We Meet in Lorien
Author's Notes: Gimli has a question that's been nagging him, and Legolas has the answer. Oh boy. ^_^ (The story's serious though.)
I swear if anyone gets the wrong idea about this I'll send an angry Balrog after them.^^; I am a firm believer of Legolas and Gimli being best friends only (nothing more!), thank you very much.^_^
Gimli the Dwarf stooped a little to peer at a patch of yellow flowers—elanor, he remembered vaguely what the elves had called it—and then stepped over the blossoms carefully. Despite the fact that none of the elven folk were near at the moment, Gimli did not relish the idea of falling into their disfavor by wantonly ruining any plant life besides grass, which he couldn’t help but crush. After all, it wasn’t as if all peoples of Middle-earth had feet as light as the elves.
He stopped walking when he reached one of the bigger silver trees, their smooth grey trunks stretching to crowns of spun-gold leaves, etching beautiful patterns in the azure sky. Gimli stared up at the dizzying height and recalled the name that Legolas had called it—mallyern? Mallyorn? Mallorn. These were mallorn trees, found no where else but here, in Lothlorien. Somehow, he thought, that should make them enchanted; longer-living, perhaps, or maybe more resistant to an axe blow than other trees. But no, that wasn’t true. These trees were only kept alive by the Lady Galadriel’s power. . .and just for that reason he would rather cut off his beard first than harm even a golden leaf on these mallorns.
He was alone: the hobbits had gone exploring with Aragorn, Boromir was nowhere to be seen, and the last member of their group (Legolas) was among his kin, practically ignoring everyone else in his pretentious eagerness to ‘prove he was one of them.’ Or perhaps he was only curious, like all people would be when surrounded by long-sundered members of their own kind...
Gimli harumphed in annoyance, waving the thought away hastily because he couldn’t think why he would be defending the elf, and, having nothing else to do, sat down between two of the silver roots. They were parted evenly, forming a comfortable little nook at the point where they joined with the tree base that Gimli fit into snugly. He leaned his back against the smooth bark.
How long had he lived in Lorien? Days? Months? Gimli couldn’t quite tell, for such was the power of this wondrous place—it was timeless, or at least time slows its incessant march to marvel at the soft splendor in one of the last elf havens in Middle-earth. It was a living memory of loveliness long faded in the outside world, and although Gimli personally thought that caverns were the most beautiful places in Middle-earth—sparkling gems peeking out from jagged, sable crevices, shallow, clear pools that, if one looked down into it, reflected an entire underwater world of magnificent sculptures, all crafted by the great Aule himself—there was really no place he knew as soothing and full of healing as Lorien of the Blossom.
It was quiet save the sound of wind rustling through the far up, distant leaves of the mallorn tree tops. In any other place this would have made Gimli drowsy, but in Lorien he found that the peace made his senses grow sharper, clearer.
As if to prove his discovery, a muted, light pat from the other side of the tree made itself known to his ears. He should have never been able to hear that normally, Gimli thought to himself, and so the sound should be unfamiliar. And yet—the Dwarf stunned himself by instantly, instinctively, naming what he’d heard in his mind. The sound of an elf who is not attempting to be quiet. . . . Gimli instantly stood, turned, and looked around the tree.
He inhaled softly, bafflement and chagrin and wonder at himself all flashing through his coal-dark eyes in an instant. It was an elf, and of all elves it had to be the one he least wanted to see—Legolas, son of King Thranduil—one of the Nine Walkers traveling with the One Ring’s bearer, like himself. The elf was straightening from a cat-like crouch; he had obviously just jumped down from the mallorn, and with a grimace of annoyance Gimli realized he must have been sitting under Legolas the entire time. His first impulse was to duck back behind the tree again, but the keen-eared elf had already heard him, and was turning, his movement slow and liquid. Gimli saw the elf’s twilight-grey eyes widen almost imperceptibly as he recognized who was behind him. Standing next to the soft-silver trunk of the mallorn, gazing into an unexpected face, Gimli found no words to say.
It was Legolas who broke the silence. "What are you doing here?" He asked, dusting himself off with elegant hands.
Gimli shrugged and replied, "What business do you have knowing?" It was meant as a joke, but one look at his companion told Gimli that Legolas had certainly not taken it that way.
The elf’s whole slender form stiffened, "I was only asking."—affrontedly.
Two sentences into the conversation, and already they were starting to argue. There was clearly nowhere to go now but forward, so Gimli forged ahead roughly, "And I was only answering." If the elf was determined to make things difficult, he would happily oblige.
Legolas’ bright grey eyes glinted like forged steel for a brief instant, but then he smoothed the hard expression away in the next. It was with part relief and part vague irritation that Gimli realized how uneasily ruffled the elf was, like a clear pool of sacred water no one was allowed to touch. There would be no senseless bickering, but somehow, such calmness made Gimli feel as if he had just lost a battle with the elf. And Gimli hated losing battles.
"Very well," Legolas said formally with his irritating placid expression, and turned, with the smooth grace all his people possessed, to walk away. Gimli scowled blackly at the elf’s back, anger bubbling away slowly in his chest. The beautiful woods suddenly felt very warm; Gimli’s hands started to reach furiously for his axe. Then he stopped, amazed at himself for the second time that day. Legolas had done nothing, save being a bit high-and-mighty, but that was certainly no cause for him to just yank out his axe and attack, for all the world like a lunatic. Especially since there had been something else, something that had bothered Gimli ever since he’d had time to mull it over, something that had kept his temper in check before the elf when it would have previously flared up. What had happened back in Moria was utterly incomprehensible; Gimli couldn’t figure out why the elf had bothered. . . .
Meanwhile Legolas was steadily going further and further away from him. Any more hesitation and Gimli would lose his chance to ask this time. Should he call out? Legolas was hardly with the rest of the Fellowship in Lorien; he doubted he would find a chance to speak with the elf privately before the whole company set off again. And without warning—"Why did you do it?" Gimli burst out.
Legolas eased to a stop. "I beg your pardon?"
Over-sensitivity made the dwarf scowl, "You might turn around when you speak to someone."
There was a short silence, finally broken by a long, self-suffering sigh as Legolas turned, a none-too-pleased expression on his face. "Well?" He spread his hands before him as if to show an enemy he was unarmed.
Gimli suddenly felt his height—which meant he felt very small indeed—and cleared his throat uncomfortably. The sound was muffled by his thick, bushy, oak-brown beard. "I asked you why you did it," he mumbled, half-wishing the elf couldn’t hear.
Legolas stared at the Dwarf from where he stood for a few moments, a puzzled frown on his face, before he walked back to Gimli. "Why I did what?" He sounded suspicious.
Curse the elf’s sharp hearing. Gimli prayed briefly that what he was about to ask wouldn’t be dismissed scornfully by Legolas, and clarified. "Back in Moria, when I was. . .before Balin’s tomb. Why did you come back? Why did you not run with the others?"
Legolas did a double-take. It was the most surprised Gimli had ever seen him, and if it weren’t for his own anxiety, he would have laughed aloud. Finally the elf replied, with an air of disbelief, "You were not moving. What seemed like hundreds of orcs were swarming into the chamber. Why in Elbereth’s name should I not go back to help you?"
"Oh," Gimli said. That was the obvious answer—they were both part of the Fellowship, it was their duty to help each other when in danger. He should have known. He shouldn’t have needed to ask. What answer had he been expecting?
Legolas continued, a slightly annoyed tone in his voice, "Despite what you may think, I am not the kind to abandon comrades in the midst of trouble, no matter what the circumstances." He seemed about to say more, but then stopped as if a thought had suddenly occurred to him. Gimli, making no reply, did not notice the strange confusion that flashed across the elf’s eyes. In the next instant it was gone, and Legolas shook himself out of the disconcerting pause. "I will take your leave now." He turned again. Suddenly he seemed very eager to get away.
"One other thing," Gimli added abruptly.
"What is it?" Legolas practically whipped around, his fair elven face a mask of exasperation.
For a moment Gimli wondered if he should just let it go. And yet—he saved my life. . . . "I just wanted to thank you." He blurted. A pause. "For the help," he added lamely.
That was clearly not what Legolas had expected. He stared, wide-eyed, then blinked and tried to speak, his first attempts pathetically unsuccessful, especially for an elf. Finally he managed, "Oh. You. . . you are welcome. Very."
Gimli’s mouth twitched as he saw the elf’s obvious disgust at being rendered unable to formulate a coherent sentence, but he didn’t laugh. Instead he gazed at Legolas, who met his deep-set dark eyes with large, bright, grey ones, and let a long silence stretch between them.
Dwarves and Sindarin elves have hated each other for centuries. . . .
Balin was dead. One of his father’s closest companions, a dwarf who had been like an uncle to him. . .dead. Killed by orcs. It didn’t seem to be possible.
Centuries upon centuries of prejudice and distrust and scorn. . . .
Orcs were spilling in; the splintered wood Boromir had used as blockades did not last long. . . they kept coming, surging like an ugly black wave toward Balin’s sacred tomb. Vaguely, he heard Aragorn, or someone, cry out a command to run. But he couldn’t run, or the orcs would desecrate Balin’s final resting place. . . .
. . .even though both races were talented, both races had so much to learn from one another. . . .
"What in Elbereth’s name are you doing, Gimli?!" The voice was loud and jarring despite its smooth euphony. "The orcs are coming! Run!" He turned, and stared into a pair of star-grey eyes.
They viewed each other with open suspicion, patronizing and accusatory; it was impossible to become friends. . . .
Somehow, he could not speak, even to explain himself. "This is an ill place to die," he felt a slender hand, surprisingly strong, clamp down on his arm. "Come! Let us follow the others!"
Legolas broke the silence, reaching with a slim finger to push a lock of silken brown hair out of his eyes. "I was thinking of going for a walk around Lorien," he began carefully. "If you are not busy, would you care to come?" He sounded almost shy.
Gimli considered briefly. He had a sudden, crazy urge to grin. "Well, seeing as I have nothing else to do. . . ."
"In Lorien, there are no colors but those we know, gold and white and blue and green, but they are fresh and poignant, as if we have at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful."—quoted, with slight changes, from The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien.