24. Confessions On A Stormy Night
Confessions on a Stormy Night
(Spilling Your Guts in a Cave)
It was an interesting sight, though a familiar one to many. A large grey horse bearing two riders, followed closely by a large brown pony. The two unusual riders, one tall and slender, the other shorter and stocky, were headed southeast.
The two had traveled in silence since leaving the havens that morning. They had not spoken of what had transpired yesterday, when Gimli had found Legolas on the dock. For now, it was enough the elf was still here and he had remembered. A time would come for them to speak of everything that had happened, but it was not now.
A gust of frigid air blew the long golden hair of the elf back over his shoulders and the dwarf grumbled when he got a mouth full of it, as he opened his mouth to speak.
"Blast you elf, can't you tie your hair out of the way when I'm riding with you?" Gimli bellowed at his friend, quite annoyed as this was not the first time today he had had a mouthful of the elf's hair.
"No, Gimli, I enjoy it blowing free as we ride. Or I would, if you would cease trying to eat it! Perhaps you would rather ride Moroch, but then you would be eating horse hair, instead of elf hair!" Legolas pulled his hair back over the front of his shoulders, away from the dwarf who was grumbling something better left unsaid about elves, while eyeing the strands as though the locks were orcs, rather than simply hair.
Searching the sky, which was rapidly becoming dark with clouds, Legolas realized the weather would soon force them to stop. A storm was fast approaching and it would not be nice to be out in it, not even for an elf. Another freezing gust blew past them, and Legolas turned Celedae towards a rocky area, where he could just make out the opening of what appeared to be a large cave. They would have just enough time to find enough wood for a fire in the nearby copse of trees, before the storm hit.
The first drops of rain were falling when Legolas stopped the horse in front of the large opening. He dismounted and waited for Gimli to hop down. The dwarf frowned down at him.
"What are you doing, elf?" Gimli asked suspiciously.
"Getting us out of the nasty weather that will soon be upon us. I think we should stop here for the night, do you not agree? If we hasten, we should be able to gather enough wood to keep a fire going all night." The elf answered, irritated that he was stating the obvious.
"But it's a cave, Legolas." The dwarf continued to frown down at the elf from atop Celedae.
Legolas breathed out heavily and looked sharply at the dwarf. "And I thought it was a tree!" He quipped sarcastically. "Do not tell me you are going to do this every time we need to seek shelter in a cave. Or perhaps you would rather stay out here in the freezing rain? I for one, am going to make sure it is unoccupied, then I am heading to get some firewood. You are welcome to join me or sit on Celedae all night, whichever you wish." With that, the elf slipped into the opening, leaving a flustered dwarf sitting foolishly on a horse.
Gimli slipped from the horse's back. He removed their packs from Moroch along with his horse's tack and stuck it all under the overhanging rock. Both horses moved away, seeking shelter amid the trees, grabbing mouthfuls of grass as they walked. Gimli had no fear of them running off. They would both come when the elf whistled for them in the morning.
Grabbing his ax and muttering under his breath, the dwarf made off for the trees to get some wood for a fire. He returned with an armload, finding Legolas had searched the cave and found it unoccupied. The elf had also formed a ring of stones for the fire.
Legolas looked up as the dwarf entered. "We will need to get more than that to last the night. Coming?" Legolas ignored the pointed look he was getting from the dwarf.
As they picked up the dry wood, Legolas noted Gimli's sly glances his way. The dwarf, it would seem, was nervous about the elf staying in a cave after the accident that had brought them to this place. Legolas sighed, knowing a long evening lay before him. It was time to speak of what had happened and put it behind them, for both their sakes.
Soon a fire was burning merrily in the ring of stones, far enough away from the entrance of the cave to keep the wind from stirring it or blowing rain in on it. A fair supply of dry wood was stacked further in, to keep it dry. The packs were in the back of the cave and two bedrolls had been placed near the fire.
Legolas stood just out of reach of the cold rain that fell heavily upon the land. He looked out into the gathering dusk. Gimli sat on his bedroll, watching the elf watch the rain. The tension between the two of them was uncomfortable. There were many things that needed to be said, but Legolas did not seem inclined to talk.
The elf did not speak until it was almost completely dark. "I thought you had stopped blaming yourself for the cave in, Gimli. It was not your fault and it is not going to keep me from entering other caves, no matter how much I may dislike them."
Legolas kept his eyes looking out into the night, listening for the dwarf's response. I came in the form of a heavy sigh.
"It is hard for me not to take the blame, Legolas. I know you dislike dark, closed in spaces, yet I always pull you into one anyway. Every time, it seems, something goes wrong. If I had stopped insisting you join me, and accepted you were an elf who belonged in the trees rather than underground, you would not have been hurt and none of this would have happened." The dwarf's voice was filled with guilt.
"If you stopped wishing for us to spend time underground, you would cease to be a dwarf. I may not like the darkness and being closed in, but I enjoy learning of you, Gimli. I would not know you as I do, if I had never followed you into the darkness. Just as you would not truly know me, if you had not followed me into the forest. These things are what make our friendship special, for what other elf or dwarf would do such things for the other? Cease your worry and your guilt, my friend. I am fine." Legolas spoke with much conviction.
Gimli studied the elf and realized what he spoke was truth. Their friendship was unique and he needed to accept the gift the elf gave to him. Gimli did enjoy the elf accompanying him into the places he loved. A flash of insight brought the dwarf to his feet. He walked over to Legolas and put a hand on his arm.
"Thank you. I will accept this and feel guilty no longer...at least I will not once I climb that blasted tree of yours!" Gimli told him.
Legolas smiled brightly at this proclamation. "Truly, Gimli? You'll come see my tree?" It was a fair trade. An elf's fear of the dark for a dwarf's fear of heights.
"Aye. And as we speak plainly with one another, just as I release my guilt, but it is time you stop keeping things from me, Legolas. What is still bothering you?" Gimli sensed the elf's anxiety lingered.
Legolas took a deep breath and looked at his friend carefully. "It is not easy for me to speak of it, Gimli, but you are correct, I must. Do you recall that night in Minas Tirith, when I first arrived and we spoke?" Gimli nodded. "I did not speak of everything that night. I was ashamed to tell you, just how lost in the sea I had allowed myself to become."
"Nay, lad. You told me it was bad, so bad you forgot to come visit. But that is behind us now." Gimli would not let the elf berate himself, but Legolas would not let it go.
"Yes, but what makes all that has happened so horrifying to me, is I did not just forget to visit. I forgot you, Gimli." Legolas swallowed and dropped his eyes. This confession was harder than he had thought it would be.
"I was standing looking west, lost in the sea and I could not remember why I stayed. For a few moments, I forgot you. When I remembered, I swore to myself I would never let that happen again. Yet, it has. I am sorry, Gimli. Sorry for all I have put you through. A difficult friend, I am."
Gimli absorbed what Legolas had just told him. It hurt. But the dwarf reminded himself it was not all the elf's fault. He suffered from something he could hardly control, especially alone. Legolas was not the only one to break a vow.
"There is nothing to be sorry for, my friend. Difficult, yes, but that is to be expected. You are an elf." Gimli allowed himself a small smile and caught the twitches on his friend's lips as well. "
"Legolas, I will not say it does not bother me that you forgot me. But what bothers me more is that I did not go to check on you. I know you get lost in your longing. It is not your fault, either. I got just as caught up in my work as you did. It seems we both need to renew our promises to each other. I will never again forget to make sure we spend the time together that you need to keep you from getting lost. I promise." Gimli swore to his friend.
Legolas blinked back those annoying tears that seemed to spring unbidden to his eyes so frequently. He met the dwarf's eyes. "Thank you, my friend. And I promise I will never again allow myself to become so isolated from those I care for, you especially."
The two friends smiled at one another, knowing from now on, they would see much more of each other to make sure the vows were kept. It was a comforting thought. Time spent between these friends was never dull. They looked forward to the times and adventures to come.
That night, for the first time in months, both elf and dwarf, got a good night's sleep.
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.