Title: Gimli, Son of Several

Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Lord of the Rings

Rating: PG-13?
Disclaimer: No money made, no offense intended, no relation to any companies.
Summary: Gimli tells Legolas about his childhood.
Author Notes: Masking and I were throwing around theories about dwarves’ sexuality, and how they might be bisexual given the scarcity of dwarf women (and their physical appearance so closely resembling dwarf men). And I put out the theory that maybe because there are so few dwarf women, large family units came about with multiple men and one woman and they’re all one big happy dwarf family where the men take comfort in each other as well. And then suddenly I was writing this fic. So, yeah. I give you: polyamorous dwarves.

Gimli, Son of Several


Legolas and Gimli sat side-by-side on the front step of their porch, staring out at the leaves rusting in the cool autumn winds. “What is that sound?” Gimli asked, turning his head but seeing nothing. No forest animals, no birds, and certainly no visitors. They did not receive many of those at home.


“Mm, what sound?” Legolas asked, sliding an arm around Gimli.


“That…” Gimli listened more closely. “That snapping sound.” Surely the elf could hear it. The elf could hear everything. “There it is again.”


Legolas’ laugh was light, magical. He snuggled closer to Gimli’s side. “Those are acorns dropping.”


Gimli listened, astounded. There was one snap, then another, more of a crack that time. “Acorns? So many of them?”


“The forest is filled with many trees. Gimli, have you never just sat and listened to the sounds of the forest before?”


Gimli grunted. Rather than replying that there were about a million things he was more likely to do, rather than mentioning the fact that dwarves did not typically sit around in forests just listening, he said, softly, “I have never had a reason to before.” He lifted his arm and held his hand to Legolas’ back, rubbing. The elf purred. Gimli took it as a sign to keep rubbing.


“When I was a young elfling and autumn came upon the forest, I would climb into the tallest tree I could find. I would sit for hours just listening, learning how the trees moved, how the forest came alive as it changed. I would dream of the day when I would know it all, every branch in the wood, every notch and hole, every bird and animal… I never imagined this, sharing it with a dwarf.” He squeezed his arm tighter around Gimli and placed a kiss on the dwarf’s temple. “When you were young, did you ever picture yourself in a relationship like this?”


“Oh, aye.”



Gimli chuckled. “Well, not with an elf. And not with just an elf.”


Curious, Legolas kissed his temple again. “Do tell…”


“Well, dwarflings do not have many siblings, but we do have many fathers. There are few dwarf women, you know, and it’s difficult to have children. So it’s usual to have large families where the dwarves all care for each other. They bond together for companionship and share the duties, including having children. The men will love each other as much as they do the dwarf woman, there’s little different in appearance between the two, as you know. Same for all you elves, eh? ”


Legolas pulled away just a little. “I beg your par—“


“Elfmen and elfmaids… the beauty of you people knows no equal.” He grinned up at Legolas. “Though there is one I’m particularly fond of.”


“Well saved,” Legolas said, craning his neck and placing a kiss on Gimli’s lips. Then his words came more softly, whispers upon Gimli’s skin. “And well said.” Then there was more kissing of the sort that felt like it could last to the end of time itself. Slow, cherished kisses simply for kissing’s sake, not to rush and become anything more.


They broke away when there was another loud crack just off to their left and Gimli jumped in surprise.


“Just an acorn,” Legolas said, the smile filling his voice and eyes.


“Aye,” Gimli agreed, though suspiciously glancing out at the forest just the same.  “Hard to relax with all that… noise…” Gimli waved his hand toward the woods.


“Ohh,” Legolas laughed. “Because dwarf caves are always so quiet?”


“They are!” Gimli insisted, though even he sounded as though he barely believed it. “Well… they can be.”


“Dwarves are the rowdiest bunch of—“


Gimli shook his head, interrupting. “That’s only because you’ve only ever visited when we’re celebrating.”


“That is because…” Legolas poked him. “Dwarves are always celebrating. You would celebrate anything—the sun rising in the morning, the fires being lit, the finding of a lost teaspoon.”


Gimli paused, considering whether or not this was an insult. Then he decided to laugh heartily. Legolas rewarded him with another kiss.


They sat in silence for a while, apart from the acorns which continued to fall. And, surprisingly, it was Legolas who spoke first. "Gimli, what you were saying before, about your family? You had... how many fathers?"


"Six altogether."


"Six? Your mother had six husbands?"


Gimli looked confused about this. He started to reply a few times then stopped. Finally, he said, "It was more like they all had each other." He couldn't help himself in taking Legolas' hand, hoping the elf took his deeper meaning as well. He was not exactly comfortable talking about his parents' sexual conduct.


Luckily, Legolas did not press further on that point. "I had a difficult enough time with just the one. But you had six fathers?"


"Yes, though only one I called Adad."


"Gimli, son of Gloin," Legolas murmured thoughtfully. He dropped Gimli's hand and then fingered one of the dwarf's braids, tracing a strand of hair as it wove in and out amongst the others.


"Aye. But there was always someone around to look after me and teach me this and that. For example, my Eagenfather was a skilled mechanic."


"Put yer back into it, laddie!" his Eagenfather called from across the workshop as he adjusted one of the knobs. "There, that's it. Pull harder!"


Gimli readjusted his grip on the rope. The gloves were several sizes too big and his hands slipped about in them, but he still managed to hold tight. He pulled with all his might and something squeaked and clicked overhead. He wondered if he should be wearing a helmet, if things might come crashing down on him. Eagenfather hadn’t been specific about what this newest device was supposed to do exactly.


"We're close now!" Eagenfather called out to him. "Just a little further!"


Gimli didn't have much left in him, but he worked his hands up the rope, stretching his arms as high as they would go, then he pulled himself up, letting his feet leave the ground, so that all his weight was being used to pull down the end of the rope. He wrapped his legs around the rope and held himself in place.


There was a joyous exclamation from across the room and then a word uttered in Khuzdul that Gimli had been expressly told by his amad he must never say. Gimli looked over to see a large grindstone on its side spinning quickly but smoothly. Around it several axes lay on pedestals, their blades all sparking brightly as the stone sharpened them all simultaneously. It was genius.


"Oooff, laddie!" Eagenfather laughed, looking over at him. He spun a knob and threw a lever and then Gimli felt the tension in the rope go. Eagenfather raced over, sliding across the stone floor easily on fur-padded boots, to slide under Gimli just before the dwarfling hit the floor. It wouldn't have been a hard fall, but his big dwarf father's body still cushioned him nicely. And then he found himself being pulled down into a snuggle.


"It worked!" Gimli told him. "I saw it."


"Aye, it did. Thanks to yer help, o'course." He lifted Gimli's arms, flopping them about comically. "How do these feel?"


Gimli laughed. "Fine. Like I could wrestle a warg."


One of Eagenfather 's soft brown eyebrows quirked upward. "Not much call for that here in the caves. How about you round up the others so we can show them the machine, eh?"


Nodding enthusiastically, Gimli climbed off his Eagenfather 's chest and scampered down the hall, calling out to his other parents.


"That sharpening device is still used throughout the caves to sharpen weapons and tools." Gimli smiled. "Mostly tools nowadays, of course."


"Mm, of course," Legolas agreed. Though Middle Earth was largely a peaceful place, none could deny that the dwarves were a warrior race at heart. And they still practiced and prepared for battle, even if none ever came. There was never any harm in being too ready, too prepared.


"And from my Frárfather, I learned how to carve stone."


“The first thing you must know about carving is that you must be very patient. Can you be patient, Gimli?”


Gimli sniffled a little and bounced in his seat to warm up. It was always cold in his Frárfather’s workshop. “Maybe. When are you going to start carving?”


Frárfather laughed. Gimli loved his laugh. It was like a group of hammers all thrown at once, striking their targets. He loved being pulled into Frárfather’s arms for a hug when the dwarf was laughing. But Frárfather had his arms full at the moment. He was moving the large block of stone from one wall to the center table. It looked heavy and was nearly as large as he was. He was amazingly strong.


“May I help?”


With a loud grunt, the stone was set on the table, pushed back into place. “You can get my tools.” He slid himself onto a stool at the table and rolled up his sleeves.


Gimli hopped down from his stool and scampered over to the leather pouch of tools. He brought them over, wiping the back of his hand under his nose as he gave a strong sniff.


Frárfather picked out a good sized chisel and hammer. “The second thing you need  is a good plan. Once you carve stone away, there’s no putting it back on, you see. You need to know what you want to make and need to have a clear picture of it in your head. This piece of stone…” He patted the gray block affectionately. “This piece is going to be—“




Leaning to the side, peering around the stone, he looked over at Gimli, who was shivering. “Something you want to tell me, laddie?”


Sniff! No. Sniff! What’s the piece going to be?”


Putting down his tools, Frárfather slipped off his stool. “It’s going to be worked on some other time. Come on, laddie. Time for a drink of hot, spiced tea to warm you back up.” He scooped Gimli up and held the dwarfling to his chest. “Just don’t sneeze in the beard, aye?” Frárfather laughed and Gimli, delighted, snuggled close. 


"Sweet wee dwarfling Gimli with a sniffly nose." Legolas leaned over and kissed the end of Gimli's nose tenderly.


"My Oinfather taught me everything I know about healing." Legolas smiled at him and Gimli reached out, touching a finger to the elf's ear, sliding it up to the tip. He imagined it wiggling, the way it did when his elf was just about to let loose a sneeze. "Well, almost everything."


"But I want a story!" Gimli complained, pushing down his blanket only to have his Eaganfather pull it right back up again. This was unfair and, besides, he was too old to take naps. He wasn't sleepy at all. Not even a little bit. "Where's Nordfather?" Nordfather told the best stories.


Eaganfather sat back. "He's feeling poorly just now. Your Oinfather's tending to him."


"I could tend to him," Gimli insisted. "I... I could hug him and make him feel better!" He spread his arms out, indicating he was ready and well-equipped for a hug.


"I'm sure you could, but we don't want you getting sick, laddie. Do you remember how miserable ye were when y'had the sniffles a few months back?"


Gimli nodded. Oinfather had made him drink warm things that had helped his head and cleared his tickling nose. But he had always had someone in his bed with him to help him blow his nose after he sneezed and to keep him warm when he was shivery. They'd dropped kisses on the top of his head and laid cool cloths against his cheeks and forehead. They'd spoonfed him broth and given him his favorite breads. They'd told him stories to help him relax and sometimes even squeezed him in-between two of them to keep him as warm as possible when he slept. The sore throat, runny nose, and aching body were not things he would soon forget, but it hadn't been so bad.


"I'll look in on ye in an hour, and then perhaps we can work on that pulley system some more together, aye?" Eagenfather pressed his lips to Gimli's forehead and then swiped a callused finger across Gimli's chin. Gimli’s beard was short still, but Eagenfather was always joking about how long and fine it was already, a private joke between them that now only needed a single touch to Gimli's chin in order to make them both chuckle.


Gimli watched his father leave then rolled over on the couch, arms crossed over his chest. He wasn't sleepy. Not sleepy at all. In fact, he was worried. Glancing at the door to make sure no one was watching him, he slipped down from the sofa and set out to find his Nordfather.


It was mostly quiet in the halls, with many of the rooms closest to the sitting room deserted, including the big bedroom. Where could he be if not tucked into bed? Gimli kept looking. No one was in any of the workshops and he got a scare when he passed the kitchen and saw Eagenfather stirring something over a fire. Gimli jumped past quickly and held his breath on the other side of the doorway. A few moments passed and Gimli relaxed, sure he had not been seen. There was a closed door and Gimli raised himself up on his toes to look in through the keyhole. Toronfather and Adad were practicing fighting. Both wielded beautiful axes that gleamed and shone as they were swung around, striking their marks with force. Gimli's heart raced excitedly, and he wanted to go in for a better look. But his parents all knew this was naptime and they would shuffle him back to sleep right away if they saw him. And then he'd never get to see Nordfather and help him feel better. Besides, he wasn’t really tired.


So Gimli moved on, checking other rooms. In one, his amad and Frárfather sat huddled together over a table, inspecting a small pile of sparkling stones, sorting some into piles, holding others up to the light. He couldn't hear much through the door, but Frárfather must have said something funny because his mother let out a hearty laugh. She touched his cheek and kissed him, and then she handed him some sort of glass he used to look at several of the gems more closely. Careful to not bump the door handle when he pulled away from the keyhole, in case they might hear that, Gimli continued onward.


He was nearly out of rooms to check when he saw one door at the very end of the hall. As the door was always closed, he'd thought of it as another storage room. But Gimli was being thorough and so he checked it as well, peeking in through the keyhole.


And there he was. Nordfather lay on a fur rug facing of a roaring fire. He wore nothing, so Gimli got a clear view of the tattoo of runes decorating his back. One arm was bent at the elbow and his head rested upon it as he gazed into the flames. Then his body shook and he pitched forward with a juicy sneeze. “hee-ehhtchugshhhhh!” The sneeze was loud enough the Gimli could hear it through the door.


From somewhere beyond Gimli’s line of sight, there was a dwarvish blessing then Oinfather appeared with a handkerchief and a mug. He settled down on the fur just beside and held the handkerchief out, cupped just so, as Nordfather sneezed into it again. “heee-yihtchxshhhh!” Oinfather lowered the handkerchief then handed over the mug. He stroked and kissed Nordfather’s head as the dwarf drank, stopping only twice to hold the handkerchief back up to catch a sneeze.


The fire burned brightly, turning his fathers’ pale skins a gentle golden color. The flames danced mesmerizingly, and Gimli felt his eyelids droop. He tried to force them open, tried to tell himself he wasn’t tired. He wasn’t. But the room was so dark and quiet and peaceful. Gimli’s eyelids grew so heavy.


When the drink was done, Nordfather received a proper kiss. Gimli tried to open his eyes to watch as his two fathers lay down on the fur together, hands clasped, bodies pressed close. 


"What's so interesting?"


Gimli gave a start to find his adad squatting next to him. Silent and stealthy, he'd managed to sneak up on Gimli and come up right beside him without Gimli even noticing. Adad's brow was damp with sweat and he wore a smile on his face, not yet ready to reprimand Gimli for spying. He looked into the keyhole himself and chuckled. "Oh, aye... aye."


In a swift movement he swept Gimli up onto his shoulders. Gimli dug his hands into Gloin's hair to hold on, but the gentle, steady rocking motion as his adad walked back down the hall made it even harder to stay awake. "I was going to hug Nordfather and make him feel better."


Adad grunted. "Ah, but it's naptime for you, isn't it?"


Gimli nodded, his eyes trying desperately to close again. "He's ill."


"Just a little head cold, laddie. He's in good hands. Your Oinfather will take fine care of him, aye?"


Gimli nodded again, trying not to nod off. "...aye..." He felt himself slump to the side, tip over, and then fall into his adad's warm, strong arms. He was lowered down onto something soft, head hitting what he then recognized as the sofa cushion. His blanket came up to his shoulders, tucked around him tightly. Then the couch dipped as his adad sat next to him, petting his arm through the blanket. Perhaps he was there to make sure Gimli didn't go anywhere again. But Gimli had already fallen to sleep.


This time, Legolas had found Gimli’s hand and squeezed it while Gimli had been speaking. “Thank you for sharing these stories with me,” he said, bringing Gimli’s hand up and kissing it. “You make it sound as though it is happening all over again.” 


Gimli shook his head. “Y’should’ve heard my Nordfather’s stories. Now they were something truly special.”


Gimli rested his head on his arms which, in turn, rested upon the large slab of stone that served as the family table. Though his head was down, his gaze was drawn up toward where Nordfather stood, adding seasonings to something being cooked over the kitchen fire. They took turns cooking, but Gimli liked when Nordfather cooked, because Nordfather always told stories when he cooked.


 “So there Náin was, armed only with his axe, standing alone at the top of a rock face and staring down this legion of goblins about to attack him. And d’ye know what he did?”


Gimli shook his head at once, eyes wide, eager to find out how this all ended.


Nordfather grabbed nearby ladle, brandishing it in the air. “Náin took up his axe and swung it at the closest goblin, without warning. Off came his head, clear cut. It rolled close and Náin stepped forward, placing his foot upon it, saying ‘Any who dare challenge me will suffer the same fate.’”


A shiver ran up and down Gimli’s spine at the sound those words. “Did the goblins attack?” Surely they weren’t so foolish? Surely they would not dare oppose Náin, son of Durin, son of Durin the Deahless himself?


Nordfather stared at Gimli, ladle still in the air, poised and ready. Then he softened, lowered it, relaxed. “They ran.”


Gimli squealed gleefully.


“They fled like the cowards they were, but Náin pursued them, cutting the goblins down as they ran.”


Applause barely did the story justice, but Gimli clapped anyway. “Another?”


Nordfather shook his head. “I’m afraid there is no time. Dinner is about to be served. Would you help me, laddie?”


Gimli set eight places around the table and helped bring the food over. There were heaping platters of fish Gimli and his adad had caught together in the underground lake that morning. There were heaping bowls of cooked sweet potatoes and parsnips, rutabagas and radishes. There was a plate of rolls so high it towered over Gimli as he carried it to the table. There were cheeses and nuts and a large pot of some sort of bubbling stew that smelled so good Gimli wanted to taste it straight out of the pot, but he knew he mustn’t.


The rest of the family poured in presently, reaching for the hot, delicious food even as they took their seats around the table. Amad dished out a healthy-sized bowl of stew for Gimli right away and then cut his fish for him before helping herself to loads of everything.


Everyone spoke at once, commenting on the food—its presentation, its seasonings, its taste. There were compliments and suggestions alike, as well as some good-natured teasing.


“This,” Toronfather began, holding a small fish up by the tail. “Is the scrawniest, most pathetic catch I’ve ever seen.”


Gimli spoke up at once, knowing just what to say. “That’s the one Adad caught.”


Every dwarf burst out laughing at the joke. Oinfather threw a roll at Gimli’s adad, missing his head by an inch. Gloin howled with laughter, launching a roll right back, as well as the largest fish in the bunch, which just short of Oinfather’s plate. But before he could grab it, Amad got there first, claiming it as her own as everyone laughed even more.


"Sounds like it must have been wonderful to have so many family members around."


"Aye, mostly it was. But it also meant it was harder to get away with anything. And any one of them could discipline if they saw I'd done wrong."


The strong hand swung and smacked again on Gimli's bare bottom. He didn't feel the cold of the caves though, only the growing shame in his cheeks mirroring the growing heat in his arsecheeks. The spanking wasn't hard enough to make him cry like a wee babe, but Gimli gave a startled shout at the strength of the the first one and had to bite his tongue and clench his jaw to keep silent for the rest. The last thing he needed was his mother and other fathers seeing this as well. So he took each spanking stoicly, knowing he deserved it.


A dozen swats later, Gimli was pushed into a standing position, looking up into the only slightly less furious face of his Toronfather. The dwarf with steeley eyes and a fierce gray beard gripped his upper arms tight, holding him so Gimli couldn't even reach down and pull up his trousers yet. "You must never touch another dwarf's weapon without his permission. An axe is not a toy, not even a tool. It is an instrument of destruction. It is meant to threaten, to hurt, or to kill and must only be weilded by one sure of the damage it would inflict. D'ye understand, lad?"


Gimli looked into the stern, dark eyes and nodded.


"What's that then?"


Gimli's voice caught in his throat, so he cleared it quickly. "I understand, Toronfather."


Gently, the dwarf's hands released his arms. "Aye, y're a good lad. Let this serve to remind you in the future." He nodded his head. "Now pull up your pants and go find your Oinfather. He'll have somethin' for yer bum."


Gimli nodded obediently, clutching the waistband of his trousers in a bunch beneath his belly and not bothering to fasten the belt before scampering out of the practice room.


“Oh, Gimli…”


“I deserved it. That axe wasn’t mine to touch. But he taught me soon enough how to wield my own. But until I grew strong and skilled enough to take care of myself, I still needed my parents to protect me. Dwarves are fiercely protective of their women and children.”


Gimli pressed his hand to the bedroom door, and it gave way beneath his touch, swinging open enough to let him slip in. They’d all been fast asleep, he could tell that by their breathing. But one of his uncles had been awakened by the squeak of the door or the candlelight from the hall or from his soft footsteps. They all began to nudge each other awake, some coming to groggily and others sitting upright with a start. Gimli made it to the edge of the bed and tugged on the hem of a bedshirt, feeling better just to have it in his small fist, something warm, something real.


“Ay, what’s this about?” asked his adad, leaning over one of his fathers to get a better look at Gimli, whose nose was even with the mattress. His adad laid a hand on the other dwarf’s chest, rubbing soothingly to silently indicate he should stay put.


“Had a… bad dream,” Gimli whimpered, tears threatening to come again. He’d woken up crying and shaking and the only thought in his mind had been to get to his parents as quickly as possible. “M’scared to go back to sleep.”


He felt himself being lifted up, two big hands under his armpits picking him up and setting him down in the middle of the great circular bed. His mother reached forward and swept hair back from his face. “Go on, tell us the dream and it won’t seem so bad.” Her fingers danced against his pudgy cheeks, stroking lightly against the damp where his tears had run. Another hand rubbed up and down his back.


“There…” Gimli swallowed hard. It had been so scary. “There was a cave troll. He was big and ugly and nasty. He was grabbing dwarves, pulling off their limbs, and gobbling them up.”


One of his fathers sighed. “All right, now. Who’s been telling the laddie stories, eh? Nord?” There was more nudging in the bed, and a few grunts among them, but no one laughed at his fear.


His adad’s voice was soothing, “There isn’t any reason to worry, son.”


Oinfather reassured him as well. “There hasn’t been a cave troll in our caves since your great grandfathers were your age.”


This wasn’t as convincing as it should have been. The dream had felt so real. “But… but what if one comes?” The voices of his fathers came at him from all directions, filling the darkness with reassurances.


“No cave troll will harm you, not with all of us here to protect you.”


“We won’t let anything happen to you, Gimli lad.”


“That’s a promise.”


“Nothing’ll get past us.”


“Best sleep with us tonight. We’ll keep you safe.”


There was movement all around him in the bed. He was lifted up again and set down on a warm belly. Gimli nuzzled his face into a rough, full beard. A blanket was tucked under his chin and several hands patted his head comfortingly as his eyes closed.


“There now, nothing but sweet dreams to come, aye?”  


Gimli smiled as he drifted back to sleep.


Legolas was quiet for a good long while. Gimli practiced not jumping every time an acorn fell, crashing through the branches and hitting the forest floor.


It turned out he was going to need more practice. Just as Gimli thought he might suggest they go in, he heard Legolas take a small breath. The elf spoke softly. “You must miss having that.”


Gimli cocked his head.


“The liveliness, the large family being so many things to you and doing so many things for you. I knew you missed the caves, which is why I thought we should build our home on the mountainside. But now I think you must miss being surrounded by so many dwarves.”


“I do miss it sometimes,” Gimli admitted. “But I have something better. I have a lover who listens to my stories and cares for me. I have a lover who is a skilled craftsman and deadly but graceful with a bow. I have a lover who will fight to his last to protect me, even though I am the better fighter.”


“That it still open to some interpretation,” Legolas said, a single eyebrow raised.


Gimli grinned. “And I have a lover who teaches me the sounds of his forest. I have more than any other dwarf I have known.”


At once, Legolas turned in place and embraced him. And Gimli nuzzled his face into his elf’s chest, inhaling the elf’s woody, sweet scent and rubbing his cheek against the soft blond hair.