1. Chapter 1
Glóin sighed as he eased himself into a chair near his only child’s hearth. "I had heard of your accomplishments, yet I wished to see them for myself." His voice was deliberately soft in an attempt to blunt the glint of wariness he saw in the younger dwarf’s eyes.
He knew it was an inadequate explanation for this unannounced visit, but he was either unwilling or unable to admit to his son that he had missed him. The dwarf lord’s gaze cast around the cavernous room, then settled on Gimli with a smile. "It seems all I have heard is true. Aglarond is indeed a marvel."
His son did not smile back.
Glóin shook his head sadly. It seemed Gimli had not forgotten their last meeting. With a pang of regret, he remembered their sharp words to each other some ten years past.
"He is my friend." Gimli bowed his head, turning his eyes away from his father’s piercing regard.
"Your friend?" Glóin said, incredulously. "He is an elf!" He spat the last word like a curse as he shook his fist in the air. "And not just any elf, my son. His father…"
Gimli raised one hand in the air. The unexpected gesture immediately reduced Glóin’s tirade to a frothing sputter. Well his son knew of the elvenking’s past deeds! Glóin saw that it took some effort for Gimli to level his gaze at him once more. When he did, the dwarf lord also saw that his son’s eyes were now filled with an anger of his own and a contempt that shocked Glóin into silence.
After a long moment Gimli spoke, his voice cold. "Elf he may be," he said, "yet, he is my friend. Long we have traveled together and I will not have him take his rest in the woods outside our halls, even though he most likely would prefer it. If he is not welcome here, Father," he drew an uneven breath, "then neither am I."
Glóin remained frozen while his son left the hall. After a moment, he shook off his surprise and made to follow him. He stopped as he saw, through the still-open door, his son approach Legolas, who had been pacing impatiently outside. Glóin sadly marked the small pack that Gimli had reclaimed along with his axe.
The dwarf lord observed as the elf turned to Gimli and clearly took note of his traveling gear. "Has he cast you out then?" Glóin heard him ask. Legolas matched his stride to Gimli's and they began to move off down the passage.
Gimli’s derisive snort echoed back to his father. "Nay, I have cast myself out. I will not stay here, when he refuses to listen to all reason."
They were moving beyond Glóin's hearing. Unable to help himself and heedless as to what the guards outside his hall might think, Glóin followed them out into the passage.
"Stay." Gloin saw Legolas restrain the dwarf with a gentle squeeze of his shoulder. Gimli turned to face him. "I will go," the elf said seriously.
"Aye." Gimili nodded. "And I will go with you."
"No," Legolas said as he knelt down to look the dwarf in the eyes. "This is your home. He is your father."
"And what of your home and your father?"
Glóin heard Legolas sigh. "We had hoped to find a better greeting here, did we not?" The elf paused, dropping his hand from Gimli's shoulder. Glóin humpfed silently. 'So, the elvenking has no joy of this friendship either', he thought. Legolas continued, "I will return to Lasgalen, but only to gather those of my people who wish to settle in Ithilien. We will make a new life away from the old hurts." The elf brightened with a smile. "You – and all your people – will be welcome there."
"Think you that Thranduil will allow it?" Gimli asked. Legolas’s smile faded. His brow creased in a frown.
"I do not know."
"Then we are banished to the forest that lies between our lands, until we decide what is to be done."
"It seems so." The elf’s tone was resigned.
It was that same voice that now broke Gloin from his reverie.
"I have tended the flowers and mosses near the waterfall, but the room needs more light." The gardening tools Legolas carried clattered noisily as he deposited them on the floor near the entryway. The clay pot he carried followed, spilling some soil. Legolas scooped up the earth, replaced it and wiped his hands on his thighs.
He did not seem to mark the extra chair near the hearth, nor Glóin in it.
Glóin had spent enough – more than enough! – time with elves to know they were normally meticulous in their grooming. During his time in the elvenking’s halls he had grown weary of their perfect beauty and their shining, flowing robes. This elf, however, was clad in a plain tunic and leggings. A streak of dirt marred his cheek and his hair had worked is way loose of it’s usual confines, the errant strands stuck to his forehead by a sheen of sweat.
"Not much else will grow in there without sun," he continued, "and the stone benches need cleaning. There is algae on them." Legolas turned and his voice ceased abruptly at the sight of Gimli’s father.
The room filled with an uncomfortable silence.
"Father, I –" Gimli began. He cleared his throat. "Legolas is --," he started again.
Without any change in expression, Legolas placed his closed fist over his heart and bowed. "I take my leave."
Glóin gaped at the elf for a moment. As he turned to question his son, he saw the bright hurt renewed in his eyes.
"I would have you stay, Master Elf." Glóin’s voice, unused to delivering requests instead of commands, nearly broke.
Legolas paused. With a start, Gimli hastened across the room to hand his friend a cloth.
"Wipe your brow," Glóin heard his son whisper gruffly. The elf suppressed a smile, but did as Gimli bid him. "Your hands too!"
Legolas rolled his eyes. "I have been gardening. ‘Tis to be expected!"
"Yes, yes," Gimli muttered as he returned to the hearth, motioning for Legolas to follow.
As Glóin made an effort to regain his composure, the elf turned to him. Once again he bowed, yet this time he placed an open hand on his breast and intoned the familiar dwarvish greeting. "At your service. Forgive my interruption."
The dwarf lord regarded him with open surprise for a moment. He hesitated to return the greeting, yet the challenge in his son’s eyes bid him to. He sighed and placed a hand on his breast and nodded to the elf. "At your’s and your family’s," he said, though the last word cost him dearly. He looked around the room once more. "Perhaps it is I that should ask for forgiveness. I see elven craftsmanship here as well as dwarven. And I see you still befriend my son."
"May I see this waterfall of yours?"
The elf exchanged a look with Gimli that Glóin could not read, and then nodded.
"As you wish."
Legolas led the way as they wound through the tunnels. Glóin watched as the elf bent carefully to avoid bumping his head on the irregular surfaces on the roof and walls of the passageway. He chuckled to himself as he imagined the years of trial and painful error it must have taken Legolas to remember to mind his head in a place made for a much smaller race of people. Glóin’s thoughts were interrupted when they emerged from the confined shaft into a spacious cavern. He was filled with astonishment at what he saw.
A riot of flowers bloomed around the pool. Anything that would take to earth and grow in the faint light falling from an opening high above had been planted. Water lilies spread across the open areas of the underground pool and soft mosses covered the rocks near the edges. Dwarves gathered, some drinking ale and breaking bread, others sitting on the low stone benches, holding hands and speaking in whispers. Near the water’s edge Glóin saw an elf maid and a dwarf maid with their heads together enjoying some jest. In fact, each time he turned he spied another elf among the dwarves.
A dark-haired elf looked up, broke away from a small group of dwarves, and came towards them. Legolas excused himself and strode to meet him with a smile. Gloin stood amazed, as both elves were welcomed into the group with raised mugs and gruff greetings.
Laughter, soft and loud, echoed off the walls.
"’Tis beautiful." Glóin said quietly, as he continued to take in the scenes before him.
"’Twas his gift to me. To us." Gimli thumped his chest in unconcealed pride.
“A gift…” Glóin’s voice trailed off, uncertain if Gimli meant the garden or the friendship of the elves. Glóin bowed his head to hide the emotion in his eyes. “He is your friend." There was no longer a question in the dwarf lord’s voice.
"As true a friend as could ever be, Father."
"And I am an old fool."
"Not a fool. Just a dwarf with a dwarf’s stubborn ways.” Gimli’s voice was softer that Glóin would have expected. “As am I, Father."
He met his son’s eyes: there was no glint of anger in them now. "With an elf for a friend."
"Aye. With an elf for a friend." Gimli agreed. The sound of laughter once again caught their attention. From across the room, Legolas’s eyes met Glóin’s. The elf smiled tentatively and Glóin nodded in reply, before he leant close to his son.
"Next you’ll be telling me Thranduil wants to invite me for a mug of ale!"
Gimli stroked his beard thoughtfully, a glint of mischief in his eyes. "’Tis not a bad idea. They make a delicious honeyed mead."
Glóin’s eyes widened. "You have been there?"
"Aye. Many times."
“Baugh!” Glóin waved his hand in the air. “He is an elf! What do they know of mead?”
“Elf he may be,” Gimli placed an arm around his father’s shoulders, drawing him into the open hall. “yet he is my friend.”
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.