Dwarves and Elves
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When You Are With Me: 7. Renewal
As he looked forth he saw the eastern sky grow pale. Then he raised his
empty hand, palm outward in token of parley.
The orcs yelled and jeered. "Come down! Come down!" they cried. "If you
wish to speak to us, come down! Bring out your king! We are the fighting
Uruk-hai. We will fetch him from his hole, if he does not come. Bring out
your skulking king!"
"The king stays or comes at his will," said Aragorn.
"Then what are you doing here?" they answered. "Why do you look out? Do
you wish to see the greatness of our army? We are the fighting Uruk-hai."
"I wait for the dawn," said Aragorn.
"What of the dawn?" they jeered. "We do not stop the fight for night or
day. We come to kill, by sun or moon. What of the dawn?"
"None knows what the new day shall bring him," said Aragorn. "Get you
gone, ere it turn to your evil."
He leapt down from the wall, and the orcs laughed with loud voices. A hail
of darts and arrows whistled through the air behind him, mocking him.
"The end will not be long," said Theoden as Aragorn strode into the
Citadel. "But I will not end here, taken like an old badger in a trap. I
will bid men sound Helm's horn at dawn, and I will ride forth. Will you
ride with me then, son of Arathorn? Maybe we shall cleave a road, or make
such an end as will be worth a song - if any be left to sing of us
"I will ride with you," said Aragorn.
Taking his leave of the king, he returned to the walls and passed round,
rallying the men, lending aid wherever the assault was hot. Blasts of fire
leaped up from below shaking the stones. Grappling hooks were hurled, and
ladders raised. Again and again the orcs gained the summit of the second
wall, and again the Riders cast them down.
Aragorn leaned on his sword, surveying their defenses. This night seemed
to last forever. He looked at the pale stars, and at the moon, now sloping
behind the western hills that enclosed the valley. He watched the men of
the Mark marshal their strength, weary and downhearted, but still with
heads high and swords raised. Pride swelled within him, even as he sighed
for them all. And always, his eyes swept the battlefield for a glimpse of
a flashing battleaxe or the glint of an elven bowstring.
There had been no sign of Gimli or Legolas when he had returned to the
Citadel. The last he had seen of them, they were upon the defenses at the
Deeping Wall. The men who were there who had escaped Saruman's hellfire
and the fierce fighting at the culvert could tell him nothing certain as to
the fate of his two companions, and he only hoped they had managed to keep
together and had fled to the caves. His heart was heavy, but there was
work to be done and he could not afford to let his appearance betray his
"This is a night as long as years," Aragorn said softly. "How long will
the day tarry?"
"Dawn is not far off," said Gamling, who had now climbed up beside him.
"But dawn will not help us , I fear.
"Yet dawn is ever the hope of men.," said Aragorn. His shoulders lifted
and his eyes grew hard. "We will make them rue the light, Uruk-hai or no.
Come! Let us see to the preparations."
Legolas awoke. He remained still for a moment, recalling where he was,
letting his dreams melt away to reality. He rose quietly, extricating
himself from Gimli's arms without waking the dwarf. He tentatively took a
few steps, testing himself, feeling still a great weakness he had not known
before, and a strange heaviness of heart, but to his relief, no pain. He
swiftly dressed, taking a draught from the store of water, then walked
noiselessly to Gimli's side to sit cross-legged by him.
With nimble fingers, he tickled the dwarf's beard. Gimli stirred and moved
his hand to ward away the unwelcome intrusion into his sleep. Legolas
smiled and studied his friend as he slumbered.
Gimli's face was peaceful. The elf absorbed the details of every line in
the scarred and weathered face, the thick brown hair, the heavy brow, the
long beard. Not fair, the elf thought. A face that had seen too many dark
caves, too many sorrows, too many battles, and all the hardships mortals
bore. But it was a profoundly comforting face and good. There was a
strength there that touched the elf's soul.
Then with great deliberateness, Legolas tipped the cup in his hand and
emptied what was left of the water over the dwarf.
Gimli came to with a sputter and shout. He sat upright with an outraged
expression, and his eyes fell upon the elf. Legolas had thrown himself
backwards and stood at a safe distance laughing merrily, quite aware of the
peril of a rudely awakened dwarf with an axe within reach. "Good morning,
Gimli. The sun has not yet fully graced the sky, but I did not think you
would want to miss the fun the dawn may bring." The earth trembled beneath
them as if in response and a thunderous blast echoed in the distance.
The dwarf cursed and shook himself from sleep, casting disgruntled looks at
his friend. "It seems you're feeling in better spirits this morning."
"Much better." Legolas gave a slight, mocking bow.
"I am very glad to see you on your legs again, but I would ask that you let
a dwarf fully awaken before plaguing him with an overabundance of elven
cheerfulness," he grumbled. He yawned mightily, and reached for his
clothes and armor.
Legolas clasped his cloak over his shoulders, tucking his knife into its
sheath, moving slower than was his wont, but steadily. Gimli shrugged his
chain mail over his shirt and tugged his boots on his feet. He gingerly
fit his helm over his head, trying not to aggravate his wound. He fetched
his battleaxe from the corner, and also Legolas's bow and quiver. He
approached the elf.
"Have you recovered, Legolas?" he asked seriously. "Do not play games.
Are you truly well?" He felt somewhat awkward, faced with Legolas standing
before him, his bright eyes sparkling as if he had never suffered, as if
last night were but a fading dream. But still there lingered a weariness
about the elf's shoulders and upon his face.
Legolas sat upon the storage chest before the door. He took his bow from
Gimli's hand, then strapped his quiver of arrows to his back. He watched
Gimli, noticing the slight flush that had risen to the dwarf's rough face
and his concentrated efforts not to look directly at the elf. Legolas
paused with a disapproving frown. Then he stood and retrieved Gimli's
cloak from the pallet on the floor, shaking the dust from it. He swept to
the dwarf's side and hurled it over his companion's shoulders.
He knelt before him and delicately fastened the leaf brooch at Gimli's
throat. He looked up, forcing Gimli to reluctantly meet his gaze.
"Do not doubt, beloved." Legolas smiled gently. He lifted the dwarf's hand
to pressed it to his forehead, then to his lips. "I know not what today
might bring for us, whether it be death or darkness or light and triumph,
but if you will have it, my heart is yours, Gimli."
Gimli looked downcast. He closed his eyes as if steeling himself, and when
he spoke it was with a heavy voice. "I cannot ask it of you, Legolas. I
will not. I will not bind you to me."
He couldn't look at the elf, couldn't bear to see those penetrating eyes
before him, but he heard Legolas draw in a deep breath, and his stomach
clenched painfully. "You are beyond my grasp, Legolas, and I will not let
you pledge yourself to someone as I. Our differences are great. Love
between a mortal and immortal could come to naught but grief; we are not
meant to be. Nay, I will not let you. Do not ask me to do this."
There was silence for an uncomfortable instant , then Legolas rose to his
"You will not let me? It seems to me you have very little say in the
matter, Master Dwarf." Gimli jerked up his head, taken aback by Legolas's
suddenly commanding tone. The elf rose to stand before him, tall and
fearless, every inch an Elven Lord, and his pale face shone.
"You do yourself an injustice, Gimli son of Gloin. I threatened the Lord
Eomer when he would have insulted your honour and struck you down, and yet
now I am to stand by and allow you to disparage yourself? Do you think I
would pledge myself to anyone but the worthiest of friends, the bravest of
comrades, the brightest soul I have ever known? And yet you would belittle
he whom I love more dearly than my life, and would deny me the happiness of
standing by his side, to share his sorrows and his triumphs as if they were
my own." The elf lifted his chin willfully and in a stern voice said, "I
will not give you up that easily, Gimli, to the doubts that complicate your
mind. Set aside your pride and misgivings, child of Durin. I have not yet
known a dwarf to lack courage."
Gimli's dark eyes blazed. He drew himself up and made to speak, but
Legolas cut him off. "If you refuse me, that is your choice and I shall
leave you. But you make that choice out of fear and uncertainty and
"Enough!" Gimli barked.
"Does the truth of the matter upset you?" Legolas demanded. "For I speak
naught but the truth, lest it be you truly do not care for me and my heart
means nothing to you. If so, speak it! I shall leave this place and find
death upon the battlefield, if that be my fate."
Gimli stepped forward, shaking with emotion, and stood before the elf.
Legolas remained still and unwavering, his expression defiant, as if daring
Gimli to strike him. Gimli struggled for a moment, hands clenched into
fists, and then he cast his helm from his head to the floor with a smash.
They stood silently staring at one another for a long moment. And then
Gimli snorted and shook his head.
His mouth twitched, then the dwarf roared with laughter. "Master Elf, at
the very least, my life is not dull when you are with me." He tossed a
surly glance at Legolas and then turned to retrieve his helm, plunking it
back on his head. "Very well then! We are not given to know our destiny,
nor what paths our feet must travel, or who we may meet along the way. I
have been given companions upon this journey who have become dearer to me
than I should ever have guessed they would when we set out from Rivendell.
And you, it seems, Legolas, will be either the life or the death of me. So
be it! Though you may come to find it a cruel jest that you are bound to
one such as I."
He lifted his head slowly and somberly looked up at the elf. "I will grow
old, Legolas," he said. "I will age, and though my life is not as brief as
these men around us, you will still be young and fair when my time has come
to leave this earth. Would you be as passionate about your devotion to me
even then? Even as you walk the lands still in your prime, bound to a
dwarf in his dotage, decrepit in body and mumbling nonsense?"
Legolas arched a delicate eyebrow. "Moreso than you do now? That would be
a marvel indeed," he quipped.
Swift and sure, he stepped to Gimli and knelt once more before him. He
traced the deep lines running from the edge of Gimli's eyes with light
fingers, admiring his weathered face, then bent close and kissed him.
"With my heart and my soul, I choose you, Gimli. Will you deny me?"
Gimli swallowed, then answered gruffly. "The Valar protect me from elves
and their blasted persistence. I cannot deny you, Legolas." He took the
elf's hand in his, and held it to his heart. "I am and always shall be
Legolas laughed merrily, blinking back tears. Then he sprang away and swept
up his bow. He donned his silver helm and nodded. "Come, Gloin's son.
The morning awaits, and we have a game to see to its finish. I feel a
little more up to the challenge this day. At this moment, in truth, I
believe I could face the forces of Saruman alone and triumph."
Gimli shouldered his axe and pack. "I have no doubt you could, Master Elf,
but if you would not mind the company, I think I should rather benefit from
trying my axe on a few more orc necks myself. Leave us go. If we tarry
longer we will arrive too late and miss the excitement. Let us see what
trouble Aragorn has managed to get into without us."
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