The smallest hobbit thought the trees were made of rock, and truly it seemed so, hard, ancient trunks grey green against the stoney ridge. Only the gleam of leaf and berry gave evidence of life. Elves had lived there once, long ago before Noldorin smiths and Dwarven were estranged, before the Ring. Gimli spoke roundabout of Narvi and Celebrimbor as we walked into the pale dawn.
In Hollin it seemed we had traded places. Where trees resembled rock, where the stones remembered Elves, not Dwarves, and the trees and grass were strangers to me, how could we still be strangers?
He invites me to accompany him, gravely as though I might refuse. He leads me through great trees to open glades then under trees again. I see his head rise, step lighten, so powerfully does this strange place work on him.
When I lag his swift glance holds merriment as I have not seen since Hollin, mockery without cruelty.
"Think you still these woods are perilous?"
"As the Lady is perilous, but I no longer fear her."
"You need no protection, then." His eyes dance though his face is serene.
I cannot but grin. "Oh, there are other dangers now."
This wood does not cheer him though he is not discomforted. He says he finds nothing evil at hand, only knowledge of past hurts and a deep wariness.
He says that he could love it, but as I might love a mountain, vast and unknowable.
He says it is so old that here he feels almost young again, and indeed he seems a thing bright and new, sitting straight backed against a misshapen trunk.
He says, "You may sleep better here," and holds his arm out for a moment. Grave again, he dares no smile as he waits for me.
When our path emerges from the silent wood the Dwarf's hands drop to his thighs. I turn to speak to him, glancing whence we came. "Look! I see eyes!" I cry. "We must go back!"
"Then put me down first!" Yet as I nudge Arod, Gimli's arms come round me and I feel his fear.
"So strange! We will never see their like again. Gimli, please!"
"Trees hate Dwarves. Put me down!" One arm loosens and I think he will slide off at the risk of his head.
"Legolas! Stay," calls Mithrandir.
I look once more, and cover Gimli's hand.
It is over, and we are both alive and whole. Our friends, too, though I long doubted as I rooted among terrible corpses for our smallest. It is pleasant now to walk together under the fair trees of Ithilien.
What will you do? and he is not asking of our return to the White City nor its rebuilding.
I will do as we have spoken, I say, but his ancient eyes know well my evasion.
A Dwarf drowning in the sweetness of trees may wonder how this came to pass, and whether it may come to good, and fear it.
The Elf would have stayed in Eressëa with his kin. But I had vowed to see the Lady, and to pay a Dwarf's homage to Mahal, and he would not let me wander Valinor alone. "For there are trees there," and his eyes danced.
Trees. Even in Mirkwood renewed they loomed, tolerating me no better than did the Elven-king. Here a Dwarf is strange but not hated.
So we walk together, from Eldamar to Aulë's mansions through Oromë's forests. Legolas makes songs, to remember everything, he says. For my beard is silver now and he will not come here again.
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.