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Axe and Bow

A Legolas and Gimli fan archive

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For Mortal Stakes

by Maia

Category: General
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JRR Tolkien. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Feedback: Yes!
Summary: Where do Hobbits come from?  Why a cross between a Dwarf and an Elf, of course!       Gimli and Legolas never make it to Valinor; instead they are sent back in time to the First Age, to give birth to the race of Hobbits.  A sequel to "Sapphires Set in Diamonds" by Deborah.   Also a different take on Mandos, Elven theology, and Tolkien's metaphysics.  
Dedication: For Deborah, a good friend and a great writer.
This is a sequel to "Sapphires Set in Diamonds" by Deborah. (It is written and posted with Deborah's permission)

Tolkien himself stated that female Dwarves have beards, dress like male Dwarves when they are away from home, and to non-Dwarves are indistinguishable from male Dwarves.

In "Sapphires Set in Diamonds" and in this story, Gimli is female, though assumed to be male by the rest of the Fellowship. Legolas does not discover that Gimli is female until after they have fallen in love. In this story, they have been married for many years.

This story is (obviously) an AU. It rests on the assumption that both The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings are entirely subjective accounts of the events they record. The Silmarillion -in this AU-is not an objective history of the creation of Arda and the First Age, but a summary of the Noldor’s beliefs, perceptions, and experiences. Other Elves may see the world very differently.

A cross between Elves and Dwarves. I should have guessed. Beardless and pointy- eared as Elves, smaller than Dwarves. The connection to nature of Elves, the sturdiness and practicality of Dwarves. In some ways, Hobbits are the best of both of us.

But the rest of it: my mind is still reeling! I would think it was all a dream, but if so, it is a dream that Legolas shares with me. Though it occurs to me to wonder if we have not both gone mad.

No. Not mad. Ulmo was real, so very real. I am a Dwarf, not an Elf. And if words fail even Legolas, how am I to speak?

Was it only a few weeks ago that Legolas and I made the decision to depart across the sea? It was then that fate turned us on an unexpected road. For who would have thought that it was I, a Dwarf, who began to dream of Valinor, and Legolas, an Elf, who hung back? I heard the voice of Aule in my dreams, calling me, and even in daylight I could not but follow the compulsion of my heart.

I always feared that someday the longing for Valinor would return to Legolas. He laughed, saying that Pelargir had been a temporary madness. But always I remembered the haunted look on his face as he gazed south towards the sea.

"I do not understand," he said over and over again.

And I asked, "Is it not so with Elves, that once they hear the cry of the gull, they can rest no more in Middle-Earth? It is not as the Lady Galadriel foretold?"

"No!" he cried by way of reply, and I was startled by the sudden depth of his passion, he who always seemed so reticent. "Not all Elves are alike! I am of the Silvan and the Sindarin folk, and the Silvan the greater part. My mother's father was of the Nandor, her mother of Cirdan's folk, and she was born in the Falas, and lived by the sea for her first two thousand years. In the Greenwood with my father, she longed for the sea--Yes!" his face became tormented, "Yes! She longed for the sea, but for the sea itself, for the salt wind and the sound of the waves upon the shore. Valinor meant nothing to her.

Tears stood in his eyes. "And I, I lived with my mother's people in my childhood, for many years after her death. I heard the music of the waves, and yet I returned to Mirkwood, and my heart was torn, but it was between the forest and the sea.

"But now--I do not understand! I thought the Lady Galadriel warned of my death; I could have accepted that. But to feel content no longer in the land that I love: I cannot bear it."

He seemed to fall into despair then, and I believed that I would lose him. But the shadow did not remain in his heart. The call of Valinor let go its hold on him, and he thought that perhaps it was simply a strange and temporary delusion, the result of seeing so much for the first time that was beyond the experience of a Wood Elf.

For as he later told me, the Avari see themselves as those who remain true to Elvishness, and the Eldar as those who yielded to the temptation to be something else. Not all the Valar believed that the Elves should be summoned to Valinor, and the Avari hold that Ulmo and those of like mind were correct: the summoning was a mistake, and remains a mistake. The Avari believe that they are tied to Arda by the will of Iluvatar, and that the teaching of the Valar serves only to weaken that tie. The Avari believe that Elven spirits are meant to be content in their connection to land and sea. Study and scholarship and craft is not what Elves are meant for.

The Noldor hold that when Elves are slain, they are summoned to Mandos, and to refuse that summons is a sign of weakness and rebellion in a soul. But many of the Teleri, even the Teleri of Valinor, believe that the opposite is true: Mandos is the temptation of clinging to individuality. The Teleri believe that Elven spirits are one with the spirits of the waters and the trees and the earth itself. They believe Elves eventually must lose their individuality and become one with Arda again, either through fading or through death. They believe that the Noldor cling to their individuality, seeking to be like the Valar, terrified of fading, and willing to do great evil to avert it. They believe that Mandos is the unhappy fate of Elves who cannot let go of their singular selves.

And so Legolas, steeped in the traditions of the Teleri, thought that the call of Valinor was a brief temptation, akin perhaps to the temptation of the Ring itself. He believed he had passed the test when, within a few months of Pelargir, he no longer felt the pull of Valinor.

But I wondered, and feared to lose him someday.

Yet never did I imagine that I would begin to dream of Valinor, and feel a call that Dwarves are not supposed to feel. Though it occurred to me that Dwarves are greatly akin to the Noldor, with their craft and skill. Legolas is content to revere the world and celebrate its beauty in song, but I must shape it, and if that be as dangerous as the Teleri believe, so be it.

Legolas was greatly disturbed that I should feel pulled towards Valinor when he was not. It caused great tension between us. But eventually, he received the dreams as well, and fell into despair. Finally we agreed to set sail.

We had been at sea a week when the storm came, a terrible storm. We battled the raging sea day and night, until we lost count of the days. Legolas never suggested it, but I wondered if the Valar were not enraged that I, a Dwarf, should presume to seek their forbidden shores.

But I kept those thoughts to myself, and set my mind upon keeping the boat afloat. Then came the day that the sea defeated us. I remember watching in terror as Legolas was swept overboard by a mountainous wave, and I ran to the rail of the boat frantically seeking him, and then I too was swallowed up by the hungry sea, and I fell downward as into a greedy monster's jaws, and I knew all hope was lost. I prayed that the fate of Elves and Dwarves be not permanently sundered--for like the Elves, we are tied to Arda, in a different fashion, but in like degree--and that someday we might meet again. Then that thought was lost to me, as my lungs filled with water, and I prayed only for a quick death.

It seemed my prayer was answered, for the agony of drowning passed suddenly. Time seemed to cease, but I was no longer afraid, indeed, I was no longer conscious of my own mind at all; it seemed that I was dissolved into the sea itself, at home in it, as a creature in its native habitat. I do not know how long I floated in the deeps, lost in the terrible wonder of the oceanic abyss.

And then it seemed that I was rushing upwards, climbing to brilliant light, light that dazzled my eyes. It seemed I floated upon the sea then, bathing in water and light, a shimmering dance of colors, and the splendor of it pierced my heart.

Then the colors seemed to coalesce into a form, a form akin to the sea itself. And the form spoke to me, asking my name. But I could not remember my name, or my life, for it seemed that the waters and the light were all that had ever been, or ever would be. And when the form asked again, "Who are you?" I felt that I was the sea itself, and the light, and the colors, and the waters, and the forms.

But then I saw him, Legolas, floating beside me, with a look of bliss upon his face, and I remembered, and I knew that we could not be the sea forever. He turned to me and smiled, and I remembered my name.

And then the form spoke to us, and we recognized him, Ulmo, Lord of Waters, and he told us that we had passed beyond the circles of the world into Aman, but that we must not continue on. We must return to Middle-Earth, but not to the Middle-earth we had known. By the will of Iluvatar, we would return to the distant past.

He told us that the much that is in the mind of Iluvatar is hidden from the Valar. And one part of the mind of Iluvatar that the Valar did not see was the appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, of Hobbits. Legolas and I looked at each other and wondered, for we too had noticed that Hobbits had no story of their own creation. Then Ulmo showed us a vision of the past, and present, and future as one, and we saw ourselves returning to Middle-earth in the First Age, and having children. Twelve children.

And our children were Hobbits. A new race would be born from us, a race that would unite the Three Kindreds, a race that would in the far future merge with the race of Men.

This would be our great work.

But to accomplish it we must be given the Gift of Men. For if our spirits remained tied to Arda, then we would remain and yet be born in the Third Age, and there would be two of each of us, and that could not be.

Ulmo smiled at us then. For he knew our hearts, and our grief at being sundered from the rest of the Fellowship. But now we would all share one mortal fate, beyond Time.

And so we set sail back to Middle-earth, but not the Middle-earth we had known. We are now in the First Age, in the world of our ancestors, and we are filled with awe. We may not enter Beleriand but must dwell in the Vale of Anduin. We journey upriver now, to the the place of Iluvatar's design.

The wonder of our meeting with Ulmo is still bright in our hearts. And yet I find that my mind is restless. The Elves made the Rings of Power, but the Dwarves of Moria were close to them in craft and knowledge. It is the evil of Elves and Dwarves that the Hobbits-our children-will redeem.

But beyond that, they are the only thing of us that will live on into the Ages of Men. Men have received the knowledge of the Noldor and the wisdom of the Maiar. But what of us? What of Dwarves and Silvan Elves, the ancient folk of Arda?

Perhaps...perhaps, when our races fade and become a part again of the land itself, when our spirits are only echoes in the stones and trees of a world filled with Men: perhaps Hobbits will bring to that world of Men something of the indominatable nature of Dwarves, and something of the closeness to the wild of the Silvan Elves.

They will be the best of us all.

And yet I ache for them, my children, as I ached for them even when I did not know they were my descendents.

Legolas and I walk silently together, each lost in thought. But suddenly Legolas laughs. He turns to me, his eyes twinkling with merriment and feigned consternation. "Gimli!" he asks, "Gimli, however are we going to feed twelve Hobbits?"


* * *


Note (in response to Finch's review): The Gift of Men is unique to Men (and Hobbits). Dwarves do NOT share it. Dwarves age, but they are just as tied to Arda as Elves are. Tolkien stated in several places that they are reincarnated. It is only Men who leave Arda in death and are freed from Time.

Gandalf is the only truly immortal member of the Fellowship, being a Maia who was created before Arda.

As Tolkien notes, Elven immortality is only apparent immortality, and human mortality is only apparent mortality.

Elves have no guarantee of continued existence after the end of the world. The Noldor, at least, (as Finrod explains to Andreth in Morgoth's Ring) greatly fear that they will cease to exist with the world's end.

Men will take part in the Second Music of the Ainur, so they, seemingly, have a guarantee of existence after the end of time.

Both Elven souls and Dwarven souls are tied to Arda; neither Elves nor Dwarves leave the world in death.

Therefore, Legolas and Gimli would in death be sundered from the rest of the Fellowship, unless granted mortality--and only Iluvatar can do that. In this story, Iluvatar does grant Legolas and Gimli, and their children the Hobbits, the Gift of Men. So all the Fellowship (except Gandalf) will share a mortal fate.

(And yes, I know that in The Silmarillion it says that Luthien was the only full-blooded Elf (Elros and Arwen had human blood) who was ever granted mortality. But in this AU, the authors of the Silmarillion had no knowledge of the fate of Legolas and Gimli. Indeed, no one but Legolas and Gimli ever knew: even the Hobbits did not know their origins)

As for time travel: think of it as a closed loop. The events of this story are not a change in history: this is the way it always happened. Legolas and Gimli are born in the Third Age, live until their departure for Valinor, go back to the First Age, and give birth to Hobbits. The Valar are not altering the past, they are making possible the past that always was, at Iluvatar's command.

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