18. Cake and ale and smoke
Disclaimer: All Tolkien's of course, I'm just playing with the elves.
Beta-read by the amazing Anarithilien.
Warnings: none for this chapter- light and fluffy
* marks quotes from LOTR or dialogue from LOTR.
This is one of two chapters for Tanis, who reminded me that she at least is still reading this. Thank you Tanis.
Chapter 18: Cake and ale and smoke.
Gimli stamped his feet on the earth and felt the hard rock beneath. He crumbled soil between his fingers and stared at the rich red-brown. He sniffed. Nothing worth mining. Maybe some iron in there somewhere. Better for farming. He shrugged the oversized tunic over his shoulders more comfortably and waited for Legolas to catch up.
While he waited for Legolas to return from checking on Nestor and Anor, he gazed out over the crumbling wall and thought the morning was strange; over the city and to the west, the sky was fair with light clouds and the wind turning westwards.* But away in the East, the clouds gathered, bruised and angry, roiling over the dark mountains. To Gimli they seemed immovable against the wind.
He spotted Legolas coming towards him between the tents, amongst a crowd of other folk, men from all the parts of Gondor. A heavy cart trundled past and Legolas stepped out of its way. Watery mud splashed up as the wheel crashed through but, to the dwarf's intense irritation, Legolas simply side-stepped before he got splashed.
'Don't just stand there daydreaming all day, Legolas,' he called out. 'There is good stone here and I shall need to inspect their citadel to see if it can yet withstand another assault.' As he passed through the city gate, he tapped the limestone walls that gleamed in the sunlight and gave the city its name, the White City.
There were many more people about today, Gimli noted as they walked through the streets. Men stopped to stare at them but it was more at Legolas they stared. Gimli knew that men did not perceive dwarves with distrust; they thought them more alike than not. Gimli himself was used to crowds of men for he often went to Dale and Esgaroth and treated with men frequently.
But it was difficult for them to ignore Legolas. He strode amongst them like something from the ancient tales with his pointed ears and his long hair and outlandish manners. He laughed too loudly and sang as he walked.
'Suiliad, elleth vel---ui,
An i 'aer a in e---lin!
Telo, medo, a sogo uin mereth-milel síla,
Meleth-e-guilen, Pen ve-----lui'
Then he paused, as if thinking of the next line. And then opened his mouth and sang speculatively,
'Sen enni peden
Ech pân i oltha---nnen
Garo sen e----nni
Elo, elo, pedech, cenin i cyruch be vaethor avo belegasech erui!
Annorn! annorn! Ai, te i had!'
He sang in a clear voice, and very loudly. It was not one of those long, sad ballads the Elves in Lothlorien had sung. No, this was jaunty, cheerful, and, Gimli guessed, highly unsuitable for a comrade of the new King Returned. The fact that it was in Legolas' own tongue at least meant that the folk of the the city did not understand the words, but smiled and found themselves walking along or nodding their heads in time to the tune, humming.
'Is that a new song?' he asked with a disapproving look in the elf's direction. 'It would be more discrete if you at least sang less loudly,' he suggested. 'Or perhaps…maybe you could sing something heroic…How about that Gil-Galad song? Maybe not,' he added hastily remembering the words Legolas had sung on the way from the Paths of the Dead. That would not do.
Legolas gave him one of his blinding smiles and Gimli could not help but smile back at such joy and exuberance. 'I have composed this one myself,' the elf said with a touch of innocent pride that did not fool Gimli one bit. 'The second part needs some improvement.' He glanced at the dwarf's stern face and a hint of a smile played about his lips. 'Gimli, it is these boots,' he said penitently looking down at his feet. 'They are too small and pinch. I have to distract myself somehow.'
'Aye, nothing worse than boots not big enough,' the dwarf muttered virtuously. Legolas laughed and tugged the tunic down a little, for that was too small. Gimli thought it too short for modesty; the elf was taller than the men here.
Gimli stroked his beard as he stared about, quickly taking the measure of the stone walls and the masonry. There was some good stonework here and there, but there were also places where the workmanship was downright shoddy.
By the time though they had reached the fourth level Legolas had stopped singing - to Gimli's relief - and gradually he had grown quieter. He stopped frequently and gazed up at the sky perturbed, as if expecting rocks to rain down on them from Nazgul, thought Gimli.
After the fourth turn in a street and yet another confusing junction, they had to climb over the rubble that had still not been cleared from the siege, Gimli declared that the planning of the streets was scandalously poor and could be much improved. 'When Aragorn comes into his own,' he added, 'I shall offer him the service of the stonewrights of the Mountain, and we will make this a town to be proud of.'*
He tapped his knuckles against a crumbling wall and it slowly toppled, in a little cloud of dust. Gimli dusted his hands off on his borrowed tunic, and shook his head in disappointment at those who had been responsible for such poor workmanship. He turned to see that Legolas stood a little way back and stared at a point high up on the wall.
'Legolas?' Gimli hurried back to his companion and tugged on his sleeve. The elf shuddered and shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. Gimli stopped and looked closely at the elf.
'What ails you Legolas?' he asked softly. 'We have victory. The Lord of the Nazgul is vanquished and his wraiths are gone, skulking back to Mordor with their tails between their legs…for the moment anyway.'
But Legolas said distantly, 'The houses here are dead, there is is too little here that grows and is glad.'* He suddenly stared into Gimli's eyes and the dwarf felt the world tilt.
'If Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not die,'* the elf said, almost to himself and his eyes were focused elsewhere.
Gimli frowned. 'If?' he asked gently, 'you mean when of course.'
Legolas looked suddenly afraid and he grasped Gimli's arm like he was falling. He looked away, up towards the mountains that loomed above, and he rubbed his fingers together as if they prickled. 'I am unquiet here where the Nazgul were,' he said anxiously. 'My heart forbodes ill. Let us leave this place.'
'These moments with you always give me the Gunud-Dehken.**' The dwarf humphed quietly but he reached out and patted Legolas lightly on his arm. 'You must try to see the city as it will be when Aragorn comes into his own. Do not give in to this despair, Legolas. The Nazgul are far away for the moment at least, brewing up new trouble in Mordor no doubt.'
He tugged Legolas' sleeve lightly and led him away from the crumbled wall that looked like jagged teeth biting the sky. He did not see Legolas gazing anxiously upwards into the sky, way, way beyond the reach of any arrow.
Pippin watched Merry anxiously where he lay in bed. Even though it was breakfast time, Merry had gone without once asking where it was. His friend had a large, comfortable room all to himself. It was very clean and the white stone was well-scrubbed, but Pippin felt there was the scent of blood lingering in the air in spite of the herbs and soap used to cleanse the place.
'Stop it, Pip. You're hovering,' said Merry sleepily, and it broke Pippin's heart to hear how weak and weary he was.
'I can't help it, Merry. I'm just not used to seeing you like this. '
'Well heroes need their rest you know,' he said smiling and it took the sting out of his words. Pippin smiled back.
'I thought I'd lost you,' he said simply and grasped Merry's hand.
'Silly old thing,' Merry murmured. Pip found his eyes blinded with tears. Merry was not the only one he worried about. He kept thinking of dear old Frodo, and loyal Sam...
As if he knew, Merry said, 'I know. I've given you a shock, and they are still out there somewhere… under those dark clouds. '
'D'you think .. .?' Pippin couldn't finish his question.
'Oh yes,' Merry said bravely as always. 'It'll take more than a few nasty Orcs to beat our Frodo. And he's got Sam. And I think there will be all sorts of other folk on the way that will give them help. You never know, as the Old Gaffer says, where the next meal is coming from!' he laughed gently and clutched his ribs. 'Ooh, don't me make me laugh, Pip. It hurts. '
'That was you as made us both laugh then, Merry,' Pippin said reprovingly.
Merry lay gently back down against the pillows. His eyes drifted closed again and Pippin could not bear that, not after he had been so close to death so he said, 'I wonder where Gimli and Legolas are. Do you think they might visit?'
'I expect so, Pip,' murmured Merry. 'I missed you terribly when you left with Gandalf, you know. And I hate to think of you on your own during the siege.' Merry shuddered. 'It sounds terrible. I don't know which is worse, to be holed up here with nowhere to run or hide, or to be out there amongst the orcs and trolls and mumakils… I tell you what, Pip. They won't believe us back home.' He shook his head.
'And you killed the Nazgul,' Pippin said. He was still in awe of his cousin, looked at him like he was a hero from an ancient song, looked on him with the same admiration he looked at Strider or Gimli or Legolas.
Merry nudged him and laughed. 'Fool of a Took,' he said affectionately.
'Do you know how many times Gandalf said that to me when we were riding here!' protested Pippin. 'And that wasn't the least either. He called me all sorts of names. '
Then Merry opened his eyes and gave Pippin an astute look. 'Are you worried? About Legolas?'
'Well Strider was a bit vague about him, don't you think?' Pippin sat beside Merry's bed and leaned his elbow on his knees, looking down at the stone floor. He thought about Galadriel's message to Legolas, about the gulls, and the fact that he had ignored the warning and come anyway.
'I don't think much right now, Pip. I am just glad to be alive to be honest with you. And Legolas is alive, Strider said, and Gimli. And Gandalf is here. That will have to do us for the moment until we see our friends.' Merry's eyes drifted closed again and Pippin thought he was asleep.
Pippin closed his eyes. Because they had come to the shores where gulls cried. They had gone to Pelargir and all of Galadriel's other messages had come true. Pippin suddenly needed to tell Merry… but looking at the weary hobbit, head on one side, sleeping and a blanket tucked around him, the last thing Pippin wanted to do was to upset him anymore. He quietly hoped that everything with his friends was well, and thought too of the other two hobbits, in that far land under the gloomy clouds and where there were armies of orcs, and the Nazgul and…Pippin swiped at his eye with his hand and wished with all his heart he could help everyone.
After Merry had woken and a tall, quiet spoken man had helped him to move to a chair, Pippin had gone and found a second breakfast. Only Merry did not want it so Pippin had to eat it all himself, and now his stomach was really quite full.
He perched on the windowsill and leaned out of the tall window, looking down into the square below. A fountain splashed into a clear pool, and ancient lime trees leaned over the paved area. In the Summer he was sure they would give shade. Small groups of people were gathered there.
'There are lots more people down there, Merry,' he said brightly. 'Look, there are some of the Rohirrim warriors standing on the steps. They must have been injured and been brought up here to be healed.' He knew Merry liked the Rohirrim and Pippin hoped it would be enough to stir his cousin into getting up from his chair to join him at the window.
'Yes, there were so many injuries,' was all Merry said listlessly.
Pippin sighed. He tried again. 'Have you noticed the Gondor folk are all dark with pale skin, and the Rohirrim are blond. Isn't that funny. You can see how Boromir and Strider came from these parts. You'd never mistake them for Rohirrim.'
But Merry said nothing, just stared at the blanket tucked around him, as if seeing something else entirely.
Pippin glanced out of the window again and was just about to come in and sit with Merry when there was a slight commotion at the entrance to the square. Heads turned to look down one of the streets. Pippin leaned forwards to try to see what was happening. He held the edge of the window and leaned out as far as he dared.
'Careful Pip, you'll fall! Come back in!'
Merry sounded alarmed but Pip knew he was fine. He leaned out a little further and then caught it…someone was singing… A catchy little tune and Pippin found himself strangely excited, his foot tapped along. The people in the square seemed to be smiling a bit more too, and they turned their heads to see who it was that sang. A few of the able-bodied soldiers moved a little towards the direction of the singing and there was a ripple of laughter. Pippin held his breath and then into the sunlight strode a tall elf and the sunlight caught in his long hair.
'Oooh! It's Legolas!' he called delightedly, and wriggled back from the window. He felt like whooping and shouting.
'Legolas? Where?' demanded Merry and the hobbit struggled up from his chair and to Pippin's delight, joined him at the window just as a stocky, strong dwarf, frowning and stroking his abundant chestnut beard, came into view.
'Look! Gimli too!' cried Pippin joyfully. 'Legolas! Gimli!' he called and waved madly.
Legolas looked up and his face broke into a delighted smile. He jogged Gimli's arm and pointed and Gimli too laughed and waved back.
'Let's go down and meet them,' Pippin said hopefully.
Their progress was slower than it once would have been, but Pippin was so glad to see Merry's face light up at the prospect of seeing their friends that he decided to push away his other fears firmly and concentrate on making Merry smile.
Along this upper storey, there were many pale wooden doors leading off on the same side as Merry's room, and on the other side, long windows opened onto a garden. The garden was prettily planted and somewhere there was running water, a fountain. The two hobbits had barely begun to descend the wide stone steps when they heard the commotion of elf and dwarf enter the Houses of Healing.
That was Gimli, thought Pippin, speaking to one of the healers or one of the women who kept the Houses so spotlessly clean.
'Could you direct us to our good friends, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrine Took?' Gimli was always so courteous, he thought.
A woman's voice said shyly, 'The Lords Perrian are up those stairs my lords. I can show you if you want?'
There was a sudden flurry of women's voices and excitement and sudden giggling and then Gimli's voice came again sounding louder and a little more irritated.
'Fear not, my lady, I think we can find our way up the stairs without an escort. Come, Legolas, our friends await!'
Pippin hopped onto the wide stone staircase and leaned over the wrought iron handrail. 'Legolas! Gimli!' he called, peering down. 'Up here!'
The two companions came leaping up the steps and suddenly Pippin was surrounded by arms and warmth and the smells and scents of their companions, leather and horses and iron and hay. They were gentler with Merry. Legolas tilted his head to look at the hobbit and then he leaned forwards, putting his hand on Merry's shoulder. He whispered something Pippin could not hear but Merry smiled and looked suddenly peaceful and content. The haunted shadows in his eyes seemed to dim.
'Well? Do I pass?' Merry asked more brightly than he had sounded since Pippin had found him.
'We can sit in the garden!' said Pippin, delighted to see Merry looking so much better.
The garden was reached by a door further along the corridor and they walked slowly, chatting and laughing and swapping news. Sunlight spread over the limestone paved floor and a small group of women had gathered in the passageway, talking excitedly and still clutching bundles of cloth or buckets. The women stopped talking as they approached and stared wide-eyed. Gimli bowed politely to them and they curtsied, but when Legolas smiled at them they started giggling like girls. Gimli raised his eyes to heaven and sighed.
Legolas grinned at Pippin and he grinned back. He wanted to dance and shout now that such danger had passed. He was not the Fool of a Took that he once was and knew there was more ahead, but for the moment, he just wanted to enjoy being together in the sunshine. And Merry and Gimli were in desperate need of cheering up, he thought to himself pleased.
'That was a very nice song you were singing, Legolas,' he said cheerfully and the elf gave him a conspiratorial sidelong glance. 'Will you not teach it to me?' he asked innocently.
'No he will not.' Gimli turned and glared at them both. 'It is…unsuitable.'
Pippin snorted aloud by mistake and Merry threw him a warning glance. But Legolas said with innocence equal only to Pippin's, 'Of course I will teach it to you, Pippin. In fact, I need some help with it,' he said as they reached the door to the garden.
Pippin opened it with a flourish, letting the others go through first. 'Good. I am well known in the Shire for my musical arrangements.'
'It is a sad song,' Legolas said sounding very encouraged, thought Pippin. They went through the high arched door and into the garden. 'It is about thwarted love… I have not yet finished it.'
'Oh, it is your own?' asked Pippin with interest. 'Your own songs are…' Pippin groped for a polite way to describe Legolas' own songs. 'Well.. they are not necessarily the sort of songs songs you hear in Elrond's halls,' he struggled gallantly. 'But always delightful. It is a shame that not everyone appreciates them.' He followed Legolas as he sauntered out into the sunlit garden and they joined Gimli and Merry. Gimli was settling Merry carefully in a low chair.
Legolas smiled benignly and sat upon the green lawn. Pippin settled next to the elf, looking up at him expectantly. Giving him a quick, mischievous glance, Legolas then folded his hands behind his head and leaned back against an ancient tree that spread its branches over them. 'It is about a beautiful maiden and her lover,' he said gravely. "That's me,' he added slyly. Gimli groaned. 'They are … We are… enjoying ourselves greatly. Let me sing it to you and you can tell me what you think. I will sing it to you in my own tongue and then in Westron.'
'That is very helpful of you, Legolas,' Pippin said encouragingly, leaning back against the same tree.
Legolas sang the first few lines loudly and clearly. 'Suiliad elleth ve-----lui,
An i 'aer a in e-----lin!
Telo, medo, a sogo uin mereth-mil
Êl síla or lû o govaded vin, pe----den
Meleth-e-guilen, Pen velui'
Gimli hushed him quickly, looking around scandalised. "You do not know if there are folk here who can understand the words,' he said. Merry laughed softly and Legolas looked aggrieved.
'I think it's charming,' Pippin whispered.
'Thank you,' said Legolas whispering back loudly, 'I knew you would appreciate it. Others' he glanced teasingly at the dwarf, ' do not have your ear for music. I suppose I will have to translate it for you later.'
'You are too kind,' Pippin said and beamed at Legolas.
The sunlight warmed them and in the early Spring, the very air seemed excited and full of promise. Small green shoots eased their way through the soil and a light dusting of green was on the branches of the ancient trees that shaded the garden. Somewhere another fountain splashed and a small bird flitted above them.
'Now, Merry,' Gimli turned to the hobbit conversationally. 'You will recall that when we left you in Rohan, you were supposed to stay with Eowyn, which, I will concede, you did. But the command, I think, was to stay in Rohan with Eowyn.' He tugged the blanket up around Merry and tucked it around him quite tightly. Merry looked mildly irritated and Legolas smothered a smile.
'Ah well, as you say, it was Eowyn's fault. She did insist on going and it was only gallant to go with her,' Merry said more cheerfully than Pippin had seen him since he had awoken. He then pulled the blanket out.
Legolas laughed and breathed deeply as if he had been slowly suffocating, smelling the air. 'That is a winter-jasmine.' He pointed to a small yellow flower that scrambled over a stone wall. 'And I can smell camomile. Eowyn is here somewhere too.' He twined a small white flower between his long fingers and smiled at Pippin. 'Is she awake?'
'Yes, she is, but she is very sad,' Pippin said. "When Merry is well enough he and I will go see her. I think we will cheer her up. You should come too.'
'Yes, I intend to see her today if I can,' said Legolas. 'I am checking on all my friends.' He looked up into the blue sky for a moment and then added, 'I have some explaining to do.' But he did not say to whom or what he had to explain. When Pippin glanced enquiringly at Gimli, the dwarf just shrugged.
'Ah, Merry, Pippin,' Gimli suddenly said, 'To see you like this does my heart much good. And I have needed it indeed.' He gently placed his square hand on Merry's shoulder and smiled at him, his voice was soft and his eyes moist. 'Pah! These flowers, nothing but trouble. Give me hayfever,' he said, suddenly turning away and wiping his eyes.
Legolas nudged Pippin and grinned down at him where he sat next to the elf on the grass. It was cool and soft and covered in the small white flowers Legolas had just picked. Not daisies, it was too early for that. Pippin picked one and stared at it, the sunlight catching his eyes and lighting them.
'Well here we are, all alive,' Pippin said with such relief that Gimli laughed.
'Only just!' declared Legolas, 'Have I told you yet how many orcs I have had to kill to save this one's tough hide?' he said lightly, his eyes gleaming.
'Not as many as I have had to kill to save your tender one,' rejoined Gimli with spirit and his eyes gleamed too. Pippin sat back and leaned against Merry. Merry closed his eyes and smiled whilst elf and dwarf bickered cheerfully.
'This is just like the old days!' Pippin wriggled round to look up at Merry. 'We should have some ale to celebrate!' he cried.
'And cake,'added Merry.
'And I have Longbottom Leaf,' added Gimli and he nudged Merry.
Merry paused for a moment and then smiled and nodded. 'Yes. I think I would like that,' he said slowly, as if remembering something sad and sweet.
'Won it off Aragorn yesterday, after the battle,' Gimli patted the pockets of his borrowed tunic and pulled out a pouch. 'He wagered me that Legolas ….ah…' he glanced nervously at the elf who was glaring at him. 'Never mind. Of course winning a bet against Aragorn is like taking emeralds from Dale*,' he said grinning. 'Too easy by far.'
Pippin was not sure if the dangerous look Legolas sent the dwarf was because of the reference to emeralds and Dale, or the bet he had with Strider. But he wasn't going to ask. Gimli just gave him a big gleaming grin.
'Go and get our friends their refreshments, Legolas, there's a good fellow.' said Gimli and he laughed again, showing his teeth so Legolas shook his head and smiled too. All was forgiven.
As the elf rose to his feet, he asked 'Are they yet accustomed here to the habits of Hobbits? Is this your second breakfast, third breakfast, or elevenses?'
'I have only had second breakfast actually, because Merry didn't want his,' said Pippin proudly.'So it's my elevenses, Merry's first breakfast and your… um…whatever it is that you have.'
Legolas went back into the Houses and the Hobbits and Dwarf unfolded pouches and pipes and swapped pipeweed and by the time the elf returned balancing plates and cakes and a jug of ale with four mugs hooked on his fingers, there was a small cloud of smoke around the three. Legolas coughed showily.
'It is as I imagine Mount Doom in the time of the forging of the you-know-what!' declared the elf, putting the cake and jug down carefully and then throwing cups and plates towards each of them so they had to grip their pipes and catch the cutlery.
'Not a drop spilt!' declared Pippin victoriously.
Legolas dropped down beside Pippin again. He looked about the garden again, slowly, and watched the small bird that had now fluttered down onto the grass and studied them as intently as an elf. 'I will bring Sam here when all is done,' he murmured quietly.
Pippin blinked suddenly and raised his cup. 'To Sam,' he said quietly. And one by one they raised their cups to each other in memory of those who were not with them.
The sun had briefly gone behind a cloud, but this was a white fluffy one, not one of the dark, low clouds that seemed to belch from the Mountains of Mordor. Yet almost immediately the sun came out again, and flooded them with warmth and brightness. High above them came a flash of white and piercing call from the white seabirds that flocked about the citadel.
*'Look!' Legolas cried, and his eyes followed the birds, gleaming white in the sunlight. 'Gulls! They are flying far inland.' He watched them, rapt. Pippin remembered the words of Galadriel that he had overheard in Edoras the night he had looked into the Palantir, and he stared at Legolas with a sudden foreboding.
'A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart.' Legolas murmured almost to himself now, but Pippin saw Gimli rub his eyes and knew they all listened. 'Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships.'
'And I will never forget how you stood there lost and almost let yourself be killed,' muttered the dwarf. 'If it had not been for the Son of Elrond, you would have died.' Pippin stared at him, aghast. Legolas had been injured in that battle, Strider had told them. It must have been when he saw the gulls.
Legolas glanced over at the dwarf and smiled at him gently. 'Aye. I stood still, forgetting war in Middle Earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.' He sounded so bereft that Pippin felt his heart squeeze.
'Say not so!' said Gimli suddenly, and he put his hand on Legolas' shoulder and turned the elf's face away from the gulls and towards him. He held Legolas' green eyes with his own. 'Here are countless things still to see in Middle Earth, and great works to do. But if all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those doomed to stay.'
Pippin thought Gimli's eyes had a soft gleam in them and he wondered if they were tears. If Legolas really would leave them all for the Havens…what then? If all the elves left…and suddenly Pippin thought Gimli was right. He thought of how Legolas had cheered them all with his bawdy songs and his teasing of Gimli and Aragorn, and even Gandalf occasionally, and he had soothed them too on the long march from Rivendell, with his ballads and lullabies and his indefatigable strength. He thought of how the orcs would overrun Middle earth without Legolas and the elves, and suddenly it became very dark for Pippin.
'Dull and dreary indeed!' said Merry, struggling to sit up and reach over to Legolas. He caught the elf's hand in his smaller one and Pippin had to turn away because he suddenly felt all the emotion and pressure of the last few days heap upon him. He felt his heart would burst. 'You must not go to the Havens, Legolas. There will always be some folk, big or little, and even a few wise dwarves like Gimli who need you. At least I hope so.'
Pippin glanced at Legolas, and the elf dragged his gaze back from the gulls to his companions, but it was an effort Pippin could see and his eyes kept wandering back to the river. Gimli looked away.
Merry smiled and Pippin could hardly bear it. 'Though I feel somewhat the worst of this war is still to come. How I wish it were all done and well over!'
Pippin rubbed his hands over his face, he could not bear it. 'Don't be so gloomy!' he cried desperately. 'The Sun is shining, and here we are together for a day or two at least.' He cast about for a way of diverting them all from such despair. 'I want to hear more about you all. Come Gimli, you and Legolas have mentioned your strange journey with Strider about a dozen times already this morning but you have told me nothing about it.'*
Gimli shuddered and it was Legolas who told them of their journey on the Paths of the Dead, but Pippin only listened with half an ear. He was watching Merry, who listened with more interest than he had shown in anything else since Pippin found him stumbling behind those who bore Eowyn to the Houses of Healing. He saw too, how Gimli watched Legolas in the way he watched Merry. And finally, he watched Legolas, and noted the way his eyes were ever drawn skywards and west. Yet he was strangely quiet when Gimli berated him for getting shot by an arrow at Pelargir and he said nothing at all about the journey on the ship. And when Gimli spoke of the courage and strength of the Sons of Elrond and their prowess in battle the elf's eyes turned towards the dwarf with a strange excitement and his hand crept to his chest.
Suddenly Legolas rose and said, 'I would see the Lady Eowyn before we leave. Aragorn has bid us all meet tonight to eat together. We must make the most of the time we have together, as Pippin says.' He looked down at them and the sun lit him from behind.
"Oh, Legolas - before you go, I have message for you from Gandalf,' Merry said suddenly. 'He asked me to tell you he needs to speak with you today.' And Pippin suddenly had a terrible sense of vertigo for a moment and wanted to reach out and hold onto Legolas, to stop him from leaving, from falling. But he shook his head and told himself it was this dreadful time of war.
'Shall I come back this way, Gimli,' Legolas was asking brightly, 'so that you may find your way back to the camp? For I know how your dwarvish senses are befuddled above ground and in the sunlight.'
'I told you you could not rile me, Legolas. And I prove it even as your desperate attempts fall upon stony ground.' Gimli showed his teeth and puffed a cloud of fragrant smoke into the air.
Legolas ignored the dwarf. 'It is always good to have a dwarf around,' he said and as he left he called back, 'Someone has to finish off the very slow and stupid orcs.' He waved his hand at Gimli as he left and made a show of not being able to hear the dwarf's spluttering rejoinder. He waved at them as he left grinning.
* The lines of dialogue in this section are from ROTK- The Last Debate, but you knew that.
**Gunud-Dekhen: Miner's Breath- a dwarvish phrase. Gunud- delve underground; Dekhen- gasp or struggle for breath. It is a feature of mithril mines which bewitch the dwarf into thinking there is no air left although there is. They take a small miner's lamp with them so they know it is only the enchantment of mithril. (Note: Tolkien seems to have used Hebrew for the derivation of Khuzdul according to many scholars, hence the similarity to some words in Anglo-Saxon and some in Hebrew. Interesting. So I've used it here.)
*** Emeralds and Dale. A local Erebor saying - a Khazad equivalent of our taking candy from a baby. Bard gave Thranduil the emeralds of Dale in a token of thanks for his help with the devastation of Smaug.
Legolas' song… you will see he is NOT a very good composer- too lazy. Also the -----in the song show the 'lilting cadences' etc etc of his clear and cheerful voice.
Greetings lovely maiden, by the stars and sea
A star shines on the hour of our meeting, said I
Come, eat, and drink of the love-feast (Sexual innuendo in silvan culture. But you guessed that)
Love of my life, lovely one
You are all I dreamed
Hold this for me I say.
My, my, she said, I see your skills as a warrior are not your only greatness!
Harder... harder... Yes! That's the spot!
(You see, total lack of imagination!)
(Thanks to Hithanaur .net for the translation)
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