Title: Birthday Ficlet for Lady Korana

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Lord of the Rings

Rating: PG

Pairing: Legolas/Gimli

Disclaimer: Not my characters or my world. I'm just playing with them.

Summary: Despite his concern, Gimli goes along with elven “tradition.”

Notes: Written as a thank you and happy birthday ficlet for Lady Korana. *hugs*



Birthday Ficlet for Lady Korana


            The elf was not ill.


            Legolas shook with strong, moist coughs. They cause him to lean forward and then hunch over. One hand slipped slowly away from the handle of his mug and joined his other hand at his mouth, cupping both there. “Coughcoughcoughcough-coughCoughcoughcough!” They came in a seemingly endless series. His eyes were closed. His brow was abnormally furrowed. His body was practically giving spasms for each and every cough.


            The elf was not ill. Yet.


            Just as the bout of coughing passed, Legolas took up the handkerchief he'd relieved Gimli of earlier that morning, before breakfast. Legolas' face, usually so calm and stoic, drooped ever so slightly. The corners of his mouth twitched as his lips parted slightly, and lines formed on his forehead as he closed his eyes. When the very tips of his ears began to wiggle, he lifted the handkerchief to his face. The gasping breaths inward were silent and short but strong. With each, his face showed more and more need, until a hint of a fully-formed frown appeared. Just as he was about to pitch forward with a sneeze, Legolas forced a blow of his nose into the hanky. His ears twitched for the entire duration of it, then he quickly returned to normal and lowered the cloth.


            The elf could not yet be ill, for he had not yet sneezed.


            If it could be believed, Gimli thought it was among the strangest things he had ever heard, but really just about all of elven culture seemed strange to him in one way or another. According to Legolas, an elf could not actually be declared ill until he sneezed his first sneeze. Until then, all the coughing and misery in Middle Earth did not matter and would go unmentioned. It seemed a strange arrangement, but Gimli was inclined to trust Legolas on such matters for, of the two of them, Legolas was more knowledgeable in all things elvish. However, there were moments as Legolas fought back the incredibly intense urge to sneeze when Gimli's sensibilities told him the elf was making it all up simply to avoid being put to bed.


            “Would you pass the butter to meh… ehhh…” Legolas seemed uncertain for a moment, sitting at the breakfast table with his head slightly cocked and his ears slightly twitching. Then he reached up and rubbed one long finger back and forth against the tip of his nose. His eyes closed and the rubbing became more vigorous. Then he relaxed once again. “Cough! Excuse me. Would you please pass the butter?” Gimli managed to do so without rolling his eyes.


            After breakfast, the two saw little of each other. Gimli worked down in the basement, sweating and toiling over his anvil. He was relieved when Legolas showed up with a glass of chilled water for him, and he set down his hammer to take a break. He gulped down half of the water in one go. “Thank you.” The other half went down more slowly as he watched Legolas with a discriminating eye.


            The elf seemed to be having a more difficult time managing himself. He had the handkerchief up and pinched his nose through it. But his breath came in short gasps and his eyes were closed more than open. His ears twitched, and Gimli could only imagine the way his nostrils were doing likewise beneath the folds of the hanky.


            Gimli wanted very much for Legolas to give up the fight. The things unspoken between them were beginning to feel heavy and important. Most of all, he wanted to be able to bless Legolas and then sweep him away to bed for pettings and snuggles and the sort of caring he usually only cared to show when he was alone with Legolas.


            But the fact was that the elf was not yet ill, and would not be for some time, considering his considerable fighting skills. A warrior of Legolas' stature did not surrender so easily, especially not to such a pesky little thing as a tickle in one's nose. “I will be… making lunch soon,” Legolas said, his voice muffled by the handkerchief. “Would you like anything ihhh-in particular?”


            Apart from the sound of a juicy and inevitable elf-sneeze, Gimli could think of nothing he wanted. “Whatever you make is fine by me,” he said. “I was thinking of making some stew tonight for dinner.” Legolas nodded in agreement, but did not speak. He could not speak. He stood, pinching his nose. His breath hitched and his eyes were closed, brow slightly furrowed. Then he relaxed and sniffled wetly. Then he lowered the handkerchief, gave Gimli a soft smile, and left the dwarf to his work.


            Lunch was a much more difficult affair. Hungrily, Gimli devoured the drumstick and potatoes set before him, polishing off every other bite with a swig of ale. He kept his eyes trained on Legolas, who barely touched his own helping of potatoes.


            “eh-ih-ngg-eh-heh-HIH!” A pause, pregnant, then Legolas exhaled with relief. His whole body relaxed and he opened his eyes. Then he shut them a moment later, another build-up beginning. “ihh-yihhh-ehhh-kehhh-Eh!” Legolas froze, then sighed again. The scene repeated itself over and over and over again. It seemed he spent more time just about to sneeze than he did in a normal state.


            Gimli lifted his head, watching curiously to see which- if any- would be the sneeze to finally show itself in full.


            “ihh-ehh-ehkk-hehpt-eh-EH-EHH!” Nothing. “ihhh-kihh-eh-ngh-ehn-ihh-IH!” No sneeze. “ihhh… yih-yihh-ihh-Eh! Heh! HIH! IHYIHH!” A longer pause this time, but still no sneeze. And Gimli was supposed to be pretending he was not seeing or hearing any of this, when he was actually just losing patience.


            Pinching his nose, Legolas leaned forward and topped off Gimli's goblet. Their eyes met and Gimli refrained from asking how he was or from giving him a sympathetic look, because the elf was not ill yet. Instead, Gimli cleared his throat. “I had a productive morning.” Legolas nodded encouragingly. Then, as an almost non sequitur, “Aragorn tells me that a soak in a hot spring is good for aches.” Legolas froze, looking at him with understanding.


            Then Legolas lifted a hand back to his nose, pressing two fingers beneath his nostrils. “ihh… ihhh… hih-ehh… Ih-Yihh-Ngk-IH!” Again, no sneeze. Gimli sighed to himself and made significant progress on the rest of his ale.


            After lunch, the two decided to clean the house. Legolas did far more coughing and sniffling than cleaning. There was also an embarrassing moment when Legolas accidentally used the handkerchief as a dust rag and then needed to blow his nose. It was running because of dust, according to Legolas. Fortunately, Gimli had another handkerchief in his pocket, anticipating the illness that had not yet officially struck. After a few hours, Gimli finished the cleaning along and Legolas, hand to his forehead, went to take a soak in the hot spring just outside their house.


            Legolas returned while Gimli was starting the stew. The elf settled on the couch, staring at the empty fireplace and coughing. Gimli brought him water, just as Legolas had done earlier. Gimli sat down beside his elf and patted Legolas' back. The coughs subsided quickly.


            Legolas was a contradiction in Gimli's arms. He leaned into the dwarf, seeming miserable, but he wore his usual calm expression, as though nothing were wrong. Strong-willed, Legolas might easily have made it through dinner and perhaps the rest of the day without sneezing. However, Legolas was snuggled against Gimli, warm and comfortable. So when he felt another urge to sneeze, all he did was turn his head.


            “ihh-nhh-her-YihhhKShchooo!” Legolas sneezed into Gimli's shoulder, his body shaking with the force.


            Gimli stroked Legolas' head, relief washing over him. “Goodness,” he murmured. “Galu, Legolas. Are you ill?”


            Nuzzling his face into Gimli's shoulder and neck, Legolas nodded. His body tensed up again, chest rising, ears twitching. “ehhh-IHHshew!


            “Aye,” Gimli answered his own question. “Aye, you are ill.” He hugged Legolas to him. There was an axe down in his workroom which was only half formed. There were vegetables spread out on the counter and a pot sitting empty and ready beside them. The world stopped now, however. Everything else could wait.


            The elf was ill.