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by Little My
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.
Summary: Sometimes getting stranded by the weather is not a bad thing. A vignette from the "Lessons in Gardening" and "Telling of Tales" series.
In the midst of all the rejoicing and/or tearing in distress at silky elven tresses and glorious dwarven beards over TTT (which I haven't seen yet--have to wait until the weekend…aaaaarrrggh!), a story. Or rather, a vignette. Not TTT based, I'm afraid--just a seasonal piece (winter, that is). Season's Greetings, everyone!.
Gimli awoke in the grey light of dawn, curled into a tight ball and completely buried under the covers, his face pressed against the elf's warm back. There was a strange muffled stillness to the room that impressed itself upon him through his sleep-fogged senses. Shifting slightly, he cautiously poked his head out from beneath the blankets and was startled by the sharp bite in the air. It was cold! The fire must have gone out in the middle of the night. He puffed out a breath experimentally and watched as it condensed into fog in front of his eyes.
Looking over to the window, he could see nothing but a swirling whiteness. Snow! It had been a particularly mild December, and dry, with hardly any precipitation of any kind. The season had seemed to be in limbo--no longer autumn, but not properly winter yet, either. Now, it appeared to have made up its mind with a vengeance.
Sensing movement beside him in the warm bed, he looked over to see Legolas's eyes slowly coming into focus as he woke up. The elf smiled sleepily at him, then sat up suddenly with a gasp as he caught sight of the view from the window.
"Gimli! Snow!" he exclaimed, then was out of bed with a single bound, throwing the covers off completely. Gimli gasped at the frigid air and scrambled to cover himself again.
"Legolas, it's freezing!" he protested, burrowing beneath the blankets and shivering.
But the elf was peering out the window with delight, the muted, snow- filtered light sliding over his bare skin, little affected by the temperature. "It's so beautiful! Come, Gimli, get up!" He laughed and leapt upon the dwarf's huddled form, pawing through the blankets until he had unearthed Gimli's scowling face.
"Why such a gloomy expression, my dear dwarf?" he said, playfully tugging at the covers that Gimli held tightly clenched against his neck.
"It is early, it is snowing, I am cold, and you are *entirely* too cheerful!" grumbled Gimli, trying to roll over and away from his irritating companion.
"Aye, it is snowing," replied Legolas musingly, resting his chin atop Gimli's blanket-mounded shoulder. "There are great drifts all around the house--it must have been quite a storm last night. It's surprising neither of us woke, but then I guess we were both a bit… tired." He grinned impishly down at the dwarf and Gimli snorted.
"And I would imagine that the roads are impassible at the moment, and will remain so for several days. It would certainly be too dangerous to set out on a journey today, as it is still snowing quite hard, visibility is poor, and it would be easy to stray from the path and become lost…"
Gimli looked up at the smiling elf, a slow grin spreading across his own face. They had both planned on leaving that day to return to their respective colonies--Legolas to Northern Ithilien and Gimli to Aglarond. It was always a sad parting, for they knew it would likely be long months before they would have an opportunity to see each other again. But now, the weather had stepped in and handed them the perfect excuse to spend more time together--and no one could fault them for not returning immediately to their colony duties.
Levering himself up in the bed, Gimli looked out of the window again. The snow was falling thickly and steadily in a heavy curtain of big fluffy flakes. It must have been blowing hard in the night, for he could see drifts banked high against the walls of the house. The landscape was unrecognizable from the day before--the bare spindly trees and shrubs, and Legolas's forlorn garden filled with withered brown plants, were completely transformed by the thick blanket of snow that seemed to glow with a light of its own. It *was* beautiful.
Returning his gaze to the elf, he smiled. "It seems, my friend, that we are snowbound."
Legolas laughed, and after a fond kiss, he sprang off the bed, into his clothes and out of the bedroom. Gimli could hear him stamping hastily into his boots, and then with a gust of cold air, the front door opened and slammed shut again.
Following at a more sedate pace, Gimli rose and dressed, shivering in the chill air. Swiftly, he rekindled the fire in the bedroom hearth, then the hearth in the living room. Stirring the banked coals in the cookstove soon gave him a blaze there as well, and he set the kettle on it to warm water for washing and for coffee.
Looking out of the back window, he could see Legolas standing in the middle of the kitchen garden, head back, staring up into the swirling snowflakes with an expression of rapture on his face. He wore no cloak and a small drift of snow had already accumulated upon his head and shoulders.
Chuckling, Gimli busied himself making breakfast--frying up sausages and eggs and toasting bread over the fire, keeping one eye on the elf's antics through the window. He had vanished momentarily, then reappeared walking lightly atop the snow with Arod in tow. The horse picked his way disdainfully through the drifts, looking for all the world as if he thoroughly did not approve of the current state of affairs. Legolas was talking to him in a stream of animated elvish, but the stallion obviously remained unconvinced. They both drifted out of sight around the side of the house.
The front door banged open, and in a whirl of snow and frigid air, Legolas came dancing in.
"Gimli! You must come out, it's wonderful!" His cheeks were flushed with cold and his eyes sparkled with enjoyment.
"Not until I've eaten something," said Gimli, smiling as he turned back to the stove. "You should eat, too. And put on your cloak, you mad elf!" But Legolas was gone again, slamming the door shut behind him, a small pile of melting snow the only evidence that he had been there at all.
Gimli was just setting the table when Legolas rushed suddenly past the window and flung himself headlong into a drift of snow with a muffled whoop of glee. Moving hastily over to the window, Gimli peered out with amusement to see the elf floundering about in the deep snow, laughing, while a bemused Arod looked on.
He knocked on the windowpane. "Breakfast!" Gimli bellowed through the thick glass as Legolas raised his laughing face to his. But the elf shook his head. "Later," Gimli could see him mouth, and he hopped off over the drifts and out of view.
The air was pleasantly warm now, the thick walls of the well built house keeping in the heat of the fires. Gimli ate with relish, enjoying the hot food and coffee. Everything always seemed to taste much better when eaten on a cold snowy day inside of a snug house.
But now he had to leave said snug house to go outside and indulge the whimsy of a snow-mad elf. Gimli looked wistfully for a moment at the comfortable chair pulled up enticingly before the merrily crackling fire and sighed, before retiring to the bedroom to pull on a second shirt and another pair of socks. Donning boots, cloak and gloves completed his preparations, and he pulled open the front door and stepped outside.
The fresh cold air took his breath away momentarily, and he stood for while in silence, watching the snow falling steadily down. The thick flakes clung to his face and eyelashes, making him blink, and his hair and beard were soon speckled with white. The silence was deep and imposing.
Legolas was nowhere to be seen--only the light prints of his boots in the snow gave evidence of his presence, and the occasional deep hole marked by scuffling where the elf had forcibly thrown himself into a drift.
Picking up a handful of snow, Gimli squeezed it and marveled at how well it compacted and kept its shape--he could see each perfect indentation where his gloved fingers had closed around it. Really, it was perfect snow for snowballs, he thought, fondly remembering many a rousing snowball fight when he was young--then he stiffened suddenly in suspicion.
Perfect snow for snowballs, and a missing elf. A deep heavy snowfall, quickly hiding tracks and muffling sounds. He smelled an ambush.
His eyes darting here and there, Gimli hastily surveyed the territory. There was still no sight or sound of Legolas, but there were many snow- mounded bushes and hillocks that the elf could be hiding behind. The last time he had seen Legolas, he had been heading around the right side of the house. Very well, then, he would go around the left, and perchance be able to sneak up on the elf unawares. With a feral grin, Gimli rolled a few snowballs, storing some in the inside pockets of his cloak and holding the others ready in his hands.
With as much stealth as he could manage, Gimli waded off into the knee- deep drifts towards the left corner of the house. He approached carefully, listening with all his might, but still he heard nothing. The snow continued to fall innocently.
Rounding the corner cautiously, he saw nothing but more snow, drifting about the trunks of the dark skeletal trees and the huddled bunched shapes of dormant shrubs. Nothing moved. Proceeding down the side of the house, he passed the side living room window and then the bedroom window without incident. The silence grew more pressing and ominous.
Peeking his head around to the back of the house, he could still see no sign of his quarry. He marked a few likely trees and bushes that might be concealing an elf, and hastened around the corner to the relative shelter of the snow covered woodpile. But no attack came, and he felt himself growing tenser.
Adjusting his grip on his snowballs, he crept beneath the back bedroom window to the last corner that would lead him into the kitchen garden. He had almost completed a full circuit of the house, and if the elf were lying in wait anywhere, it would be there, where there was ample cover.
He huddled by the back corner of the house for a moment, pondering his strategy. He could try stealth, but if the elf were waiting for him, this would be of little use. Perhaps a surprise assault would serve him better. Legolas had most likely taken refuge behind the sizeable lilac bush, so he would aim his attack there.
Readying himself and his ammunition, Gimli burst around the corner with a mock battle cry, firing snowballs with lightning speed at the offending bush. Not waiting for a counter attack, he thundered straight on and giving a great leap, sailed right over the top of the lilac and into a deep drift with an impressive explosion of snow.
Sitting up and clearing the snow from his face, Gimli realized belatedly that he had not, as he had expected, landed on an elf. Then a sudden voice coming from behind nearly made him jump out of his boots.
"Gimli, what are you doing?" Legolas was standing casually in the kitchen doorway, drinking from a mug whose contents steamed in the cold air. His expression was innocently curious, but his eyes snapped with merriment.
Gimli glowered in embarrassed surprise. He had the sneaking suspicion that the infuriating elf had been watching and laughing at him the entire time. "I'm… I… I was…what are *you* doing?" he finally got out in exasperation.
Legolas shrugged. "I came in to get my breakfast. Then I saw your rather impressive… storming of the lilac bush. What did you think I was doing?"
His cheeky grin was quickly erased as a snowball exploded in his face, and with a roar, he was jerked out of the doorway and into a deep snowdrift by an enraged dwarf.
Cackling wildly, he managed to throw Gimli off and make it around to the other side of the house before he was tackled once more and sat upon. Gimli silenced his laughing pleas for mercy with a dollop of snow in the face, then proceeded to demonstrate what happens to an elf who dares to mock a dwarf.
Gimli paused in his task of stuffing handfuls of snow down the protesting elf's collar as his eye caught sight of something standing by the house that hadn't been there before.
"What, in Aulë's name, is *that*?
Legolas sat up, brushing the snow from his face. "*That* is a snow dwarf," he replied brightly, then grimaced a little as he attempted to dig the snow out from around his neck.
Gimli gave him a sidelong look, then pushed him abruptly back down into the snow as he got up to make a closer inspection.
It was indeed a snow dwarf. The figure was about Gimli's height and very sturdily built, made from three balls of snow of decreasing size set one on top of the other. Crude features had been formed in the snow for the face--Gimli could make out a pair of deep set eyes, a rather lumpy nose and indications of a full beard and moustache spilling down the figure's chest. A stubby arm stuck out awkwardly from one side, and clutched in the snowy fist was one of Gimli's throwing axes. And there was his helm as well, set jauntily upon its head. The elf must have purloined both items when he came back into the house while Gimli was cooking breakfast.
He paced around the figure, frowning and stroking his beard thoughtfully, then looked over to meet the elf's smiling look of anticipation.
"I think, my friend, that you are a marginally better archer than you are a sculptor," he said solemnly, and dodged, laughing, as a snowball sailed past his head.
Much later, two snowy figures could now be seen standing in the growing darkness beside the small house. A tall gangly snow elf had been fashioned from many snowballs stacked one atop the other. One skinny arm held Legolas's bow straight out in front of it, and the feathered end of one of the elf's arrows was protruding from the figure's backside. The snow dwarf was much the same as it was before, except that one of Gimli's belt axes was now buried in its foot, and its mouth was hollowed out in a silent yell of pain.
They stood companionably together in the yellow light spilling from the kitchen window. The homey sounds of clinking dishes and cutlery came from inside, as well as voices raised in merry discourse. A sudden gust of wind shook the windows of the house, and sent a whirl of snow up around the two silent figures. Snatches of conversation could now be heard, through the rising note of the wind, as someone moved close to the steamy window.
"…will not leave my axes out there all night, surely…"
"…of course not, and my bow, neither, but they will be all right for a while longer… do not wish for our dear snow dwarf and elf to be defenseless…"
The voices faded into laughter as the speakers moved away again from the window. The snow began to fall harder, and the wind picked up again as another storm drew nigh, but the snug house stood strong and solid in the face of the coming winter gale. The weather would not be letting anyone depart the next day either, but there were none inside who would complain. Only the snow elf and dwarf would have to withstand the full brunt of the storm's fury, but they seemed unconcerned as they stood side by side, together in the darkness, surrounded by the whirling snow.
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Issue No.: 2.6
Site Last Updated: 11 May 2003