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Shoutbox

Spiced Wine
06/23/17 10:45 pm
Thank you and happy Friday :) I am going to buy a cheap laptop soon so I can write properly
Encairion
06/21/17 01:54 am
Hi Spiced, good to hear from you :) I am sorry things been weighing you down, and work piling up. I hope a chance to relax and do what you love comes soon :hugs:
ziggy
06/21/17 01:25 am
Lovely to hear you are getting back, Spiced!
Alquien
06/20/17 06:16 am
Hope you are feeling better now Spiced. ((hugs))
Spiced Wine
06/19/17 07:18 pm
I hope you're all okay my loves. Such appalling things going on the last few weeks :( I am overwhelmed by that and a work backlog, but trying to get that done to write again. Hugs to all
Ysilme
06/11/17 01:37 pm
Have a great trip and a great time, Naledi!
Naledi
06/11/17 09:19 am
Thanks! Maybe I'll be inspired - who knows?
ziggy
06/10/17 01:39 pm
Have a lovely time, Naledi- how lovely. hope you are inspired to write something for all of us!!xx
Spiced Wine
06/09/17 10:25 pm
Wonderful! Your are so lucky, Naledi. Have a lovely time. Have a great weekend everyone!
Naledi
06/09/17 07:20 pm
Happy Friday, everyone! I'm off on holiday to Pembrokeshire for a week but I hope I'll have internet access.
Shout Archive


Where the Shadows Lie by ziggy

Story notes:

This follows Sons of Thunder in the sequence More Dangerous, Through a Glass, Sons of Thunder. 

Quick reminder of the story so far:
In Glass, Glorfindel and Erestor find an ancient artefact, a Mirror, in ruined Phellanthir (Celebrimbor's ancient city of learning and curvë). The Mirror is an interface with the Eternal Dark, the dimension into which Morgoth has been cast and the Sons of Feänor swore they would be cast if they did not win back the Silmarils. In this story, Elrohir offers himself to save Elladan from a morgul blade and Angmar twists Elrohir's memory of finding their mother, Celebrian so it becomes darker and cruel. Angmar also twists Elrohir's burgeoning desire for Legolas and this darker and cruel desire is what colours Elrohir's relationship with Legolas throughout Sons of Thunder, which tells their story as the War of the Ring progresses.

 

Sons of Thunder II: Where the Shadows Lie.

 

BETA: ANARITHILIEN.

 

 

 

Chapter 1: On the edges of Mordor

 

It was in the blessed time after the War had been won. The Fellowship basked in the peace of those blissful days: Aragorn had not yet come to the White City but remained camped on the Field of Cormallen. They met each evening to share supper and to tell their tales and every morning there was a small gift to be found for Sam and Frodo to remind them a living things. Legolas had taken this upon himself for each of the Fellowship had their part to play in the Hobbits’ recovery; this was his.

 

He threw open the flap of Aragorn’s huge tent: one of Aragorn’s many huge tents, he amended for it was not the tent where Aragorn was at this moment. This was the tent he was looking for though. It was where the King dined and at one end were chests full of gleaming silver cutlery and glass that sparkled in the sunlight. He grabbed a crystal goblet that was so fine, so delicately made it looked like it would shatter if anyone so much as raised it to their lips, and tossed it cheerfully into the air and caught it at the moment one of the stewards turned to look.

 

‘My lord, that is from the reign of Túrin the Second!’ protested the steward in horror. ‘It is crystal, made by the Dwarves of Erebor before the Dragon!’

 

Legolas balanced it upon the tip of one finger and flashed his most blinding smile. ‘It is for these,’ he said, opening his hand and showing the steward the slender buds of a few anemones. ‘They need water or they will die.’ He spun the goblet so it flashed and gleamed. ‘For the Hobbits.’

 

The nervous steward softened immediately and clicked his fingers towards a passing servant who was hurrying past with a basket of fresh loaves in one hand and a dish of fried mushrooms in the other. ‘When you have served second breakfast, please bring the crystal flower flute, the very fine one from Boromir the First’s reign.’ He turned to Legolas and smiled complicitly. ‘It is quite priceless but those flowers will look enchanting in it.’ He paused and then asked anxiously, ‘My lord Legolas, are you not expected at the King’s council?’

 

‘Oh, I do not suppose he needs my opinion in addition to everyone else’s,’ Legolas replied nonchalantly for he had seen Merry and Pippin had just entered the tent and were waving at him. ‘It is far better that I attend the hobbits for second breakfast.’

 

‘Good morning Legolas! Are you joining us? It’s just Merry and me otherwise and that is hardly worth all the effort they have made.’ Pippin waved an apple at Legolas and grinned. In one corner of the huge tent was a low table and bench. The table was laden with loaves of bread and honey and butter, cheese and eggs, bacon and mushrooms and jugs of water sparkling. The hobbits perched on a bench at the wide table, feet dangling and scooted up to make room for Legolas though he had to stretch his legs right out in order to fit at the table.

 

‘Apparently we are late for Aragorn’s council,’ he replied unconcerned, reaching over and snagging a slice of bread which he spread  thickly with butter and then honey. ‘I am useless at councils anyway,’ he said and it seemed the hobbits felt the same way. Instead they ate eggs, bacon, mushrooms, cheese, fruit and the small delicious loaves that Legolas liked so much. Much later, he licked his fingers and gestured to the crystal goblet and flowers. ‘I am taking these for Sam,’ he said. ’And then at some point I suppose we had better go and let Aragorn tell us what he has decided.’

 

‘Do we have to?’ Pippin asked plaintively. ‘Gimli is already at the council and he’ll tell us all the important bits. Surely Aragorn can manage on his own?’

 

‘Yes, he has Gandalf, and Gimli, and all those advisors and officials and we only have you,’ Merry added grinning, and Legolas grinned back, widely.

 

‘To be honest, I already know what he is going to ask me and as you are not involved, I am sure you can stay and do more important things.’

 

‘What is he going to ask you then, Legolas?’ asked Pippin, reaching for a fourth rasher of bacon to go with his third piece of toast. He put it carefully alongside the third egg, hesitated and then took another egg and another sausage. Then added a large spoonful of mushrooms.

 

‘Well,’ Legolas began, his mouth full of bread and butter and honey. ‘Gandalf says we must ensure that the Nazgûl have left nothing in Minas Morgul that might later be used against us. We are going there to have a look around.’ Legolas said this as if it were  no more than a stroll in the Shire with a picnic lunch.

 

‘You are going into Minas Morgul?’ Merry asked horrified. ‘Surely Sauron is defeated? Gone? There is nothing left.’

 

‘It sounds dangerous to me,’ Pippin said looking up at Legolas anxiously. ‘Legolas,’ he said a little hesitantly, ‘are you sure it should be you going? You know the Nazgûl seemed to have a special interest in hurting you.’

 

Legolas patted Pippin on the shoulder tenderly in the way that Pippin had frequently done to him during the quest. It was a kind gesture and he focused on that rather than remember the terrible night on the Mindolluin when the Nazgûl had attacked him. ‘Thank you Pip.’ He laughed lightly, shoving away that dark memory and deciding that sometimes it was better to leave things there and not bring them out into the light. ‘But I assure you they hated my father and both my brothers even more.’

 

‘Oh! You have brothers?’ Pip breathed. ‘I didn’t know.’ He looked crestfallen that he could have travelled for so long with Legolas and yet know so little about him.

 

‘I will tell you of them some day if you like, Pippin. They are both far more suited to almost anything than I am. They are very brave and very clever. But I am a better archer and much better looking. Also my middle brother is a lackwit.’ He grinned so Pippin would know that was not true for Thalos was more than a match for any, and suddenly Legolas felt a pang of loneliness; he remembered the news that had reached them a few nights ago, that Celeborn and Thranduil had fought a terrible battle under the trees and met only days before. He knew his father was alive but there had been no news of his brothers, or Galion. Or any of his friends.

 

Although some of his friends had already fallen.

 

Legolas’ hands stilled and he looked down, remembering Anglach; he squeezed his eyes shut trying to block out the last time he had seen his closest friend, the light hearted and playful Anglach, whose eyes had been gouged out and ears cut off by orcs when Smeagol was freed, done whilst he still lived and before they cut his throat. And there was too, the vision that Saruman had given him when they were in Orthanc- of a body hitched upon a lance, golden hair fluttering. Saruman had suggested it was Thranduil and while the Battle under the Trees had been won, that did not mean his father was safe, or that orcs had been entirely driven from the Wood. And Thranduil was not the only elf with golden hair; there was Laersul too.

 

Slowly he became aware of a warmth on his arm and looked down to see that Pippin was looking up at him with concern on one side and Merry on the other.

 

‘Is it the sea-longing?’ Merry asked and Legolas frowned.

 

‘No! No,’ he said more gently. ‘No indeed, that is…that is a joy to my heart although still a bewilderment… No. I was just a little homesick.’ He smiled slightly.

 

‘I get that too, don’t I, Merry?’ Pippin turned to Merry who nodded. ‘I miss the Shire. I miss Longbottom Leaf and ale and beer. I miss the white bread and butter and cheese and pickles and ham and eggs and bacon and tomatoes and …’

 

Grateful for such distraction, Legolas laughed and spread his hand out towards the considerable feast before them.

 

‘I know,’ said Pippin and he helped himself plentifully to the slices of ham and bread and cheese and pickles and butter. ‘But it just doesn’t taste the same,’ he said with his mouthful.

 

Suddenly a man dashed through the tent door, looking about in consternation. The hobbits and elf looked at him and when he saw them, he looked intensely relieved and sketched a hasty bow. ‘My lord,’ he said to Legolas, who almost twitched as if he wanted to shrug off the title that he did not care for. ‘Please will you come with me. His gracious majesty has asked that you attend him.’

 

Legolas sighed and rose to his feet. ‘So soon? Farewell then my friends. Think of me when the hour is long past noon and I am still listening to Aragorn’s many advisors and lords telling us again how glorious is the King, how he has single-handedly vanquished the forces of all darkness and evil, how the land is more fertile and the animals gone silly with breeding, how flowers blossom where his feet touch the grass.’ He laughed merrily and tossed the crystal goblet in his hand ignoring the smothered cries of the servants. ‘Tell the King I am coming. But I have something else to do first.’

 

Sam and Frodo were still asleep when he left the delicate flowers in the crystal goblet on the table beside them. Carefully placed so it would be the first thing Sam saw when he opened his eyes. And only then did he go to the council of the King Returned.

 

0o0o

 

When he arrived at Aragorn’s council tent, the wing-helmed guards snapped to attention and stood aside to let him pass.

 

Aragorn was standing amongst his gathered lords, half bent over a map and his hair was in his eyes.

 

‘…we must search in Minas Morgul,’ he was saying as Legolas entered. ‘We need to be sure there are no secret enemy forces.’  The captains and the great men of Gondor  were seated or standing around the long oak table upon which were spread huge maps of Gondor. All had the weary expressions of those who had been long in debate and discussion. Aragorn glanced up irritably at Legolas’ entrance and then softened when he saw it was his friend.

 

 

Gandalf raised an eyebrow and Gimli turned and hurrumped emphatically. Legolas flashed him a smile but his attention was all on Elrohir who sat at Aragorn’s side, a cane resting against one thigh, his beautiful face impassive but his eyes were smokey with lust the moment Legolas walked in. Legolas inclined his head to the gathered lords, grateful that Eomer was not there. Imrahil smiled warmly.

 

Legolas walked behind the gathered lords and captains and although they made as if to part for him so he could stand at the front of the long table and opposite Aragorn, he waved his hand carelessly in dismissal and indicated he would stand further back. In truth he wanted to gaze at Elrohir, to look his fill and to distract him if he could. 

 

‘If indeed the forces of Sauron have been vanquished, there will be nothing there anyway.’ One of Gondor’s great lords spoke. He was a tall man with grey hair and leaned upon a cane much as Elrohir. But this was not through injury but through infirmity; Legolas remembered that Bard had done the same as he grew old. ‘Surely you do not wish to risk our remaining men to satisfy mere curiosity?’ the old man declared. There was a slight stirring amongst the gathering, one Legolas recognised from his father’s court; some would be anxious at the implied slight to the new King, others would agree.

 

‘Curiosity now may well mean greater security in the future,’ said Aragorn calmly. ‘We may catch any stragglers, any strays who might later attack our settlements. Or there may be some greater danger of which we do not yet know.’

 

‘We have already said much on this,’ Gandalf said impatiently. ‘Minas Morgul was the den of the Nazgûl. It must be searched and then razed.’

 

Legolas stifled a sigh and was already bored; he knew they would go to Minas Morgul as Gandalf desired and search the ruined city to make sure the Nazgûl had truly departed with Sauron. He wondered why they even bothered discussing it.

 

He watched the sun catch in raven-black hair instead of listening, stared in fascinated lust at the rounded tip of Elrohir’s ear and thought about running his finger along the edge. His sigh was louder this time and several men glanced his way although none said anything. Gimli nudged him and shot him a look.

 

‘Here is the road from Osgiliath,’ Aragorn stabbed his finger down onto the map. ‘And here,’ he ran his finger along the thick black line that marked the road, ‘is Minas Morgul. Can you not see, it is the most strategic point on the river, our mainstay….’

 

Legolas stopped listening again and drifted around the back of the gathered lords as if he were going to peer over Aragorn’s shoulder at the map, to get a better view.

 

It took him directly behind Elrohir’s chair, and when he leaned forwards slightly as if to look at the map, he let his breath drift over the back of Elrohir’s head, it lifted one or two strands of his long black-silk hair and Elrohir turned his head ever so slightly towards Legolas, standing close, too close, behind him. Elrohir’s lips turned upwards slightly and then he turned back to face all the generals and lords.

 

‘I wager we will be leaving at dawn,’ Legolas whispered so quietly against Elrohir’s ear, deliberately letting his breath caress it and was pleased at the shiver it brought. ‘Will you miss me?’

 

Elrohir shifted uncomfortably and Legolas smiled and let his hand surreptitiously trace the straight spine of his beloved who was trying so hard to concentrate.

 

‘...the bands that escaped the assault on the Morannon will have taken to the hills here...’ Aragorn was pointing to an outstretched map in the middle of the table. ‘And here too, in the Morgul Vale.’

 

‘I will be glad of some rest,’ Elrohir murmured below the hearing of Men, he turned his face slightly towards Legolas and smiled. ‘I find myself quite worn out’

 

Legolas raised an eyebrow. ‘Then I will find you well rested on my return,’ he whispered back. Aragorn glared at them for a moment, and Legolas flashed him a brilliant smile.

 

‘The Morgul Vale is where the Nazgûl dwelt,’ Aragorn repeated Gandalf’s earlier point. ‘It is an evil place and I need to know if it is quite vacated or if there is some evil lingering. Are all their winged beasts dead or do they have more kept in there?’

 

‘I will take a troop of riders to search the old city, my lord, if you wish?’ Imrahil said smoothly, as if he and Aragorn had not prearranged precisely this conversation to persuade the lords and captains of the necessity. ‘Twenty will suffice will it not, if it is merely to search the ruins and others search the hills, the Vale itself? Perhaps my lords Elladan and Elrohir will come. And perhaps you too, my lords?’ He bowed slightly to Gimli and then Legolas who grinned excitedly at Aragorn. ‘We will be sufficient.’

 

‘I am delighted to be of service, my lord,’ he said to Aragorn as Aragorn had intended him to. ‘And the dwarf will be very grumpy if he does not ride at my back….But my lord Elrohir should not go. He is not recovered.’

 

Elrohir began to protest but Aragorn spoke over him. ‘Certainly not. He cannot even stand for a council, let alone ride to Minas Morgul. No, he will stay here.’

 

‘I am more than capable…’ Elrohir tried to say but Legolas cut across him.

 

‘Good. That is settled. Gimli and I will go with Elladan and my lord, Imrahil. Will we not be enough, Gimli, to check out a few wee beasties?’ He laughed brightly and flashed another smile at Aragorn.

 

Elrohir began to rise to his feet, protesting,  but Legolas was always stronger than he and firmly pushed him back into his chair.

 

‘Stay,’ he said lightly, humorously. ‘You will slow us down.’ But the smile he gave was soft with love although Elrohir did not return it. Nor did he meet his gaze.

 

 

00o0oo0o

 

 

 

Elrohir seethed. Legolas had dismissed him as easily as Aragorn, he thought, cursing under his breath. How dare they talk over him, deciding for him if he were strong enough to ride, to fight, to go with the company to Minas Morgul!

 

He leaned heavily on the ebony cane and limped over to the heavy wooden table that someone had thought it necessary to bring all this way and put into a tent for his comfort. One handed, he pulled the stopper from a cut glass decanter, equally unnecessary, and poured himself red wine into a crystal goblet. He looked around himself in contempt, feeling the familiar surge of fury swirl around him.

 

Not gone. No. The fury and self-contempt was still there.

 

Just because Angmar and Sauron have  gone does not mean I am whole, he ground out at himself, hating himself. Hating his weakness.

 

A bright shadow fell across the doorway of the tent and suddenly Legolas was there, catching him by the elbow, steering him to the carved chair near the tent doorway.

 

‘You should not be on your feet! Here, let me.’

 

Elrohir shook him off and turned glaring at him. ‘I am not an invalid. Nor a fool!’

 

Legolas took a step back. His eyes were wide with astonishment. ‘I know. I just…’

 

‘You just treat me like one! You and Aragorn talking over me like I am some whining whelp still wet from its mother’s milk! How dare you speak for me!’

 

But Legolas was not easily intimidated either and he bristled right on back. ‘Then stop whining like one. You are injured.’

 

‘In my leg not in my head!’

 

‘And you cannot ride!’

 

‘You treat me like I cannot think for myself, cannot do anything myself.’

 

Legolas bit his lip and sighed, as if he had suddenly remembered what it was like himself, for he too was recently recovered and  perhaps not entirely himself either.

 

‘I know.’ He held out a hand, soothingly, placatingly. ‘I am sorry. I only want to help, to look after you. Sit down please and let me do this for you.’

 

But Elrohir was too angry, and his leg hurt, throbbed wildly. ‘For the last time, stop treating me like I am an invalid.’

 

‘You are an invalid,’ Legolas pointed out reasonably. ‘But that does not make you a fool.’ He stood for a moment and then said, ‘I am sorry I talked over you.’

 

‘I am mildly wounded.’ Elrohir stumped heavily over to the chair, but no matter that he tried and was careful, he spilled wine over his hand and sleeve. ’Fuck! Manwë’s shit!’ He collapsed into the chair and threw the cane down so he could clasp his leg with his free hand.

 

Legolas stood over him, hands on his hips and his mouth a thin line of frustration. ‘You nearly died. You can hardly stand.’

 

‘And you are suffocating me.’ It burst out of Elrohir from the pain and anger.

 

Legolas breathed in suddenly, almost a gasp and Elrohir felt like clapping his hand over his mouth as if he might take back those words; he would drive Legolas away.

 

‘Then forgive me my concern.’ Legolas stepped away, hands spread and Elrohir’s heart dropped away as if he were falling from a great height. Of course. Legolas would leave now and with time and distance, he would wonder why in all of Arda he had taken up with one so soiled and corrupted as Elrohir.

 

The Wood-elf turned away, stepping back towards the tent entrance and stood for a moment looking out at the sunshine, the brightness of the sky, perhaps wishing he had never come in here in the first place, thought Elrohir. His own mouth was tight with pain for his injury jangled and pulled. He pressed his hand over the nerves higher up to try to subdue it.

 

Then Legolas sighed. ‘If I am suffocating you, do you wish me to leave you?’ He did not say if he would simply leave the tent now and come back later or if he meant forever. But Elrohir swallowed; he could not bear either and he knew he would have to swallow his pride as he had before. He would have to submit to Legolas. As he had promised….But it was hard.

 

‘No,’ he said slowly. ‘I just…I have been my own man for centuries, ridden the mountains and glens and fought. I have been hurt more times than I can remember…I…I find it hard to be nursemaided. Elladan does not do it and I do not want it from you. It diminishes me.’

 

Legolas turned back to Elrohir then and a smile was on his face. ‘I understand,’ he said and knelt before Elrohir, his lovely face turned up to him in wonder. ‘It’s just I have never felt this way before about anyone.’

 

Elrohir refused to think perhaps that this was a well-worn phrase for Legolas; he knew Legolas had had many lovers before Elrohir, and Elrohir had not. And he had never, ever told anyone he loved them, but he thought perhaps Legolas had.

 

‘Let us make an agreement then,’ Legolas said and smiled. He rested his hand upon Elrohir’s thigh. ‘If either of us is doing something hazardous,’ and here he flashed a quick glance up into Elrohir’s face as if to gauge his reaction, ‘our measure will be Gimli. If we would seek to prevent Gimli from doing whatever it is that one of us intends, then the other can remonstrate. But if we would not try to prevent Gimli, then we must be silent and endure.’ His smile became a grin then and Elrohir smiled back.

 

‘I can live with that; if Gimli said he was going to climb to the topmost branch of that oak, I would be able to stop him because as a dwarf, he would not be safe.’ Elrohir met his gaze now, the green-gold that stroked him, looked over him like a caress.

 

Legolas laughed softly. ‘And if Gimli said he was going to swim that mighty river or cross the Hithaeglir in Winter, I would stop him because he is too short and would be lost in a snow drift.’ His hand on Elrohir’s thigh pressed a little more, slid upwards. Their eyes met. ‘It will take us time, beloved.’

 

Elrohir reached out and stroked a finger over Legolas’s cheek, just because he could. He gazed at the Woodelf, a slight smile on his lips, disbelieving.

 

‘What?’ Legolas asked lightly, seeing the intensity of scrutiny in Elrohir’s gaze. ‘Do I have something on my face? In my hair? In my teeth?’

 

Elrohir dropped his hand. He looked away for a moment and then back to his beloved’s face. ‘No. I just cannot believe you could love me.’

 

Legolas made a sound that was part sad and part irritated. ‘How can you doubt it? You are Ravéyön.’ And though Elrohir cringed at the epesse, Legolas tightened his hold on Elrohir’s thigh slightly, but to reassure not to caress. ‘You saved me three times, from the Nazgûl no less. You defeated the Brethren gathered to take you into shadow. You are the Son of Thunder. How could I not fall helplessly at your feet?’ he said extravagantly and looked adoringly into Elrohir’s face. He leaned towards him, close and then pressed his mouth against Elrohir’s, kissed him deeply. When at last he pulled away, he murmured, ‘Never forget, Elrohir, my beloved, I am utterly yours. Every bit of me is yours. My heart and soul and body.’

 

Elrohir lifted his hand then to Legolas’ cheek and cupped it so Legolas turned his lovely face into his palm and kissed it. ‘I do not deserve you.

 

‘Was I won too lightly then?’ Legolas said laughing and pulled away.

 

Elrohir shook his head but in his heart, a little quaver of doubt seeded itself. Was Legolas too lightly won? Not by Elrohir for he had fought hard and the battle between them both had been long and at times, bitter. But Eomer had won him first. And that had, by all accounts, been a swift and brief courtship. Too lightly won? Perhaps. He did not speak of his concern though, but held it within.

 

‘I do not deserve you,’ he repeated instead, and he meant it with all his heart.

 

 

0o0o

 

 

 

 

Later Legolas found Gimli with the hobbits. Frodo still was very pale but Sam was leaning against the trunk of an old alder and staring up into its leaves with an expression of wonder.

 

‘Mornin’ Legolas,’ he called as he saw the elf approach. He wore some of the wildflowers in his buttonhole and Legolas saw that Frodo wore some too. ‘Look, someone keeps leaving us wildflowers. The scent reminds me of home,’ Sam said with delight.

 

‘That’s Le…’

 

‘That’s lovely,’ Legolas interrupted Pippin and pressed a hand against the littlest hobbit’s shoulder. Pippin looked up at Legolas and shook his head slightly in exasperation.

 

‘Gimli and I are departing in an hour,’ Legolas said and threw himself down upon the grass beside them.

 

‘What? You can’t be!’ Frodo exclaimed and the other hobbits joined their voices to his. But Legolas held up his hand.

 

‘Peace friends. Not to home, but on a task for Aragorn. We are to join Elladan and Imrahil for a short ride. Only to Minas Morgul. To check it is uninhabited.’

 

‘Minas Morgul?’ Frodo said with a shudder. ‘That is an evil place. I would not wish to go back there for anything.’ Sam looked at him in concern and then staggered to his feet to tuck the blanket around Frodo’ knees more tightly. But Frodo seized his hand for a moment and stopped him and they shared a look that Legolas found struck him to the core.

 

‘Forgive me, my friends,’ Legolas said softly, penitently. ‘I am a clumsy fool.’

 

‘Please don’t go there, Legolas,’ Sam said quietly. ‘It is as Mister Frodo says, an awful place. There are guardians and they watch…their eyes follow you. It is where the Nazgûl are.’ His voice trembled ever so slightly and Legolas winced. He caught Gimli looking at him with his deep brown eyes and the dwarf shook his head ever so slightly.

 

‘And they don’t like you very much,’ Pippin could not help saying to Legolas as he had that morning. ‘I don’t think you or Gimli should go. We’ve only just got back together after all!’

 

Legolas looked chagrined. He had not thought that the hobbits would be upset and he would not do that for the world.

 

‘Aragorn has asked us,’ Gimli said,  coming to his rescue.

 

‘And Gandalf is going,’ Legolas added reassuringly. But Pippin just looked cross at that although he did not say why.

 

 ‘The Nazgûl have gone, Pippin,’ Merry added. He shook Pippin’s arm slightly as if to get Pippin’s attention for the hobbit was still looking concerned and fixed upon Legolas.

 

‘That’s true enough.’ Gimli took his pipe out of his mouth and glared at it as if it were the pipe’s fault. ‘They were vanquished with Sauron’s downfall.’ He jabbed the end towards Legolas. ‘If that were not the case, d’you think I would be letting this one skip off to Minas Morgul like it was a picnic?’

 

Legolas would once have bristled at that, now he smiled.

 

‘They were servants of the Ring,’ Legolas said gently. He twirled a blade of grass between his fingers, looking at the leaf blade and wondering at it as he spoke.  ‘They were bound to it. I am sure Gandalf will know if that is not the case.’

 

‘I am not so sure.’ Frodo’s voice was uncertain and he had still spoken so rarely since they were reunited that they all turned to listen. ‘They were able to exist before …. before he came back into the world.’ Frodo tried to swallow but it was as if his throat was dry though the day was mellow and balmy. But for a moment, Legolas knew Frodo did not see the grass or hear the river; he knew what Frodo saw for he had seen it himself. He too had been hunted by the Nazgûl, in the Wood near Dol Guldur and on the mountainside of the Mindolluin. Yet how much worse it must have been for Frodo.

 

Legolas hummed lightly under his breath. A Song of small streams babbling over stones and pooling in shady dells, of fields of barley ripening in the warm sun, of green woodlands full of birdsong…He listened for the hobbits’ song, and heard Pippin, Merry…Sam gently coming back. But Frodo’s song was not there. He was still locked in memory of the Ring, of Mordor and Legolas’ song almost faltered. But he hummed Pippin’s song instead and found Pippin humming along with him, his light and merry heart lifted Legolas too. Frodo’ face relaxed a little and though he did not smile, the lines at his mouth eased.

 

Gimli tutted and sucked again on his pipe, trying to light it.

 

‘Here,’ Sam said and took the pipe from Gimli. He lit it easily and puffed a few smoke rings. ‘Gandalf has been teaching me,’ he said a little bashfully. ‘When I’ve been sitting with Frodo.’

 

Legolas felt suddenly, inexplicably overwhelmed. Anything he might have endured paled beside what Sam and Frodo had been through; it humbled him completely. He bowed his head and twirled the blade of grass between his fingers so he had time to control the emotion that wanted to burst from his chest.

 

‘And Gandalf going with you,’ Merry added reassuringly.

 

‘Yes. I am.’

 

All faces turned up towards the blaze of white that gentled and spread a warmth amongst them.

 

‘Well,’ Frodo spoke but his voice was still unhappy. ‘That should be all right then.’ But Pippin looked away and would not quite meet Gandalf’s eyes.

 

 

0o0o

 

tbc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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