Title: The Uncontrollable
Fandom: Lord of the Rings, post-RotK
Disclaimer: Tolkien came up with the characters and the world. They're not mine. I get no money. I'm just a poor, lowly fan.
Summary: Gimli's awake during one dark and stormy night while visiting Legolas in the woods of Ithilien
Notes: Written for the bunny hatched on week 34
It was a well known fact that dwarves did not much like trees. Trees were alive, growing, moving, changing. Rocks could change, too, just not without intervention and not quite as quickly. With trees there was absolutely no control over the change, and that was off-putting. If given the choice between trees and rocks, Gimli certainly would have chosen the latter every time. But it wasn't that he disliked trees at the moment so much as disliked being up in trees.
Legolas' residence was up in what had to be the tallest tree in the whole wood. He had not measured, but he could not imagine a taller tree existing. He had not wanted to show his uncertainty and hesitation to the elf as he climbed up. Once inside the room, nestled among the branches of the tree, he had tried to avoid looking out of the windows and avoid thinking about how many feet off the ground they were. Now that Legolas was asleep, he did not have to put on pretenses at all. He could openly show his discomfort at being in a large wooden room at the top of an impossibly tall tree.
In all probability it would not have been so bad had he been able to sleep. But the night was dark and stormy and if the bright flashes of lightning had not woken him, surely the gigantic claps of thunder would have. In caves, beneath the ground, there was no rain, no storms, no lightning or thunder. The thunder had started as a low, steady rumble but now was so halting and sudden and loud that it seemed to fill his head and chest entirely. At first, the lightning had come seconds before the thunder, giving him warning. But now the two were simultaneous and he was uneasy, unable to predict when they would strike.
He sat on the edge of the bed, the furthest he could get from the wall while still sitting on the bed. His legs were bent in front of him and his arms were wrapped around them, hugging them to his chest. He rocked back and forth anxiously, burying his face in his knees. He braced himself for the flashes and booms, but his teeth still chattered from nerves and the fact that it was terribly cold in the room in just his nightshirt. Any moment now he expected the lightning to hit the room, or the tree, or both. Or for the thunder to crash so loudly that it not only made the room vibrate but split the room apart board-by-board.
He lifted his head momentarily, seeing the shadows and streaks of light from lightning dancing strangely on the walls. There were no lights on in the room. He might have preferred light to sitting in darkness, but he was worried the room would shake and a candle or a lamp would knock over and catch the place on fire. And if there was one place he wanted to be in less than a tall tree in the middle of a storm was a tall tree on fire. Gimli closed his eyes and hugged his legs closer to his chest with a shiver.
Even without the lightning and thunder, it was still noisy and slightly frightening to be at the top of a tree during a storm. He was sure matters had been taken to secure the dwelling to the tree... but he could feel it swaying slightly in the strong winds. The branches of the tree scraped and crashed erratically against the outside of the walls. The wind and rain pounded relentlessly against the shutters.
During one particularly loud clap of thunder, the storm succeeded in breaking in through one of the windows. The shutters were thrown open and slammed against the walls. He looked up to see the branches and leaves as large as his hand lit up in white from the lightning. Then they went back to a dark yellows and reds. Strange, irregular shapes that shook and rustled, disappearing and appearing again out of the darkness that was the tree beyond the room. Even if he closed the window, it would not make the storm leave. Gimli had no power to make that happen. Gimli shut his eyes tightly and rocked faster. He wanted to close the window but did not want to move, and certainly did not want to get close to the windows. Normally the height made him nervous, but the height and the storm together was too much to face.
If he had
his way, he would climb down right now and sleep on the ground. In fact, if it
had been up to him, he would be curled up beneath his blankets in his
bedchamber deep inside the
Behind him in bed, Legolas stirred. He looked up, eyes focusing on Gimli's back. "Gim... li?" he called, yawning in the middle. He propped himself up with an elbow as Gimli looked over his shoulder at him. "Are you all right?"
Gimli lowered his legs to sit normally and turned to the side. He nodded. "Yes. Fine."
Legolas studied his face, not believing for a moment that Gimli was fine. "So what's wrog?" His voice was deep. His nose was stuffy.
Gimli shook his head. "Nothing's wrong," he insisted.
Before Gimli could tell him to go to sleep, Legolas asked, "Is it by cold? Was I sdorig?" Legolas made a face at his stuffy voice and reached for his hanky. He blew his nose hard into it, clearing it a little bit. "That's it, isn't it?"
Gimli couldn't resist smiling at the absurdity of Legolas' presumption. "No, that's not it," he said, shaking his head. Even though Legolas had been snoring, the storm was far louder.
"Ah," Legolas said, sitting up. "So there is something wrong." He looked concerned. But before he could inquire, he cupped his hand to his nose and mouth. He closed his eyes expectantly and waited several seconds. "NNKshhhhh! Kuhshh! Sniff! Excuse be, ugh, there it is agaid." He cupped the handkerchief around his nose and blew. As he did so, his body shook with a shiver.
Gimli crawled back over, tugging the blankets up over the elf's front. "It is no bother. I can still understand you."
The room lit up brightly with another crack of lightning. The light came through the open window, along with wind and rain. Gimli gave a start in surprise, but jumped at the crash of thunder moments later. His hands gripped the blanket tightly, not wanting to show Legolas how they shook. But the wind rushing in through the open window was terribly chilly and strong, and the storm pounded away on the window on the opposite wall. When its shutters gave way, slamming back against the walls, Gimli jumped again, completely unable to hide it.
"Ah," Legolas said, understanding. He slipped past Gimli in bed and walked across the room. Legolas was bright white in the darkness of the room. Bare feet, white night shirt laced with silver designs, long blond hair reaching down his back. Easily, he strode to the windows to close the shutters and lock the latches to secure them. Even with the wind and rain attacking him, he stood fast against it. Or perhaps with it. His hair and nightshirt were blown around madly, but he did not hold either in place. And when he returned to bed, colder and wetter than when he'd left it, he seemed to feel no worse for the wear. "Better?" Legolas asked, gracefully sliding back beneath the covers.
Gimli nodded stiffly and tried to answer casually, not showing his great relief. "I suppose so." Another crash of thunder caught him off guard and he jumped at it. Legolas regarded him suspiciously. "Is there anything I can do for you since I'm awake?" That's what he was supposed to be doing there, after all: taking care of Legolas.
As Legolas refused to have any of the other elves look after him for fear they'd catch his cold and as there was no risk of that where Gimli was concerned, he was really the only one who could. And he was glad he'd been sent for the previous day, when Legolas had first felt his cold coming on. From the moment he had set foot in the woods, he had been determined to take care of Legolas as best he could. "Can I get you water? Another handkerchief perhaps?"
Legolas shrugged and turned onto his side with one arm bent so part was beneath his head. "I could use some warming up." He pulled the blankets back and Gimli crawled under them. Legolas snuggled into Gimli's side, nuzzling into the dwarf's thick hair and beard and draping his arm over Gimli's middle. "Dever dowd you to be so shaked up by a storb," Legolas murmured.
Even during battles when it rained, he had not shown this level of nervousness. Gimli was a dwarf always on his guard, always in control. It took much to lower him from such a position. But neither did it take much to return him to it. "hh'KShhhh! EN-KShhhhh! heh-Kshoo! Sniff!"
Completely ignoring his now-wet beard, Gimli recovered and pressed the handkerchief to Legolas' nose. "There now," he said with a surprisingly soothing tone for someone with so deep and rich a voice. He rubbed at Legolas' nose, wishing he could do more to help. But taking away Legolas' cold completely was beyond his control. "Any better?"
Legolas nodded and sniffled, rubbing his nose into the handkerchief still in Gimli's hand. Then he shivered and snuggled into Gimli again for warmth. Even though Gimli had not been under the covers for a good part of the night thus far, somehow he was quite warm now beneath them. Perhaps it was because of the extra layers of blankets on the bed. Gimli slid an arm beneath Legolas' neck and wrapped it around as much of Legolas' shoulders as he could manage, then drew the elf even closer.
When the lightning and thunder hit the next time, they were seconds apart. Gimli knew this was a good sign, as it meant the storm was starting to move away from them now. But he was startled by the noise, nonetheless. The wind was howling fiercely outside, with only a single layer of wood between it and them. Gimli shivered at the thought and Legolas squeezed him tightly. "Cad't hurt us here," he reassured Gimli.
Gimli was quite sure that it could, but nodded and accepted the hug anyway. He did not need the elf worrying about him. He had seen Legolas worried about him a few times before, and did not want to relive the experience. When sick, Legolas could be a little clingy because of things he needed. But when worried, he was ten times that, following Gimli everywhere and hugging the dwarf at the most inappropriate times. Not that Gimli much minded any of that, but worrying was not at all healthy. At least, not for a sick elf. "Are you certain I cannot get anything more for you?"
Sniffling, Legolas shook his head. "Just hold me?" He rolled over onto his other side and curled partly. Gimli turned onto his side as well. He stuffed the handkerchief into Legolas' hand and then wrapped an arm around him. He scooted as close as he could, pressing his body against Legolas' back and squeezing tightly.
Legolas tensed up beneath him and shuddered. "Gib..." he spoke into the darkness.
Gimli tightened his hold on Legolas. "It is all right."
The elf's voice was breathy from an oncoming sneeze. "I... hhh... I very buch dislike beig sick..."
"I know," Gimli soothed. He very much disliked seeing Legolas sick. But at least he was able to offer his care to improve the situation. Though when it came down to it, they would just have to wait it out and let it pass. Much like the storm.
"hh'KFShhhhh!" Legolas shook with the sneeze. "kehShhhh! Shuhhhh!" Legolas shivered and blew his nose. Gimli hugged him tightly, barely jumping at the clap of thunder that shook the room and the tree. Even the howling wind was partly drowned out by his concern. "Sorry."
Shaking his head, "Hush. I did not come all this way over here to hear you apologize. I came because you were ill and needed me." There was absolutely no other reason he would have been up so high in a tree in the middle the night during a raging storm.
Legolas sniffled again and nodded. "Cad we just try to go back to sleeb thed? I'd like to hear your sdores."
Gimli smiled. "And I would like to hear your snores as well." He kissed the spot right behind Legolas' ear. "Sleep well. And when you wake, perhaps you will feel better." Cringing as the thunder boomed loudly in the distance, Gimli buried his face in the elf's soft hair and pulled the blankets up further. He knew it was silly to think the storm could reach him there, but that didn't make him feel much better about the whole situation. He felt safer beneath the covers taking care of Legolas, though, and considerably warmer at that. And, as he could do nothing at all about the storm anyway, he settled in to wait it out. In no time he had fallen asleep.
Gimli woke the next morning to the sound of birds. He considered burrowing beneath a pillow to drown out the sound when he felt a lack of heat against his front. He opened his eyes to find nothing between him and the wall but blankets. Silently he turned over onto his other side to see Legolas standing by an open window.
While the elf had looked stunning the night before, caught in the wind and rain, he looked even more magnificent this morning with the sunlight streaming down upon him. The crisp morning stung Gimli's face, making him want to remain in bed all day. And though the elf must surely be cold, he did not show it. Though his nightshirt was still white and his hair still light blonde, Legolas seemed to be glowing in the sun. He no longer looked pale or sickly.
Gimli rose and walked over, bringing a blanket along. He raised himself up on his toes to properly drape the blanket over Legolas' shoulders. Legolas took it and pulled it closed at his front. Then he leaned into Gimli who stood beside him. "It has passed," he said softly, looking out into the morning. Gimli knew he was not simply talking about the storm.
The sun caught the droplets left on the leaves and made them shine. And when Legolas reached out of the window to the closest branch to touch a leaf that was both golden and auburn, Gimli felt something within him stir. Not because he was so close to the window, which he did not seem to mind so much at the moment, but because it was beautiful and reminded him of something that always made him smile. He hugged Legolas, suddenly glad for the changes that had occurred overnight.