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by Marie Noire
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: Written in response to a Shakespeare discussion on Axe and Bow, where a sort-of-challenge was put forth to write a Legolas/Gimli story with Shakespearean elements.
A/N: Written in response to a Shakespeare discussion on Axe and Box, where a sort-of-challenge was put forth to write a Legolas/Gimli story with Shakespearean elements. In this case, Legolas' dialogue is written in the style is Shakespeare... plus I also used the old idea of a play-within-a-play (or story-within-a- story).
Also... does anyone want to continue this story into actual love-
making? I;m not sure I can keep the language on Legolas' part
through that, but I would dearly love to read it. Oakenshield?
Gimli groaned softly as he heard Legolas shift in the darkness of Khazad-Dum. It was the Elf's turn at night watch; 'watch' being an inappropriate word since no one, not even the keen-eyed Elf could se anything in the inky blackness. Hence, it was more of a 'listen' than a 'watch' on any account. In Legolas' case, it would not even be that since the Elf had the rather deplorable habit of singing to himself when bored.
Certain as the sun, Gimli soon heard the distinctive whisper-singing of his Elven companion. The song was in one of the forms of Elvish (Gimli could never tell which) as usual, a tongue that Gimli knew not nor desired to learn under general circumstances. However, in this particular instance, the Dwarf found himself intrigued. Legolas' songs were usually gay to the point of frivolity (and often beyond), so light of heart that one half-expected to see silver notes flitting about with song sparrows and hummingbirds. It seemed nothing short of an appearance from the Dark Lord himself could faze the son of Thranduil. If he was not singing, he was laughing. If he was not laughing, he was playing with the Halflings. In his more uncharitable moments (which were long and often of late), Gimli thought that this millennia-old creature behaved like an entirely-too- tall, bright-eyed brat. A child on holiday rather than a warrior on a probably-suicidal quest.
But now, the Elf's song was wistful and full of longing so potent that it very nearly wailed its vulnerability... like the soft moans of the doves that they had heard a few evenings prior. 'Twas the Elf who had explained to the Halfings the bird's poetic name among Men and Elves. It was a somewhat small, pinkish-grey bird, unremarkable in appearance and preyed upon by nearly everything from little foxes to great bears.
The Elven legend went that upon some ancient time, one of these nondescript birds fell in love with a splendid flower, a rose with petals as white as clean snow, delicately veined in silver. But the poor bird had no such beauty to the eyes, only his voice... for his song was reputed to rival that of the celebrated nightingales of the Northern realms. So hidden in the shiny, green leaves, the dove sang to the rose with all of his might. The sound of his voice made the rose tremble, petals vibrating with pleasure, certain that his voice was gift without equal. But still, the rose remained closed to the poor dove, for flower and bird were two species never meant to mate. The steadfast bird refused to give up, perching as close to those whisper-soft petals as he could get, trying to caress them with his wings. Day by sweet day, night by soft night, the rose's resolve wavered and buckled, thorns drawing away to allow the dove closer. Love would not be denied by any divine mandate, and from the union of the singing dove and the white rose was born the red rose, which Middle Earth was never meant to know. The Valar were furious and set out to cast both flower and bird aside. The white rose was wiped from the wilds and could henceforth only grow tame and obedient in tended gardens, where all birds are chased away. The poor dove was cursed never to sing happily again; his song and the songs of all his kin would only sigh and lament the sin of their brother. This was the reason, so said the Elf, that one could never find white roses in the wild. And why that particular bird was called "nallielaew" in the Elvish tongue and "mourning dove" in the many tongues of Men.
The Halflings had listened to the story with wide, wondrous eyes, for Legolas was a skilled story-teller. Little Samwise had wiped his sleeve over his face, sniffled, and said something to the effect of wanting to plant white roses the second he found himself back in Hobbiton.
Now Gimli lay on a bed of stone in Moria, listening to this whisper song of Legolas', finding himself inclined to listen rather than admonish the Elf for disturbing his rest. It seemed both long and short, this sweetly-yearning song. The single notes quavered and flowed like thick cream, slow to change tone or pitch. Each sound that issued from the Elf's pale lips was so achingly beautiful, so gentle at wrapping around the Dwarf's seldom-used heartstrings that he found himself catching his breath when notes did change.
Legolas' song slowly drew to a close, the silence that followed it weighing heavily on the Dwarf. He grumbled and shifted, unnerved. He could not sleep while the Elf sang, afraid he might miss something. Nor could he sleep when the Elf was silent, for then the darkness seemed all the more threatening without an Elven voice to gentle it. Gimli sighed and sat up, peering in the direction he knew the Elf to be.
"Run out of songs already, king's son? I thought your kind had better memories than that." he called, his voice sounding strangely low and rough after listening to Legolas for so long.
"Nay, I hath many more songs in my mind, Master Dwarf." the Elf replied in his usual, flowing speech. "I couldst sing a personal song to each star in the Lady Elbereth's creation and still possess hundreds yet unsung. Ai, though my heart is heavy tonight... my nimble soul fettered by darkness and stone, by chains of woe."
"Why?" Gimli asked a little bitterly. "Moria is dark and foreboding now, but then so was that wretched mountain. You have lost no kin here. I am vaguely surprised that you are not secretly glad for this decreased number in the Dwarf population."
"An ill-favour thou hast given me, Master Dwarf!" Legolas exclaimed in a wounded tone. "I seek no quarrel with thee or thy people, no matter what my liege-lord hast done in days past."
Gimli's abashed silence was his version of an apology.
Legolas sighed. "Yet I cannot find it in my heart to hold the discord against thee. My father's sins are many, much though I loathe to admit it even to fair-minded air. Thou hast no goodly reason to trust an Elf of Mirkwood... and more reasons not to."
Gimli blinked, never expecting any Elf to carry guilt, let alone a high-borne prince. All Elves seemed to be born haughty, those born to royal courts even more so. Legolas, he realized suddenly, rarely behaved like a prince. He was more of a wandering minstrel with a sweet voice and a singing bowstring rather than a fiddle.
"Twas no fault of yours, Master Elf. You are Thranduil's youngest son, you have no say in what he does or does not do."
He could hear Legolas sigh. "My thanks to you, Gimli son of Gloin. I hath often wondered if thou felt me as hard-handed as my sire. We Elves, Fair Folk though we may be, must look to thee as one snowflake to another, cold and indistinguishable... smooth faces and pointed ears... golden-haired or black.
"You are silver." Gimli said simply, eyes barely picking out the outline of the Elf's form in the darkness, a slight glimmer of Elven skin.
Legolas paused, his breath catching. "Aye... my hair is moonlight, not sunlight... so I hath been told on fortuitous occurrences." he said softly.
"Starlight." Gimli sighed. "You glow as a distant star... ungovernable... untouchable."
Legolas could feel the maidenly rush of blood to his fair cheeks and glad he was for the darkness' kind cloak. The Dwarf whom he found so fascinating had barely said five words to him, usually in the form of vehement requests to shut his mouth. Now this Child of Durin seemed more inclined to converse, even if the Dwarven side of the formalities seemed clipped and stunted to the Elf's ear. Yet charming this change was in its own way, much like the Dwarf himself. For once, Thranduil's son had no prepared reply for a compliment.
"I will... avail thee with another song, if thou wishes." he said softly hopping Gimli would allow it.
"I wish it." replied the Dwarf.
Legolas smiled in the darkness, eyes brightening. He sang, ai, he sang almost timidly, as a newly-staged performer before an unruly audience. But within the willowy Elf was a slender core of steel. He would not falter like a callow Elfling at his first kiss; he would sing as no Elf had sung before for kith or kin. he would be as that loyal dove, beating his little heart against sharp thorns to add blood-sweetness to his voice.
Song was always a passion for the Elves, more so for the third son of a King, neither the heir not the spare as the saying went. His eldest brother demanded most of Thranduil's time and attention. The next younger was the scholar and diplomat, claiming his mother's favour. Little Legolas had been left in the capable hands of tutors, those who taught so-called lesser matters; art, history, music. Ai, but he had not minded. Music was something that would never abandon him. True, his parents and brothers were cordial to him, asked about his activities of the day and pretended to listen... but being treated like an honoured stranger at his own table wore thing quickly, like an over-washed sheet. There were times when Legolas wished he'd been born the son of a minstrel rather than a king. His tutors were his family, just by a different set of bloodlines. They were the only ones who paid him any mind, even when his brothers attended lessons as well. And their devotion to him paid off in a grand fashion; Legolas was well-known in Mirkwood for his sweet voice. He outshone minstrels from far and wide with his pure tones and effortless trills. There were few songs he did not know by heart and new songs he needed only to look at written music for a moment to know it perfectly. His teachers called him a prodigy, listeners called him a gift... Thranduil called him Legolas if he remembered quickly enough. It stung, but Legolas had grown familiar with the chill in his heart that left only when he sang.
He let his thoughts wander not as he sang for Gimli, though wandering was their typical habit. He focused on his beloved duty, inexplicably wanting to sound perfect for his Dwarven companion. The song, a fairly simple ballad, was melancholy without being a lament. It hoped and prayed for a lover's return from battle. Looking back, Legolas had always liked to think that this was one of the songs the nallielaew sang to his beloved rose.
Somehow, it felt right to be singing it now. He had wanted Gimli to notice him and had been beyond perplexed when the Dwarf had grumbled about his singing. None before had ever been less than enchanted by his songs... it had certainly worked on the Halflings and the Gondorian. Aragorn was familiar with the prince's voice, but in this case familiarity did not breed contempt. Only Gimli had complained... and. for whatever reason, that only made Legolas more determined to impress his surly companion.
Gimli found himself trembling by the time Legolas song drew to a close and was very glad the Elf could not see him. "A pretty thing." he commented after a moment. "Do all Elves have such voices?"
Legolas flushed a little. "Nay, though it seems boastful for me to say so." he said quietly, heart beating against his ribs like a caged bird. "I have studied music since I was a small Elfling in a tail. It kept me from my liege-lord's path."
"You keep calling him your liege-lord." Gimli noted.
Legolas nodded a little darkly. "Thranduil wouldst not be reminded that he hath three sons. I am the youngest of his line and therefore cast aside... as I serve no purpose."
"No purpose?" Gimli repeated. "How can any child be considered Unnecessary?"
"Thranduil hath his heir and another in line should something happen to the first. Another after that is redundant." Legolas shrugged, feigning indifference to this old hurt.
Gimli surprised Legolas by growling. "He should be thankful for all of his children, the youngest in particular."
Legolas looked up, blue eyes curious. "How is that, Master Dwarf? The youngest child is not the heir. I bring him no glory, no wealth, no prestige... and he can gain nothing by marrying me off."
"You are his youngest child... the 'babe' of the family, his last progeny. More importantly, his blood runs through your veins, as does the blood of your mother." Gimli pointed out. "If he loves your mother, then he should remember that."
"He does love my mother." Legolas sighed. "But, alas... neither of them wanted a third son. I believe my mother's heart grieved that I was not the daughter she yearned for."
Gimli blinked, understanding the importance of girl-children at least. Grimly he said. "My father has seven sons, of which I am the eldest... but he loves all of us. Granted, my one sister is dearest to his heart, but none of us want for affection."
Legolas smiled softly. "Thy voice goes soft when thou speakest of home and hearth. Would that my world were as warm as yours. But alas, we Elves are cool, even to our own by comparison. Mayhap I should have been born, not only a maiden, but a Dwarf as well."
Gimli laughed outright at that. "You would make a very strange- looking she-Dwarf, Legolas... even if you did manage to grow a beard."
Legolas' eyes widened. "Even females of the Naugrim grow lengthy beards? Ai, I learneth a thing of new import every day with thee!"
Gimli shrugged, though he was oddly pleased by the Elf's surprise. "Aye, we are even then. I did not know that Elves could warble like sparrows."
"Yes, even." Legolas said softly. "Think thou that I am like a bird? I do not fly or nest in trees? Wherefore, then, do you think me a bird?"
Gimli considered his answer. "You sing as one... just as sweetly. And though you yourself cannot fly, your voice soars and glides like a bird. As for nesting in trees, do not all Elves live in forests?"
Legolas flushed at the compliment before answering. "My people never wander far from their beloved trees, this is true... but we sylvan Elves live in caverns under a hill, for protection from the evils of Dol Guldor. Not since my home has boasted the name of Greenwood have we safely lived in trees."
"You are a thrush then." Gimli said quietly. "A bird that hides by burrowing in brush and sings only at night."
"Nay... I am a dove." Legolas whispered, boldly reaching a slim hand out in the direction of Gimli's voice, unable to resist the deep lure. He wanted to touch and taste, trembled with need as the morning dove had. Tremulously, the Elf began to sing again, his voice shaking as he rested a hand on the Dwarf's broad shoulder. His heart ached and bled as though a sharp thorn had lodged itself within the beating muscle, almost bringing tears to his eyes.
Gimli held his breath, both because of the beauty of Legolas' voice and because of the fair hand on his shoulder, sending rivulets of pleasure through his sturdy frame. If possible, the Elf's song seemed infused with desperate need, longing so acute that Gimli found himself leaning closer, wanting to touch and hold.
Legolas' song faltered only slightly when Gimli's hand brushed his cheek on its way to stroke the bright, blonde hair. He paused. "Art thou open for me, friend Dwarf?" he whispered breathlessly.
"I am." Gimli replied in a husky voice. "Little dove."
Legolas smiled at the endearment, stooping his posture to press his forehead to Gimli's. "My song has opened thee... and thou hast called me a dove. Dost that make thee a white rose?"
"I suppose it does." Gimli returned with gruff affection. "Though if you ever call me that in front of the others, I will cleave your pretty head off."
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Issue No: 2.4
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