Title: Suffering is Temporary
Prompt: It's a bit embarrassing to be the only Elf with allergies. Luckily, the elf's significant other finds it more than a little endearing.
Suffering is Temporary
“ehhhIKSHH! EhhKIHShhh!” Legolas hastened to cup one of his hands over his nose and mouth as Gimli led him down a pathway by his other hand. Legolas stumbled along behind his dwarf, sneezing too much to pay any attention to where they were going. “ehhh hnnn ehhhhh-IHChhhhh!”
“Galu,” Gimli muttered, pulling Legolas around a corner and then down a narrow flight of wooden stairs.
“IHHHTchhhh! IhTishhhh! Ihhh ihhh KIHSchhh!” They squeezed to the right side of the stairs so that two elves on their way up could pass on the left side. The elves stopped halfway up, however, and stared at Legolas as if they had never seen an elf sneeze before.
And, in fact, they probably had not.
Legolas felt the embarrassment rise up inside him, and he wanted to hide himself away in some distant corner of Lórien until this sneezing passed. But all he could do was follow behind his dwarf.
It had been some years since he had encountered one of the bushes with lovely pink flowers that triggered Legolas' allergies. Over the years, he had become better and better at recognizing it and at checking what items were made of before touching them. He had had a few near misses, but on the whole he had managed to deftly avoid the bush entirely. He was immensely proud of himself for that.
Or, at least, he had been vigilant until today. Gimli and Legolas had traveled to Lothlórien for the spring festival. Though it was perpetually spring in Lothlórien, the passage of winter to spring was taking place outside their realm, and that was cause for their highest annual celebration within. It was a time of renewals and reassurance, of fine foods and dancing. It was, apparently, also a time for little elflings to make wreaths of leaves and place them on respected visitors' heads to show appreciation. The pink flowers were only buds and the normally rich green of the leaves were only a young, bright green. Legolas hadn't noticed until he had four wreaths stacked on his head and one around his neck. He hadn't noticed until it was too late. He hadn't noticed until he'd started sneezing uncontrollably.
“hehhh-IHSchhh! Hetchhhh! Hnn hehh Nngg hehh-IHShhhh! Kehshh! EhhKtchhh! Hhh hnnn EHSchhhhh! Sniff! HEHTChhhhh!”
And then all the elves at the celebration had noticed him. The music had stopped. The dancing had stopped. The chatting and singing and merriment had stopped. Every elf there had turned to watch curiously as Legolas had sneezed and as Gimli had panicked for just a moment before leaping into action.
Gimli had thrown off the wreaths on his head first, then had shoved away the ones decorating his elf. Then he had pulled his handkerchief out and tried to wipe Legolas' twitching, streaming nose. But Legolas, in his desperation to rid himself of the irritating tickle, had sneezed in his face then grabbed the handkerchief himself to hide his nose and face in it as best he could. He had apologized profusely between sneezes and had scratched at his reddening neck even as Gimli had taken him by the elbow and had led him away from the celebration with orders to not scratch or it would only get worse.
“ihhhTchhhh! IhhhhhTCHHH!” Even his sneezes reminded him of how itchy he felt on top of feeling sneezy, as if he needed the reminder. “hh-Hihtchhhhhh!” He wasn't sure where Gimli was leading him, but he very much hoped it was to a tub where he might bathe and rid himself of the irritation.
Therefore, Legolas was disappointed, though not entirely surprised, when Gimli led him straight to the kitchens.
One of the kitchen attendants tried to stop them from entering. “Sir Dwarf, you cannot—”
“Out of my way,” Gimli snapped, motioning for the elf to step aside at once. He was like a stone rolling down a steep mountain and would not be stopped. “I've got an elf to take care of.”
“We can make you whatever you desire,” the attendant offered.
“I wish you could, laddie, but—”
Gimli was interrupted by Legolas sneezing. “ihh-Kschhh! IhhHihtchh! Ehhkshhhh! Hehshhhhh!” Gimli rubbed Legolas' back and murmured something soothing in the dwarvish tongue that made the corners of Legolas' mouth turn up in just the faintest of smiles even as Legolas massaged his itching, tickling nose with the handkerchief.
The attendant, on the other hand, stared unblinkingly at Legolas, stunned to see the majestic elf snapping forward with each irrepressible sneeze and rearing back with a sharp breath for the next. He did not speak and did not move as Gimli pushed passed him, with Legolas still in tow, to head toward the bottles of herbs in a rack on the far wall of the kitchen. The dwarf parked Legolas there and then began to make his way through the bottles, pulling each out one at a time to glance at the labels. He gave a pleased grunt at the sight of one and set it on the countertop while he went through the rest. The rest of the kitchen staff moved back to give them space but kept watching.
“hehh-IHHTchhhh! Gibli...” Legolas started, uncertainly. He rubbed his hand up and down his upper arm and then wrapped both hands around his chest, hugging himself. Though it gave him little comfort, it did keep him from scratching. No matter what he did with his hands, he was still exposed and being watched and being laughed at. His nose might be stuffed-up, but his ears worked just fine, and he could hear their light, elven sniggers and twitterings from across the room. “Hurry, blease?” was all that Legolas could think to ask.
“Aye, I'm working as fast as I can here.” Aragorn had taught Gimli how to make some herbal tea that would quiet the sneezes, but it did take some time to brew properly. “You'll have yer cure as soon as it's ready. I know you want to stop sneezing.”
“I do.” Then he glanced around. There were a few elves huddled in one corner, laughing and pointing. Some of the kitchen staff kept glancing over, looking amused. And more than a dozen other elves who had followed from the celebration hovered in the doorway, watching the dramatic effects of Legolas' allergy attack.
“ihhh ehhh-KTchhhh! Kihshhh! Hihhh-Gib-hehhhh-li-ihhh-IHHShhhh!”
Gimli paused and turned, adding his own pair of eyes to the crowd gazing at Legolas. Then he reached out and pulled his elf close. “Bury yourself against me,” he murmured. He'd been wearing the wreath as well, and Legolas nuzzling into his hair was likely an awful idea. But the elf was already sneezing his head off, so it wasn't as though he could get much worse. “Hide yourself until this is ready.”
At first, Legolas doubted this would help at all. But he felt another fierce tickle in his nose, and he felt so many elves watching and laughing as he acted so completely unelvish, that he decided he truly had nothing to lose. He dropped to his knees and buried his face in Gimli's tunic. Gimli lifted his arm, and Legolas nuzzled into Gimli's armpit. His nose was far too stuffed for him to be able to smell his dwarf's scent, which would have gone far toward comforting him. But the arm that Gimli wrapped around his shoulders helped significantly. Legolas closed his eyes and clung to Gimli.
“hhhh-Uffffff! H'umff!” His sneezes were soft and muffled, and his contorting, itching face hidden from view as he sneezed relief filled him immediately, and he held on tighter, his hands squeezing fistfuls of Gimli's tunic. “huhh... hhh-Chfff! Hmffff!”
Gimli hummed as he worked, partly to mask the sound of Legolas' almost constant sniffles and partly because it helped him keep track of where he was in brewing. As soon as the water in the kettle hanging over the fire whistled that it was hot enough, Gimli used his free hand to add the herbs in their carefully measured amounts.
He rubbed his hand back and forth across Legolas' back and shoulderblades, whispering little reassurances every so often like “Almost ready” and “Not long now” and “Aye, that's it. Sneeze it out.”
“ihhh.. ihhFfff! Hihffff! Hexffff”
“Galu. Just a few more minutes.”
Immortal though he might be, to a sneezing elf, that length of time seemed an eternity. “ehh-Huchffff! Shufffff! Hshhffff! Hn... hnnnnn! h'Ikshffff!”
And then 'just a few more minutes' became 'now.'
Gimli poured the tea one-handed, blew on the surface to cool it a little, and then patted Legolas on the back. “All right. Lift your head and take a few sips for me. Be careful as it's still a little hot.”
In all his years, Legolas had never burned his tongue, so he disobeyed and gulped down the tea all at once.
The result was hardly instantaneous, but the first thing to back off was the intense urge to scratch his head and neck, all the places the leaves and buds had been. The relief in shaking off that itch made him sigh. His shoulders sagged as he leaned back into Gimli.
Gimli waited, making sure it was just the one this time before blessing his elf. The fact that it was only one this time was an excellent sign that the herbs were starting to do their work.
Gimli absolutely hated seeing Legolas suffering miserably from allergies. And he knew Legolas was terribly embarrassed to have had this violent allergic reaction in front of so many of his kin. But being able to take care of his elf and hold him close like this was exhilarating. He put his arm back around Legolas, letting his elf know that they could stay here like this as long as he needed. Gimli would always fight for him; there was never any question of that. But he would also comfort and care and protect if the situation called for that instead. He didn't mind that his tunic was wet from sneezes. He didn't mind that half of Lothlórien was watching.
Let them watch. Let them be jealous. Let them wish they had a dwarf of their own to look after them.