2. The Eye of the Beholder
Frodo swallowed hard. Legolas had such a sad look on his strange face, Frodo was sure his feelings must be crushed. “Legolas… I, that is, we…uh… Legolas, I’m so sorry!” he blurted out at last.
The Elf cocked his head, confused. “Whatever for, Frodo?”
The Hobbit was miserable. The expression of confusion on the Elf’s face made him look even less intelligent – it wasn’t making this easy! “I’m sorry we’ve spoken so meanly about you, Legolas! We didn’t intend to be cruel, we just didn’t think! We know you can’t help it, and actually, we like you! We like you a lot!” Frodo hurriedly spoke, stumbling over his words.
“Cruel?” Legolas’ confusion deepened. “Whatever are you talking about?”
Now that he had finally gotten that off his chest, Frodo’s words came easier, and he was anxious to comfort the Elf, who he was sure must have been wounded by their unkind words about his obvious repulsiveness. Frodo patted the long, thin hand of the Elf reassuringly.
“Please don’t be upset, Legolas. We know it’s not your fault that you are so…well… Well, the important thing is, you’ve got a good heart! Nothing else matters and I hope we shall all be friends! We don’t really care that you are so…well…”
“Please!” Frodo cut him off. “Please, don’t be too hard on yourself. You really are not all that unattractive,” the Hobbit reassured him hastily, mistaking the Elf’s dumbfounded look for something else. “In fact, your features really are not all that bad. It’s just that you are so…so tall! And you are so thin, it makes you look really elongated, unwieldy really, and – oh, how uncomfortable that must be, you poor thing! But really, it’s not such a terrible thing to be so gangly. I’m sure your stature has many advantages! Such as… erm…” For the life of him, Frodo couldn’t think of anything nice to say about being so unnaturally tall.
“And the other things, well, they’re not all that bad!” Pippin piped up from behind Frodo, trying to support him. “It’s not so terrible you must bathe so often! I’m sure it helps keep that woodsy smell you have under control!”
“And your eating habits aren’t all that grotesque,” Sam said helpfully. “After all, anyone who picks at his food the way you do, just leaves more for the rest of us! Am I right?” He looked to his fellow Hobbits for confirmation.
“And there’s nothing really wrong with your hair,” said Merry warmly, also fearing he’d offended the Elf. “I mean, Men don’t have enough hair on their feet, either. And if everyone had curly hair, well, it wouldn’t seem so special, would it?” He grinned broadly at the excellent point he’d thought up right on the spot, though he pitied the poor Elf for his lank and lifeless locks.
“That’s right,” said Frodo. “True companions stand by one another, regardless of what they are or what they look like. We know you cannot help the way you are, but inside it all you are a good person and we wish to be friends. Please do not take to heart our unkind words earlier.”
Legolas was, to put it mildly, shocked speechless. They thought him ugly, and were trying to tell him it didn’t matter? Had they any idea how patronizing, how condescending they sounded!? He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. It wasn’t really their fault, he reminded himself. They were just poor simple country folk who didn’t know any better.
“My gentle Hobbits,” spoke the Elf a little frostily, “be assured I am not upset with you. I appreciate your willingness to generously overlook my…faults. I am happy to consider us friends.” He smiled warmly, though it took a great deal of effort. He was startled and a little hurt to discover that the Hobbits had held his un-Hobbitness against him. The Elf couldn’t quite get his mind around it. Legolas for his part had adored the sweet little simple-minded folk, and he loved them because of their differences, not despite them.
The Hobbits bowed politely to him and made their way back to their sleeping space to settle in for the day’s rest. Legolas shifted slightly when another companion made his way over and sat beside the Elf. “Amusing creatures, aren’t they?” said the Dwarf in his deep, melodious voice.
The Elf snorted. “But their hearts are good…even if their eyesight is a little poor!” He shook his head. “Do others really find me that ugly?” he asked Gimli, looking sideways at the Dwarf and arching a thin eyebrow.
Gimli stroked his full, luxurious beard as he answered. “Not ugly, really. Just different. You must admit, it takes a little getting used to.” He shrugged his muscular shoulders.
Personally, Gimli found the Elf’s stringy frame and wiry stature quite hideous, though he would never say such an unkind thing aloud. The Dwarf had actually surprised himself by coming to the Elf’s defense. Certainly he had no qualms about antagonizing Legolas for acting like an Elf, but he wasn’t going to cruelly make fun of him for looking like an Elf. The former could be helped, the latter could not. And in the end, despite his flighty ways and sometimes arrogant manners, the flimsy-looking Elf did have a good heart underneath it all, and that was what mattered.
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.