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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.
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Summary: Just before the Battle of Helm's Deep there were two who knew what it was to stand upon the Deeping Wall.
A/N: Notes: For those of you who love your Legolas/Gimli canon, you should be able to place this in the proper context.
Thank You!: To Rawly, for the betaàand for knowing that Legolas and Gimli are yummy. And how!
Unobserved, high upon a wall of good stone, sat an Elf and a Dwarf together. They spoke and did not speak, were wearied but buoyed by the company they kept. In near-by elsewheres the host of Isengard marched and the people of Rohan gathered their courage, mustering what defenses they were able. Farther afield, Hobbits traveled in lands unknown to their kind and White wizards rode as though upon wind. Many things might the Elf and Dwarf have done, but they, the only of their kind at that place, were content to be unwatched the one with the other.
There was between them a silence of good friends and better caring. Within this peace each guided a whetstone over the edges of his weapons, for both Elf and Dwarf were in the habit of keeping something sharp and useful with them at all times. Tonight they would be needed. They worked in the light of torches and to the sound of a host approaching. It was long before either one spoke.
“Think you, Legolas, that we will last out the night?” asked Gimli. He laid aside the blade that was finished and regarded his companion with searching eyes.
Legolas, for his part, did not look up from his task. “We must, or die in the attempt.”
At this Gimli snorted. “An Elvish answer,” he rumbled. He watched the busy Elf and his eyes went unmet. At length he stood and sang:
Sung for ever in halls of old Toasted high in goblets gold Tales of Durin’s children’s’ might And of fair deeds worked in foul night
Long do the lines of Seven mourn Thus the burdens of Dwarves are borne With honor for those lost and gone Carried in hearts and deeds and song.
The words fell away into silence as though the heaviness of many hearts had rested upon them. There was a pride and fierceness to them, despite their sadness, and it stirred Legolas’ heart. “I will not sing more of it,” Gimli said. “There are many customs that must accompany it and I have neither heart nor time for them.”
“I would that I had heard you sing of glad things and in happier times,” said Legolas and now his work was laid aside. He sat upon the breastwork of the wall, in the cleft between two parapets, and so was able to meet the eyes of the Dwarf squarely. He did not attempt to cover the concern that was in his gaze, “But I have not heard you sing thus since Khazad-dûm.”
“You may call it Moria, my friend; for we have both seen with our own eyes that it is so. A black pit is the Dwarrowdelf and never again shall a Dwarf walk there and find it beautiful. Never until Durin wakes once more,” and it was clear that Gimli’s heart was weighted.
“It troubles you greatly,” said Legolas and he laid a hand upon Gimli’s shoulder. “Will you speak of it?”
Gimli nodded his head and moved to lean his arms upon the stone where Legolas sat. “I will.” His sigh upon the night air spoke what his words did not; that he drew much comfort from the heat of his friend, who did not move back. “Though your aim is off in this darkness, Master Archer; the loss of Durin’s halls is an old grief to the Dwarves. I think of my kinsmen. Of all my people I have heard only my voice raised for them and there is none who knows their tale fully. Even in the face of all their efforts, the songs to them shall not be of glory or of boldness. Rather they will be laments and warnings as sad as any Elvish legend.”
“You fear the same for yourself,” said Legolas. The lowering of Gimli’s head proved that this time his aim had been true.
“To be lost, forgotten to my folk, that is my only fear that is for myself,” Gimli answered. “Though there might be many more if we triumph here tonight.” Placing his hand upon the arm holding his shoulder, the solitary Dwarf once more met the gaze of the Elf. “I have trusted it to you, for I love you and know you will keep it for me.”
Legolas was moved and made this vow, “If you fall this night, friend Gimli, my people shall sing always of your deeds, of your stoutness and bravery. Moreover, you are one that I love and I would not let your memory become an echo.”
“Who would hear your songs? Your people fade to the West, Legolas, and these shores shall lack for their fairness.”
“As Lady Galadriel claimed, you speak fairly indeed!” Legolas said and turned to fully face his companion. His voice was light, for it was certain that his friend was comforted and lightened by his pledge. “If the songs of the Elves will not serve then mayhap the songs of Men will be your comfort? For Aragorn would sing greatly of you and the Horse Lords are honorable and would not forget their debt to you.”
A smile of amusement was then on the lips of Gimli and he laughed quietly and with true contentment.
An answering smile tipped Legolas’ lips, though he knew not the joke, for the people of the wood are glad of heart and it takes little to bring their joy forth. “Speak, my good Dwarf. What amuses you so?”
“I would not have my tale corrupted by an Elf who cannot count.”
Legolas drew himself up in shock and indignation. “Cannot count?” he cried in a voice that bespoke great insult, for he was well learned by the standards of his people.
“Blind, too,” said Gimli sadly and he patted the arm he held as though he were in great sorrow.
“Blind?” repeated Legolas and he sounded deeply mystified, “My dear Gimli, you have been struck mad by your fears.” But there was no heat of insult to his words and both smiled. Any who knew them would have recognized this custom of trading blandishments as a game between them; it had passed the long rides and marches for many, though few listened closely enough to hear that in those tones and teases the Elf and the Dwarf said much that other ears did not discern.
“Aye,” Gimli sighed deeply. “Valiant though he is, and with a heart to match any Dwarf, he cannot see what is plainly clear; that we two are alone atop the wall and neither Aragorn nor the men of the Mark are here to see a Dwarf’s glory. Alas, poor Elf, he is quite simple even amongst his kind and shows it all too clearly when he tries to be wise or witty or helpful.”
Legolas folded his arms and looked as regal as he was able within his dusty traveling clothes and sturdy armor, arrayed with his wicked armaments. “To be sure, it seems he may not open his mouth without being proved a fool.”
“True indeed, my friend. But he is passable company.” In the darkness Gimli’s eyes shone with a merriment that was a mirror to the eyes of Legolas.
“But this is good, for then he is an excellent companion for a mad Dwarf, is he not?”
There was no ready comeback, so neatly had the Elf trapped him with his words that with a shout of laughter Gimli relented the game to Legolas. “It seems I cannot yet best you in a contest of words.”
“No, it seems you cannot,” Legolas returned his hand to Gimli’s shoulder and knew it to be as sturdy as the wall upon which they stood. “Perhaps you should try again in the morning.”
“I shall,” was his answer. “But there is long to go before the dawn and I would have a victory to my name before that time. A game of another type, my dear Legolas?”
Satisfied to linger upon the wall, as it was well apart from the soldiers and the noise of preparations, Legolas pondered the matter before him with great care. “It cannot be weapons,” he said after a time. “I doubt not we would be mistaken for fell company in this gloom.”
“You are afraid of my axes,” Gimli stated. He stepped back and brought forth the throwing axes he wore at his side; these he moved from hand to hand in a dance of grace and speed that matched any Elf. “For they were forged by my cousin, shaped by my father, and honed by my own hand. You know you could not stand against them.”
Legolas had seen before the Dwarf’s dexterity with his weapons but marveled at it still and he bowed slightly where he sat. “That might be so, if I did not know that I am too dear to you for you to bring me harm; you would not be without my bow to guard your back.”
Gimli conceded this with a nod and returned his arms to their places. “You know me well, for I would not be without your weapons at my back or their wielder at my side. What then?”
Again there came silence and both looked out onto the vale at the army that pressed forward. With raised eyebrows, Gimli appraised the sight and then he caught the eye of his companion. He gestured broadly to the field before them, “What say you, Master Elf?”
“That we shall prove out our skills in counting, Master Dwarf, and you will eat your words when I count the higher score.”
“Orcs only; and you shall give your accounting first so that when you hear my tale you will not be driven to adding the wild men to your tally.”
They debated some several minutes, for while both agreed to the first point of the game, Legolas, on the second point, did insist on Gimli’s numbers to be given first, for the same reason which Gimli had employed. Only the closing forces of the enemy made them agree that they might each tell Aragorn their tales, separately, and so have his good word on their outcome.
Legolas now came down from upon the wall and replaced his knives at his back, bringing to hand his bow as he did so. “I would have a prize for winning such a weighted contest.”
“A prize?” Gimli judged this thought with care. There would be no shame in losing to a great warrior or a great friend and the Elf was both. In truth, if any lived after this night he would be willing to give to Legolas any prize he wished, so glad would he be to see that one so dear had lived. “What would you ask of me, Legolas?”
Now was time for Legolas to consider for he had no ready request, perhaps having thought only of more banter with Gimli before the battle set to and naught of prizes. He did not think long; in quiet watches he had searched his heart many times and knew well what was within and he said as much before he named his request. “Though it is not as fair as the Lady’s wood, I would have you come to Mirkwood with me and see the springtime in Elvish lands and there I would name you Elf-friend before the court of my father.”
“A costly prize!” chuckled Gimli. “He would send me to his dungeons.”
“Nay,” Legolas laughed. “He would not do so.”
“He would,” countered Gimli readily. “He has long been known among my people to be of a mind to jail any lost wanderer and demand from them all details of their journey and task.”
Again Legolas laughed for Gimli’s eyes belied the earnestness of his voice. “Though you jest I have yet an answer for you; through the woodland realm you would come hand in hand with me and he would not wonder at your errand.”
“He would wonder much, about a great many things, at that. But I would go with you, my hand in yours, to the halls of your father if you so bid me.”
It was a great thing to be beholden to, spoken without hesitation, and Legolas clasped Gimli’s hands between his own. “You will come to love the trees, my friend, for my home has much beauty when it flowers. But what would you have me promise you? Though it shall not come to your possession, I would give you the chance to name your desire.”
“Happen it might, Legolas, for I have already noted that it is too dark for shooting; an axe may swing under sun, moon, or clouds. Give me a moment to think, for I would have exactly my desire from you.”
So Legolas remained with Gimli, their hands clasped together. When Gimli named his wish at last it was with the same voice that had confessed his fear, an entrusting of his heart to Legolas. “I would have a quiet room and a low fire to warm it. I would have food that is hot and unrushed and cold beer to accompany it. I would have you with me and together we would sit with our meal and our mead and beyond them both. We would exchange the stories of our people and our kin and ourselves for as long as we might wish to do so. We have had little time for such and it is a weary affair to want simple things and not have them.”
“A fair wish fairly spoken. I should like that too. Perhaps there will be a portion of time for it while we are in Mirkwood, though I fear we would talk until we were both withered and gray and therefore miss the coming of spring.”
But Gimli did not smile at this; from his face it was clear that, without intention, Legolas had pained his heart. “You will not wither,” he said softly. And then, more loudly, with good humor, “But I must shake off sleep if I am to best you by more than a narrow margin. I go,” he bowed and made to release the hands of the Elf.
Though he tried, he was not released. For in the space of an indrawn breath Legolas had closed his eyes and seemed far away from all things. He spoke and, though Gimli heard him, it was evident that the Elf words were for himself.
“Again and again I have measured my heart and yet I find in it a corner unexamined. To read it aches; it hurts as an immortal wound. I know but one way to assuage it. And I would.” When Legolas opened his eyes they were clear and showed a heart that was, to its depth, at ease. “I would,” he said again and only when it was clear that the Dwarf had understood plainly what he promised did Legolas allow Gimli to withdraw his hands from him. When he again spoke it was with lightness, “Go where you will, but do not tarry. The game will begin soon and I would not take an unfair advantage.”
Yet Gimli did not take his leave and so still were he and Legolas in their regard of each other that they were as statues upon the wall. “I would not have that,” was Gimli’s gruff breaking of that hush.
“I would give it,” Legolas answered, in a voice that was clear and sure and glad. “I cannot give you immortality, however hard I might try, unless it is my own.”
“Such a bitter choice I would not wish for you to make. If you were to insist on making it, I would fight you as I am able; even if it meant fastening you to your kindred with the ropes gifted us by the Galadrim.” Gimli lifted a hand to forestall words as Legolas’ mouth opened on either a protest or the bright laughter his smile promised. “Hush, for I already know that I have met in you my equal. Even in this we are matched.” In full dark and robbed of his sight Legolas would yet have seen the untainted happiness of Gimli’s heart, for it shone on his face like starlight. “If you would have mortality, I would give to you all of mine that is left.”
Many thoughts were in Legolas’ mind at this pronouncement and many more emotions bloomed within his heart, each crossing visibly over his face until at last he shook his head with a laugh, “It seems your Elvish tale-bearer is a fool undeniable. Here is not such a place as I would have chosen for this and our timing is ill. Shake off your sleep, my friend, and I will come clearly back to my senses. We shall put such things aside for the while; there are many uncertainties tonight and we have much yet to do before we may speak of this freely.”
There was truth beyond measure in those words for the host was upon them like a rising tide and there were others, beloved to both, in need of what hope and aid the Elf and the Dwarf could bring; yet neither moved from the wall on which they stood.
Unobserved by the eyes of all others were the two who stood upon the Deeping Wall but had any looked to them they would have set Gimli’s fear to rest, such was the sight they would have known; and worthy it would have been to be set down in ageless story and song. For even as they stood upon the Deeping Wall and made ready for battle, Legolas of the Elves bent and kissed Gimli the Dwarf and between the two there was no distance.
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Issue No.: 2.6
Site Last Updated: 11 May 2003