November 2002
Legolas/Gimli. Slashy.
Small spoilers for Tolkien's Return of the King.

You may recall the episode in The Hobbit in which Bombur falls into one of the rivers and promptly loses his memory of the past few months. Remember that river? Yes.

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I ride back to Mirkwood with the memory of your refusal still burning like a coal in my mouth, a knife in my side. Dearest, you named me, and beautiful. I was so certain that you would love me in return.

Yet you did not fall into my arms but instead bade me walk beside you, and so beneath Fangorn's wide green arches told me of the wife waiting under the mountain and a child full-grown as well. On hearing this my expression must have been all astonishment for you certainly laughed to see it. In truth I had long thought of you a child yourself, so young you always seemed beside my autumnal years, that it startled me to my core to recall that the notches in your belt were testament to your longevity as well as your victories, a life long-lived in fullness beyond my knowledge and experience.

There was kindness in your laughter, and compassion in your eyes when you bade me ride for home so that you might sooner do the same, but your gentleness only cut me like a blade. Your manner reminded me of a woman long married who but humoured her youthful and over-eager paramour, and so that was the second day I stood humbled before you.

Fair beyond words, you called me, but I recognised now the words of an artisan rather than a lover. You said that there would be more than lovers enough in my lifetime than to fret on an old comrade, and that I would forget soon enough that I ever saw you as aught but a friend. So you assured me, and merely as balm for a wounded pride you meant your words, yet still you are more right then you know.

Never before so lightly spurned have I been, and never yet by one whose regard I hold so close to my heart. This pain scorches like fire, and I know but one place to quench it. So deep into the wood I ride, down paths treacherous and forgotten, beneath the loathsome webs of Shelob's chittering children, until I come to the dark places where even the bravest of my people rarely venture. Here I kneel, on banks of dust-black sand by a fast-flowing river, and unbind my hair so that it drops about me like a cloak.

This river has no name but Forgetting, and few there are that seek it out.

Now I bathe my face in its water, the cool and banishing water, and let the drops trickle down my throat. Already my lids grow weary, and my ears do sing with the hum of incipient slumber. Sweet dreams and fantasies, I have heard this water brings, and afterwards the blankness of new beginnings. In eagerness I bring my hands to my mouth, and drink.

Thus I shed my words unspoken and embraces unreturned, my sweet and unfulfilled desires; and so too your pitying look, your kind and unbearable laughter. Lost in the cold river water, carried away in its dark swift depths.

And when I wake, I will ride back to my father's palace, shaking the sleep from my eyes and the droplets from my hair. By the time I have passed beneath its eaves your refusal will no longer burn in my memories, and my love unrequited I will no longer recall, not even in my dreams.


[Rowan's Fanfiction]

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings, Middle-Earth, and associated characters are entirely and utterly the property of the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a non-profit fanwork, completely unaffiliated and benign.