd planned."


            Aragorn shrugged. "Well... may-maybe-Hah-Harchiii! Harchooo! Arshoo!"


            "My Lord Aragorn!" exclaimed one healer, his attention drawn away from a ledge and to the sneezing king. Aragorn had doubled over with the force of the sneezes, and leaned back against the wall. He straightened and rubbed a finger alongside his nose, but he had been spotted and it was too late to say he was fine. Three healers descended upon him, checking his forehead for fever, his neck and face for swollen glands, and his throat for red soreness or white dots, as they grabbed him and led him over to a private bed chamber just off the main row of beds.


            Gimli stood by the door, grinning in amusement to see the noble, valiant, warrior king protesting so. Aragorn had never taken defeat lightly, and had glared at him just before being taken from the ward. Gimli leaned against the wall himself, waiting for Legolas to arrive and letting the healers tend to Aragorn in private.


            Legolas was along momentarily and though it was clear he had run there at a fast sprint, showed no signs of breathlessness or exhaustion. "How is he, Gimli?" Legolas asked, gripping the dwarf's shoulder with affection and letting his blond hair settle against his shoulders and back now that he had come to a halt.


            "They took him into a private room," Gimli explained. "A few moments ago the warden hurried in to see him, but that's all I know."


            Legolas looked impressed, though hardly surprised. Having a sniffling, coughing king was a situation that certainly called for the chief healer of the houses to make an appearance, however brief.


"Knowing how Aragorn can be when he's ill, I think it best we wait a little while longer before barging in to see him." Gimli's was a good suggestion.


Legolas nodded in agreement. "Even the kindest tree in the forest can be angry when awakened prematurely from sleep." Having little knowledge of such Elvish metaphors, and thinking one about a mighty tree vulnerable to leaf-eating insects might have been better, Gimli only nodded back.


The dwarf and elf picked a nearby cot and sat together upon it in waiting. Legolas wrapped his arms around Gimli from behind, leaning against him, quite relaxed. Gimli leaned back a little and closed his eyes, deciding this was as good a time as any for a rest. 


            Several women healers came out not long after and granted them entryway to Aragorn's private sickroom. It was merely a head cold, but one that might have easily been avoided had Aragorn taken more time for himself and less for his responsibilities. As it was, there were treatments available now to make him feel better and keep him from feeling worse, but he would still need a few days in bed to recover.


            As Arwen was off with the children, visiting her father, Legolas and Gimli took personal responsibility of Aragorn, and had cut his last meeting short when it seemed he was unable to withhold his sniffles and sneezes. When he had practically dozed off in the middle of one crop report, Gimli had risen from his seat and tugged at the man until he excused himself and left Legolas to apologize on his behalf.


            "ArShooo! AhhChooo! Ar-Choo!"


            "Sounds as though there's been little improvement," Legolas whispered to Gimli. The dwarf nodded, glad Legolas had not called up another metaphor this time.


The truth was that Aragorn looked as sick still as he sounded. He was tucked into a bed with a cool cloth against his forehead and a handkerchief at his nose. He looked tired, and pale, and even looked as though he had to sneeze. "My friends," he croaked, then cleared his throat so his words came out clearer. "I beg of you, tell them to leave me alone? I will not get any better with all this prodding and constant hovering."


            Though Legolas and Gimli knew the man was not disinclined to accept some comfort while sick, they also knew he had a limit. The healers left his side, with strict orders of how to care for the sick king, and promises to check back every hour on the half.


            "It's just a little head cold," Aragorn assured them, once they had the small room to themselves. "Nothing to worry... ab... ahrShuhh! HahChiih! Sniff! Nothing to worry about."


            Gimli hopped up to sit on the edge of the bed and patted Aragorn's legs through the blankets. "Aye, that's good to hear. Ah, not that we were worried, mind, but you can never quite tell with these things and I wouldn't want you leaving us so soon, just because of a few sneezes."


            Legolas pulled over a chair and sat beside the bed. "Can I offer you anything? Tissues? Water? Tea?" He sniffed at the tea. "Ah, the king gets only the best it seems, even when it's supposedly a mere head cold."


            Aragorn shrugged. "I would have my bed and wife to comfort me rather than this," he said, gesturing to the private room and his company.


            Gimli pretended to look affronted once more, but his smile could be seen through the beard easily enough. "Well, Laddie. We can leave you be and have those fine healers take another crack at smothering you if you like." He moved to get up.


            Aragorn laughed and pulled him back, restraining him and holding him down. Even as Gimli struggled and Aragorn laughed, the dwarf stayed right where he was, right by Aragorn's side, and handed him the dropped handkerchief when it looked as though the man needed badly to sneeze again. "harIhshhhh! ArShooo! Arshahhh!" Lying in bed, it was not as easy to be doubled in half by the strong sneezes, yet he still came up off the stack of pillows and body, including legs, beneath the blankets shook at the force of each sneeze. The simple effort of sneezing, and breathing through the congestion, seemed to tire him even more than the cold itself was.


            "You sound awful," Legolas noted, after listening to the congestion accompanying his every breath.


            "Thanks for being tactful there," Aragorn said, rubbing his handkerchief at his nose still.


            Legolas shrugged and smiled. "My pleasure. But you do. You also look terrible."


            "And I feel miserable," Aragorn complained, rubbing at his nose, then at his forehead, then his neck.


Legolas looked again at the things the healers had left. Upon further inspection, he noticed a small jar amongst the flowers and glasses and bottles on the table beside the bed. He picked up the jar and unscrewed the lid, inspecting the contents. "Come on then, off with your shirt. This will keep the cold from settling in your chest if nothing else." He prodded with his soft, Elvish eyes. "Come on, then."


            Gimli pulled the covers down to his waist, while Aragorn unbuttoned his shirt, eyeing Legolas suspiciously but obeying all the same. Though his friends were not armed, they could still overpower him, as tired and ill as he was, easily if the need arose.


            Legolas dipped three fingers into the jar, pulling out a large dollop of a green and beige cream. Starting from the center of Aragorn's chest and moving outward, Legolas began to rub it in. His fingers were soft, and the cream warm, making Aragorn close his eyes against the sensation and relax. It soothed his nasal passages as well, clearing them significantly so that he could practically breathe normally through his nose now. The stinging scent of the cream filled the room with mint and mentholation, and a mixture of herbs even Aragorn could not fully identify. Gimli sniffed at the air, raising his face and wiggling his nose. There was something familiar, past the mint and jasmine, that he couldn't quite recognize. Legolas seemed to think similarly, and wore a pensive expression that might have been mostly relating to the concentration with which he applied the cream.


            One of the healers poked her head in to check on them not long after, giving a nod to see the cream treatment and the way it relaxed and aided Aragorn. As she pulled her head back, a soft sneeze broke the near silence and called her attention back to the room.


            Slightly confused, Aragorn only looked stunned and nodded towards her, indicating he was all right. Gimli, too, was looking around, confused by the sudden sound. Legolas, on the other hand, was looking calm and concentrated in his task of applying the cream thickly to Aragorn's stomach. He turned his head and nodded. "All is well."


            The healer nodded and away she went again. But not a moment after, Legolas lifted his hand to his face, pressing the back of his wrist to the base of his nose and scrubbing hard with deep, wet sniffles.


            "Legolas?" asked Gimli, reaching out with a comforting hand in concern.


            Legolas' eyes met his for the moment, communicating his apprehensiveness and helplessness, then the elf pitched forward with more sneezes. "ihhhKshh! ihhTchh! ehhChh! IHKShhhh!"


            "Ah-ha!" The healer had returned, looking slightly triumphant. "I thought I heard something. Now, that's not Aragorn's sneeze, is it?" Her eyes moved from Legolas to Gimli and back again quickly, trying to reason things out. "Now, I don't think I've ever heard of an elf catching cold from a man, but I'd be a poor healer to guess that was a dwarf's sneeze." Gimli held his hands up in a 'don't look at me' sort of way and bent his head to the side, towards the elf. The healer pursed her lips and set her hands on her hips with a sigh. "Well, well, Master Legolas. Let's have a look then, shall we?" She wrestled the jar from his hand and set it aside, then pressed her hand to his forehead.


            "I am fine!" Legolas protested, giving Gimli an icy stare around the healer.


            "I tried that one," Aragorn said, buttoning up his shirt and snuggling under the covers Gimli was good enough to pull back up for him. "Doesn't seem to work around here."


            Legolas rolled his eyes. "But I really am not sick," he insisted. But his nose seemed to be telling a different story. As he tried his best to be silent, it pressed him into gasping. As he tried to be calm, it tickled maddeningly. As he tried to show them he did not need to sneeze, his nose urged him to sneeze. Legolas tried to think back to Haldir's instructions so long ago about being silent and stealthy when he had needed to sneeze as well, but they were of no help now. "Really, I simply... I..." but his breathing hitched and he could say no more. As the healer pried his mouth open and looked inside, the tickle in his nose grew worse. It was inevitable now. He either needed to sniffle, or to sneeze. One or the other, but preventing both was out of the question. Resigning himself to almost certain humiliation in front of his friends,  he took in a deep breath through his nose, nostrils flaring from the force, and sniffled.


            "Ah-ha!" said the healer again, her look of triumph much more pronounced now. Gimli grunted in concern. It sounded like any one of his many grunts, but Legolas knew better. Gimli was concerned, which was not difficult to do, considering how easily Gimli gave of his heart and emotions.


Legolas tried to look apologetic, but another tickle came upon him too quickly. He pulled back and raised his hand to his nose to rub the sensation away. However, as soon as he began rubbing, the urge to sneeze intensified, and there was nothing for it. "IIHHShuhhh! IHKtshhhh! IhhKshhh! EhhhKshhhh! ihhhKeshhhh!" He looked weakened and miserable, and as he went to rub his hand at his nose again, the healer caught it and wiped the cream off it, onto her smock, so that he did not have to worry about that. But the use of both his hands made little difference. And with a twitch of his nose, he sneezed again. "ihhhKtchhhh! ihhh-HIHShhhh! ehhhTchhh! ihhKutchhh!"


            "Legolas!" Gimli exclaimed. "What is the matter?"


            Aragorn looked equally concerned but said nothing as he had to sneeze again, himself. "Arshoo! EhhShuhh!"


            "My goodness!" exclaimed the healer, looking from Legolas to Aragorn, then to Gimli with hopes that maybe the dwarf knew what was going on. But Gimli merely shrugged. Even on the remote chance that somehow Legolas and Aragorn had both caught separate colds and came down with them at precisely the same moment, Legolas had not been looking worn down and sickly that morning or the previous day the way Aragorn had. In fact, until the first sneeze just a moment ago, he had been as normal as the pointy-eared rascal ever was. In response, the healer called back the warden, and the other healers on staff, and sent to have Ioreth brought to offer her advice as well. In the meantime, she took up a clean handkerchief and shoved it into Legolas' hand.


            As Legolas was forced to blow his nose and hold the new handkerchief to his face, the sneezes seemed to just get worse.  "ihhhChuhhh! ihhhShuhh! EhhhKshhh! ihhhChahhh! IhhhChhhh! ihhh-IHShhhh!"


            Legolas was in a perfectly awful state by the time the others arrived. "ihhShhhh! EhhhShhh! ihhhKshhh! ihhhChuhhh! ihhhChhhh!" His sneezes were continuous, and left him mere moments to breathe in between. Discarding the thoroughly used handkerchief, he cupped his hands over his nose and mouth politely, but that only hid the lower half of his countenance. His whole body pitched forward with each sneeze, his hair falling into his face, his normally calm and regal composure completely abandoned.


            It was Aragorn, snuffling into his own handkerchief, who started to laugh in recognition of the problem, but Gimli joined in not more than a few seconds later. The healers stared at the pair, and at sneezing Legolas.


            "Not a cold, surely?" the warden said, circling round to get a better look.


            "Not a ihhhChihhh! Not a cold!" Legolas managed between sneezes and sniffles.


            "Not a cold," Aragorn echoed. He reached over and pulled Legolas' hand down from his face. Both the lower half of his face and his hand, in fact as far up his arms as could be seen before the sleeves, were covered in tiny red bumps. By now, Gimli was laughing contagiously, and even Legolas, sniffling, sneezing, miserable and now itching, had to see the humor in the situation as well. He pointed at the jar on the table and Aragorn went straight for it, sniffing it to be sure it was the offender, then screwing the lid on tightly.


            "ihhhKshhhh! EhhhKshhh! IhhTchuhhh!" Legolas sneezed, trying to keep his hands away from his face and failing. As he brought them up to cover his sneezes, he kept them there to scratch at his face. Then his hands scratched each other, and all the way up his arms.


            "Oh no you don't!" Gimli said, laughing a bit still, but lunging forward and pulling Legolas' hands away. "You will just make it worse doing that." This was quite true, of course, but the itching was so bad that Legolas shot him a look of death and mumbled something about making Gimli as miserable as he felt if the dwarf continued to hold him down, and Gimli quickly let him go.


            "Legolas," Aragorn said softly, pulling the elf's blond hair back from his face so it didn't help scratch or irritate his face. "We'll make some cream for you, the sort my father made for me... hah-harCHHH! Archuhhh!" It seemed the miserableness of his cold had been forgotten and only the symptoms remained. Aragorn sneezed with efficiency, and continued without missing a beat. "Ioreth is coming and I'm sure she's got the right herbs. I remember how he made it." He pulled out a clean handkerchief and held it to Legolas' nose for him, as the elf's hands were still preoccupied with scratching. Aragorn had the hands of a healer, as much those of a warrior or a king, and Legolas looked gratefully at him in response.


            Gimli helped the sneezing Legolas out of the room, which was filled with the scent of the medicinal cream still plastered on Aragorn's chest, and to a cot quite a ways down the row of beds. Aragorn and Legolas could still hear each other sneezing, but were separated enough that Legolas' sneezing started to slow. Gimli scrubbed Legolas' face and hands, pausing in the washing every few moments to scratch carefully, eliciting pleasurable sighs from the elf. Several new handkerchiefs were brought for his use, as was a loose-fitting change of clothes as his own might have been touched with cream somewhere in the process of application.


            Though sick and sneezey himself, Aragorn set to work with Ioreth upon her arrival and together they managed a fair imitation of Aragorn's foster father's remedy. It soothed the itching almost instantly, much to everyone's relief, but the sneezing was still upon him, though it had indeed slowed.


            After opening the east-facing windows to help clear the air in the ward, Gimli, who had changed as well just in case, sat beside him and offered as much in the way of moral support as handkerchiefs. "All that strong mint and the other sweet herbs were masking the soft scent of that bush," he said, finally. I didn't recognize what was in that until long after you began sneezing."


            Legolas nodded. "I was worse. I did recognize something, and felt some... ihhhhShhh! ihhhKshhh! Sniff! Some sort of reason to hesitate, but I did not do so. I suppose my desire to help Aragorn overpowered... it... heh-IHHShhh! ihhKshhh! Sniff!"


            "I expect you've never been able to smell it too clearly anyway, what with it stuffing your nose up so quickly. So I shall take the blame myself, if you do not mind, Elf."


            Sure that it was in-between sneezes, Legolas leaned over and plated a kiss gently on Gimli's lips. "It is not yours to take, but I will let you for no other reason than I am not in any position to argue." Which was, in their estimation, a first. Gimli grinned. With a deep sigh, Legolas set to thinking. "Now I cannot so much as visit Aragorn as he recovers. The whole room... and he smell like... like... like the..." His hand tightened on the handkerchief as he exploded into it again. "ihhhKShhhh! ehhhChuhh! ihhChhh! ehhChhh! ihhKtchhhh! ehhKshhh!"


            Nodding, Gimli patted his shoulder lightly so as not to start it itching again. "He'll be well soon enough. And though we might insist, you know he'll never agree to that treatment again." Legolas nodded. It had helped clear the man's sinuses, but knowing Aragorn they would not be at all surprised if the cream were banned from use in the halls of healing for whoever might come across Legolas. "And look on the bright side, you're closer to him. Just a yell away if he needs you, and yet not hovering."


            Grinning, Legolas had to agree. He blew his nose and rubbed more at it. With any luck, they three would be dining together tonight just as planned, and it would be as sneeze-less a dinner as it was possible to have in the Houses of Healing when one member of the party has a head cold.