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Of Ears and Beards, A Legolas/Gimli Slash Essay

 Title: Of Ears and Beards, A Legolas/Gimli Slash Essay

Author: Jas Masson

Email: jasmasson@yahoo.com

 Elves and dwarves.  They just don't get along.  Except for the UST.  And the games.  And the sailing into the sunset together...

 

 Icon courtesy of __kali__  

1. Introduction

 

This is a Strange FriendshipTreebeard, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter X

 

In Fair Middle Earth, where we set our scene, the enmity between Elves and Dwarves is legend.  The Montagues and Capulets have nothing on them. 

 

The origins of their dispute are lost in antiquity:

“It was not the fault of the Dwarves that the friendship waned,” said Gimli.

 

“I have not heard that it was the fault of the Elves,” said Legolas.

 

“I have heard both,” said Gandalf. (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IV)

 

and this distrust and dislike between elves and dwarves is the setting in which our two protagonists meet.  Legolas is a wood-elf of indeterminate (but old) age, and Gimli is a dwarf.

 

Not only is there general dislike between elves and dwarves, but there is personal history between the two families.  Legolas’s father Thranduil treated Gimli’s father Gloin somewhat, ah, shabbily in The Hobbit.

 

Elves and dwarves are as disparate in appearance and temperament as it is possible to be.  Elves are calm and graceful, dwarves aggressive and stout.  Elves delight in forests and flora, dwarves in caves and rocks.  Elves are tall and beautiful, dwarves are short and... not beautiful.

 

So there are a myriad of reasons why Legolas and Gimli should not be friends let alone soulmates; racial prejudice, family history, likes and dislikes, temperament and appearance.  And yet they become the closest of companions.  A quote in Entertainment Weekly (2004):

 

"As the Fellowship's most agile warrior, Bloom brings a stoic bravery to his elven bowman. And his thawing relationship with John Rhys-Davies' Gimli gives Arwen and Aragorn a run for Most Touching Couple."  (Courtesy of yav_14  )

 

The relationship is there in spite of their differences and it is a beautifully slow and genuine relationship in both the pages of the book and the scenes of the film.  If love can blossom, and it does, between these most unlikely two, then surely romance exists! 

 

For this essay’s purposes I will use both the Jackson films and the books as canon.  There is nothing in the movies that is contradictory to the books for this relationship, although it is expressed in a more contemporary manner.  The one difference is the most superficial – Legolas of the books has dark hair, but I must confess that on this, Orlando Bloom and Peter Jackson have completely persuaded me!

 

2. Rocky Beginnings

 

“Never trust an Elf” (Gimli, The Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Version)

 

The start is less than promising.  Open hostility in the movie and distrust in the books.  The differences between them are plain to see, the enmity between elves and dwarves is stressed, particularly when entering Lothlorien, where the company are obliged to be blindfolded because of the Elves’ distrust of Gimli (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter VI).  However, these differences, in actual fact do not last long.

 

Instead of hostility and distrust, the relationship moves more into a competition.  A game of one-upmanship. 

 

Gimli is pleased at the opportunity to show off Moria to Legolas:

 

“And now, Master Elf you will enjoy the fabled hospitality of the dwarves” (The Fellowship of the Ring, movie version)

 

In The Two Towers, in both film and book, they have a competition as to who can kill the most orcs, (won by Gimli), a competition continued in the films to The Return of the King.

 

Gimli is evidently sensitive to Legolas’s opinion.  In The Two Towers, Aragorn ‘tosses’ Gimli into a hoard of orcs, but only after Gimli makes him promise, “Don’t tell the Elf.”

 

In the extended edition of Return of the King, they also indulge in that most primitive of masculine competitions, a drinking game (won by Legolas).

 

And yet, while the edge to their relationship is in evidence, so is the humor and respect.

 

3. Growing Respect

 

“You comfort me” (Gimli to Legolas, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V and Legolas to Gimli, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VII)

 

That the competition between them has no malice, and is rooted in affection, is clearly evident.

 

In The Two Towers movie, a fan favorite scene occurs at Helm’s Deep, while waiting for the battle, Gimli (a little on the short side) cannot see the approaching army, and Legolas asks:

”Shall I describe it to you... Or would you like me to find you a box?” (Legolas to Gimli, The Two Towers, Movie version)

 

Gimli laughs at this instead of taking offence.  From The Two Towers onwards, there are many examples of their budding relationship.

 

They ride together where possible and comfort the other’s fears.  They worry over the other’s well being and there are countless examples of where they consider themselves as one.  They become LegolasandGimli:

 

“Where you go, I will go” (Gimli to Legolas, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V)

 

“You speak for me, Gimli” (Legolas, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VIII)

 

“I will gladly go with you, if Legolas, my comrade, may ride beside us.” (Gimli to Eomer, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VI)

 

“Legolas and I...” (The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter X)

 

In the extended version of Return of the King, Gimli nudges Legolas to shoot Saruman, and Legolas goes instantly to obey.

 

“I for one!” cried Legolas.  “And Gimli with him!” said the dwarf.  (The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter II)

 

And in the same chapter Gimli is only persuaded into the Halls of the Dead because Legolas goes; because “An Elf will go underground when a dwarf dare not.  Oh.  I’d never hear the end of it.”  (Movie version.)

 

Their concern and caring for each other is much in evidence:

 

“Where is Gimli?” (Legolas to Aragorn, at Helm’s Deep, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VII)

 

 

“I would cut off your head, beard and all, Master Dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground,” said Eomer.

 

“He stands not alone,” said Legolas, bending his bow and fitting an arrow with hands that moved quicker than sight.  “You would die before your stroke fell.” (The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter II and movie version)

 

And while their differences remain, they are prepared to overcome them for each other:

 

“[I] would pay pure gold for a brief glance [of the Glittering Caves]!” [said Gimli]

 

“And I would give gold to be excused,” said Legolas; “And double to be let out if I strayed in!”...  “Let us make this bargain – if we both return safe out of the perils that await us, we will journey for a while together.  You shall visit Fangorn with me, and then I will come with you to see Helm’s Deep.”

 

“That would not be the way of return that I should choose,” said Gimli. “But I will endure Fangorn, if I have your promise to come back to the caves and share their wonder with me.”  (The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VIII). 

 

This promise is fulfilled in The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter VI.  To be with each other they are prepared to put all other differences aside.

 

4. Eternal Love

 

“You must not go to the Havens, Legolas.  There will always be some folk, big or little and even a few wise dwarves like Gimli, who need you.” (Merry to Legolas, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter IX)

 

The pact they make to visit Fangorn and Helm’s Deep together is only the start of their journey.  Together they move South while Aragorn lives and then:

 

“[Gimli] was named Elf-friend because of the great love that grew between him and Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and because of his reverence for the Lady Galadriel...when King Elessar (Aragorn) gave up his life Legolas followed the last desire of his heart and sailed over the sea.  We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Gloin’s son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf.”  (Appendix A, III Durin’s Folk)

 

Legolas and Gimli are the eternal couple. 122 years after the fall of Sauron they are still together and sail off to the Grey Havens, and theirs is chronologically the last action of the book (Appendix B).

 

LegolasandGimli are Tolkien’s OTP; so unlike in all the trivial, unimportant ways, and yet intrinsically and inescapably bound together in friendship and love.

 

5. Fanon

 

So.  You’ve seen just some of the canon evidence that LegolasandGimli are meant to be.  But why slash them?

 

Well, a brief survey so L/G fans provokes a number of responses.  I suppose, however, before this, I should deal with the visuals.  This is no ‘ship where pictures of the characters will make your argument for you.  They do look a little odd together as Tolkien admits:

 

Together the Elf and Dwarf entered Minas Tirith, and folk that saw them pass marvelled to see such companions; for Legolas was fair of face beyond the measure of men, and he sang an elven-song in a clear voice as he walked in the morning, but Gimli stalked behind him, stroking his beard and staring about him. (The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter IX)

 

Some fans may have kinks for very physically different lovers.  Some fans may enjoy the insecurity and angst opportunity such differences may cause, usually in Gimli, but not always.  After all, beautiful though he may be, Legolas is not a ‘short hairy woman’ (Return of the King Extended Edition) which is a dwarf’s usual taste.

 

Many fans, however, simply enjoy exploring a relationship strong enough to survive such differences. 

 

Many fanfics focus on the movement from hostility to love, many on how they overcome their differences, and the complexity of the relationship make Legolas and Gimli excellent slash fodder.

 

To get you started, the main Legolas/Gimli site is Axe and Bow:

 

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic.htm

 

This contains the long list of Legolas and Gimli fics from which you can take your pick, but is not often updated.

 

For a steady stream of L/G, the Axe and Bow yahoogroup is, however, active. Sarah has just finished the excellent 38 chapter ‘Return to Mirkwood’.

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Axe_Bow/

 

Also updated, at varying frequency, is the Legolas/Gimli page of The Library of Moria, the main LoTR slash archive:

 

http://www.libraryofmoria.com/legolasgimli/index.html

 

where there is a frequently updated WIP, For Continuing Strange, by Annie Harris.  Nicely done if a little clichéd in character.

 

On these archives, here are some prime stories.  Some are favorites of mine and some others recs to try and ensure they are not all one type of fic:

 

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-honesty-alien1.htm

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-honesty-tantalus.htm

 

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-marie-dove.htm

 

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-moirai-journey.htm

 

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-oakenshield-dreaming.htm

 

http://www.libraryofmoria.com/legolasgimli/chamberofthedancingrainbows.txt

 

http://www.libraryofmoria.com/legolasgimli/grace.txt

 

http://www.henneth-annun.net/stories/chapter_view.cfm?STID=433&SPOrdinal=1

 

http://www.libraryofmoria.com/legolasgimli/littlethings.txt

 

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1385363/1/

 

I cannot not rec this trilogy, as it is my favorite.  However, you will note I only attach two links, as the third part is a long time in coming.  It is well worth reading anyway, and perhaps some additional begging will speed the process along:

 

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-ladyhawk-starlight.htm

http://axebow.hakaze.com/fic/fic-ladyhawk-clouds.htm

Comments

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YAY! OTP.

I mean, really, there's nothing else to say. They are the OTP. Theirloveissocanon. And they ride off into the sunset together. *squee*
Absolutely. Tolkien's OTP (and mine;-)

Oh, one of my OTPs!

Nice essay - I liked all the quotes!

The one difference is the most superficial – Legolas of the books has dark hair, but I must confess that on this, Orlando Bloom and Peter Jackson have completely persuaded me!

As far as I know, it is never stated in the book which colour Legolas' hair has. Most elves have dark hair, so it is likely that he has dark hair, but since his father is blond, he could very well have blond hair, too.

Re: Oh, one of my OTPs!

D'ya know, I couldn't find it in there when I reread the book cover to cover, but assumed I must have missed it. Still, never mind, he's definitely blond for me now, anyway!
Their friendship, I think, is supposed to mirror the friendship of Ruth and Naomi, which has been read as a lesbian relationship before: "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge." --Ruth I

Very nice. Very canon, those two.
Hmm, Tolkien did consider his work historical, and may well be based on biblical history. Certainly there are similarities. Both are wonderfully bonded realtionships.

Glad you enjoyed!
Great essay, and I love those two.
Me too! Love them love them! Glad you enjoyed it. J
Squee! Best couple ever! *dies of the love* You brought up everything I would have thought of, and then some. Go you! Also, mad quote love. You just know Tolkien loved them too.

However, repeat after me:
The one-n canon,
On the screen;
The two-n cannon,
War machine.

Thank you.
Doh. I need to remove cannon from my spell checker. Their love is NOT a phallic shaped, explosive, devastating weapon... hmm... ;-)
*purrrr*
Finally a L/G essay. I adored it.

Hmm and Legolas does indeed have a dark hair in in the book. It is mentioned in one sentence in the book. Don't remember exactly where but vaguely something tells me it was in The Fellowship of the Ring par of the book where their tried to cross the mountain. But I am not 100% sure if it was there.

My absolute favourite L/G story is Nimue's "When You Are With Me" the prequel pre-slash/friendship story "Unravelling the Tale" is pretty damn good too.

Though "Cold Comfort" (simply love the unique theme the author has chosen) and it's sequel "Fire from the Embers" by ... can't remember who wrote them is a very good L/G stories too.

*goes into her dream world to think about more G/L goodness)

annakas
Nimue's story is my absolute favorite L/G story, too! I wasn't even that into the pairing until I read it. And I agree that there's definitely a reference to Legolas' hair being dark somewhere in the books. I might have to dig them out again now.
I first read the trilogy when I was ten years old and I assumed the ending meant Legolas and Gimli were married. They've been my Tolkien OTP ever since. True love overcoming racial enmity! :-)

Very nice essay. I'm delighted to have the recs, since I don't read much LoTR fanfic.
That's definitely what I think! They're totally committed to each other. Glad you liked the essay.

(Anonymous)

The hair issue.

A fine essay that offers much supporting evidence of the remarkable bond between our Elf and Dwarf. There is always more to be said (and stories to be written) and I hope this stirs up some inspiration.

Legolas' hair colour, however, is never mentioned in the books. Ever. There are arguments both ways, but the Elf is never described to us in any great detail. Imagine him as you will, he's as you'd like him to be... which is another creative plus for those of us who like to encourage Legolas and Gimli to behave more intimately.

(And thank you, Annakas, for the compliments!)
Nimue

Re: The hair issue.

Thanks Nimue for clearing that up. I meant to rec you but was a little pressed for time in the end!
Splendid, splendid essay, and a wonderful blending of book and movie canon to form a balanced whole accessible to fans of either or both. But hey, I was sold on Gimli/Legolas from the beignning... ;)
You were the easy sell;-) Still, I think the PJ films were good enough, and true enough to get a place in G/L canon! Thanks for the compliment
That's my favorite slash pairing in Tolkien! Nice essay!
Thanks. Their definitely Tolkien's OTP, I think!
Ah, not a shipper myself, but truly a very cute pairing, and your essay made me smile several times.
Thanks very much. They always make me smile!
Legolas and Gimli are my eternal LotR OTP - so much so that I simly can't read the text without seeing it. I, in fact, completely avoid most of LotR fandom now-a-days (I was relatively active pre-film), purely because I simply can't read Legolas with anyone but Gimli.

To me, Legolas/Gimli is as canon as Arwen/Aragorn, or Faramir/Eowyn. I simply can't wrap my mind around an interpretation in which it isn't there.

So, yes.

(Also, a quick reminder - there is only one 'n' in canon. 'Cannon' is something you shoot big balls of lead out of off.)
out of, even.
Great, detailed look at their relationship! It's interesting when you see the movie dialogue next to the book dialogue how clearly the difference in "diction" comes through. But I agree that the relationship has much the same parameters in both the books and movies.

I'm glad you mentioned the background in The Hobbit. Legolas could very easily have been at the Battle of Five Armies himself, which would make his background with Gimli's family even stickier.
Yes, I agree about the expression of their feelings being different in book to film, but the sense and relationship still the same.

I'm sure Leggy must have been there, but didn't put it in as I was trying my best to show non-believers canon evidence only (but I believe like you that when Gimli takes him home there'll be some tension ;-)
Great essay! I always had the happy little fantasy that sailing to the Grey Havens together was really just a euphemism for moving to Canada and getting married.
LOL! Absolutely. In fact, I think Canada for my vacation this year!
What a wonderful essay! I used to be a somewhat active reader of Legolas and Gimli, but somehow the only story I can call to mind right now is one that involved Gimli's scandalous piercings, so I'm thinking of going back and poking around again.
Yes! Glad to entice you back!
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