1. Of Grey
Yet tonight, while I carry the knowledge that Gandalf has returned to us, and the news that Merry and Pippin are safe, my mind falls into more toil than before. Gandalf is not as he was. He is now Gandalf the White, and try as I may, the name and the unearthly paleness displeases me.
Gandalf the Grey had been my friend. Gandalf, whose robes was the color of dusk, and always seemed to be covered in some grime.
Aragorn's snores nearby breaks me from my thoughts. I have never heard him snore before, but the toil of the past days has finally caught up with him. I roll to my side and let my face fall closer to the ground. I breathe in the richness of the wet soil and dig my fingers into the earth. I have been traveling on this land, on this quest, with increasing exertion. There is no solid rock beneath this land, just layers of clay not yet hardened by the passage of time. Sometimes I fear that it is because there is no rock beneath my feet that my steps fall with such difficulty; that instead of steadiness of rocks, my legs are sinking into the earth.
My fingers dig deeper in to the ground with little resistance, and I relish the dirt that clings on to my hand. Grey and brown and not white. But all I can think of is the whiteness...the robes, and the hair, even the damn horse is white. I roll to my other side, and I feel a sharp tug on my skull.
The root of the tree I had been trying to rest under had caught my hair. "Cursed plant!" Very carefully, I begin to untangle my hair from the tree.
"Can you not sleep, Master Dwarf?" Legolas's voice is soft. I look up. And faintly I see him on top of some branches.
"Your tree has snagged my hair," I tell him when I finally free my hair from the tree's long fingers.
"The tree belongs to no one but itself," Legolas answers, but I can hear the smile in his voice.
"So you say," I glance at Aragorn to see if we have waken him, but the man is too weary, and he did not stir in his sleep and continues to snore.
"What troubles you so?" Legolas asks.
"White," the word falls out of my mouth before I could give it thought.
A quiet sigh.
He thinks he understands, but I know he does not.
"Perhaps we will run in to Saruman, yet," Legolas shifts slightly in the tree and I can hear the leaves ruffle.
"Not him, Gandalf," I whisper. I do not want Gandalf to hear, but I wonder if anything in this world is truly hidden from Gandalf.
I consider the question. My first instinct had been to simply say that I dislike the color white, but that is not so. Lady Galadriel is clad in all white and yet I did not find it distasteful.
"He is not what he used be," I say finally.
"I do not think Gandalf has ever been of this world, Master Gimli."
Legolas is right. Even while Gandalf fought with us, even while dirt still clung to his robes, Gandalf was not of this world.
I sigh, "I am not accustomed to so little grey."
"I do not understand." Legolas shifts again and a few leaves falls and lands on me. Legolas must be bothered indeed if he is causing his tree to loose leaves.
I almost want to laugh. It is the first time I have heard an elf to admit that he does not comprehend. Then again, I have not been in the company of many elves.
"Sauron is black and red, and Gandalf and the elves are white and green—" I stop. My words are making little sense, even to me.
"Though the dwarfs do not fight wars against each other as men do," I start again, "there is always rivalry and sometimes ill will between the clans. We know our likes and dislikes, but we have never…"
Legolas waits. And I mull my words, "I have never felt the distinction between good and evil as sharply before."
"Is that not easier?"
"For an elf, perhaps," I say, but there is no bitterness in my voice. "All your long years, Master Elf, have you known anything besides beauty and tranquility and goodness?"
"I have known other evils of this world before this," Legolas say after a moment. Two more leaves fall over me.
"But what of greys? What of evil that resides within?" I ask. "For even to the lore of hobbits, the elves are beauty and peace, and the orcs are ugliness and war. But what of dwarfs and man? The dwarfs, and man, and even hobbits are made of earth and stone and water, and fire. We cannot be white or black."
Legolas does not answer and I do not press him. In truth, I had not known what had bothered me so about Gandalf's whiteness until now. When I had mourned him, I felt as I was mourning one of my clansman. One who had done great deeds, but one who had been mortal and one who had been grey... now it appears it was not so. Though the earth had touched Gandalf, it was but an illusion.
"I wish to learn of the greys," Legolas says after a long silence and leaps from his branches. He lands softly by me, and smiles at me. "Will you teach me?"
"I do not think it can be taught, my friend."
He lies down next to me, his golden hair mixing with the earth. "Then I shall just have to watch you vigilantly, Master Dwarf."
I smile and close my eyes.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.