A Bit of Stone|
Summary: Gimli is in search of a bit of stone. Legolas wants to know the purpose of it.
“Your people have begun mining here?”
Gimli started at the sound of the mournful voice, despite the softness of the whisper in which it had spoken.
Legolas's first view of Aglarond, though it had been a larger cavern than the one they currently occupied, had left him speechless, as indeed had Gimli been when he first gazed upon the beauty of the Glittering Caves. Gimli had overcome that enchantment upon taking up residency, though. Eventually, Legolas had overcome it as well, though it took several visits.
Still, words were rarely spoken in this cavern. It was small—one of many that had been hidden away from all knowledge prior to the arrival of the Dwarven colony. Previously unseen and untouched, its beauty was as pristine as the dawn of creation to Gimli when it was discovered. Thus, he had made it his private sanctuary—a place off limits to picks and hammers, and even eyes, save those of Gimli and his invited guests.
Within the cavern, the friends would simply enjoy each other’s company in silence, content to bask in the beauty of the gem-strewn stone—twinkling blues and greens, reds and yellows and purples, and the whites that glimmered like stars in the night sky.
Gimli could hear unspoken dismay and disapproval in Legolas’s voice at the realization that their sanctuary had been mined since his last visit. Turning to gaze upon his friend, Gimli could plainly see it in Legolas’s expression, as well.
He looks as though he may actually burst into tears, Gimli mused, feeling somewhat dismayed himself at the thought of Legolas’s heart suffering another blow. The elf’s emotions had begun to dwell much too close to the surface since Aragorn’s passing. When Arwen had departed, also… He cannot bear much more hurt, I fear.
“Nay, my friend. My people know well I would have the head of anyone who dared,” Gimli consoled, striding over to where his friend stood beside a wall than Gimli had long since come to realize was Legolas’s particularly favorite bit of stone within all of Aglarond.
He had once asked the elf what it was that drew the elf to that spot whenever he visited. Legolas had then explained that the stone there shimmered with greens and browns, reds and oranges, in just such a pattern that it reminded him of the Greenwood, before the shadow darkened it. Further, the daft elf claimed that when he gazed upon that bit of stone, it was as if he had been transported back in time to a bright day some autumn long ago and laying upon the ground beneath the trees, marveling as the leaves glowed in the sunlight filtering down from above and seemed almost to flicker as they rustled in the gently breeze.
Daft elf! Gimli reiterated silently, shaking his head in amusement at the memory. Only he could see leaves within a random assortment of metals and crystals.
“Yet, someone has mined here, none-the-less,” Legolas lamented. “My leaves are gone.”
Gimli turned his attention to the area of stone upon which Legolas gazed mournfully. He had never been able to see the leaves, himself, but he could see a mining scar in the stone plainly enough. He sighed. This is not going well at all. I should have planned better.
“Indeed, my friend,” Gimli reluctantly admitted, after a moment’s hesitation. “Your leaves are gone.” He patted Legolas consoling, before confessing, “But it was not just anyone who is to blame; it is I.”
Gimli could feel the betrayal in Legolas’s gaze, even before he dared turn to meet the elf’s eyes.
“B…but…why?” Legolas choked out in a stammer.
“I needed it,” Gimli stated simply, his chin lifting a bit in defiance of the hurt in his friend’s eye.
“Needed it?” Gimli flinched as the sorrow in his friend’s voice began to shift into bitterness. “Needed to desecrate this place? My place? You knew what it meant to me! Surely, there can be nothing of so great import that the Lord of Aglarond could not have found what needed elsewhere,” Legolas spat in reply.
“Nay,” Gimli declared vehemently. “This was the only stone that would fulfill the need I had of it.”
Emotion swirled in Legolas’s eyes with the fury of a great tempest, determined to blow away all in its path. Gimli gaze did not waver, though, as after a moment, it was Legolas’s gaze that fell away.
“Indeed, you are lord here,” the elf acknowledged woefully. “I have no more right to claim this bit of stone as mine own than you would to claim a copse of trees in the Greenwood and Ithilien.”
“Come, my friend,” Gimli prodded, patting his friend’s back once more. “Let us not quarrel now, when our hearts are so laden with grief for those lost to us. On my honor, I swear to you that your leaves were not sacrificed in vain.”
Legolas nodded in acceptance of his friend’s olive branch.
“Come now, help me find my own bit of stone,” Gimli asked. “For I have one last project of great import that I must complete before you forsake these lands in favor of Aman.”
Legolas' eyes flew up to meet Gimli’s, his gaze filled with confusion and alarm. “Before I forsake these lands… Should it not be we?”
“Mmm,” Gimli replied, with a non-committal shrug. “That is a discussion for another time, my friend. Right now, I have stone to find… So, come, take a turn around the cavern with me. The right stone will call to me if I but listen, and I always hear better when you listen with me.”
Legolas smiled, half-heartedly, before giving the scar that once was his leaves a departing pat and allowing Gimli to tug him away. “I would help, I think, to know what the stone’s purpose is.”
Gimli flapped a hand dismissively. “That is a discussion for another time, as well,” he declared, before adding with a chuckle, “Besides, I think your expertise lay still in the best use of trees rather than stone, despite all your many visits.”
Legolas tossed his friend a wan half-smile, before falling silently in step with the Gimli. He said no more as they wandered, but even with his focus on the stone around them, the dwarf felt Legolas’s patient presence, and it warmed his heart.
Even angry, he supports me, Gimli mused, with a smile. Aule granted me a great gift indeed in this friendship, odd though it may seem to the rest of Middle-earth.
The smile fell away abruptly, though, as his gaze fell upon a patch of stone he surely must have seen before and yet could not recall it. The dark stone glistened as though polished, but that was not what set it apart. There were many such patches as glistening stone in Aglarond. But this one… This one was sparkled also with seems of glimmering quartz, which itself was laced with find strands of gold that so closely resembled the fine strands of his Lady Galadriel’s hair that Gimli’s heart soared at the sight of it nearly as much as if the Lady herself had appeared suddenly before him.
“You have found your bit of stone, then,” remarked Legolas, breaking Gimli from the enchantment he had fallen under. Turning, Gimli answered with a broad grin and a short nod. “You have not brought any tools with you.” Legolas observed. “Shall we go and fetch some? Even an elf knows that stone doesn’t not cut,” he added with a wink.
Gimli barked with laughter, before replying, “Indeed, my friend. But, nay, I think not. Now that it has been found, it think it will wait for me. It’s is your last night here. Let us enjoy more merrily now that this task it completed.”
“Let us, indeed,” Legolas agreed, grinning properly, at last, as he clapped his friend on the shoulder. “And perhaps, we may find the time to discuss the many matters that are waiting for ‘another time’”, he added with a wink of his own.
“Nay, my friend,” Gimli countered, growing serious once more. “That shall also wait...until your next visit, I think.”
“Mmm,” Legolas replied, frowning. “If it must be, it must, I suppose. I shall let it go, for now. But do not think I will forget before I visit next.”
“Forget?” Gimli laughed. “Nay, I do not think it. For an elf is much like an Oliphant in more ways than possession of large, flapping ears,” he declared, then paused to wait for a look of indignation from his friend.
Legolas, though, merely laughed, before prodding, “Oh? And in what other way do we resemble an Oliphant?”
“Hmm,” Gimli hummed, “It is said an Oliphant never forgets…and neither does an elf.”
Legolas laughed again, as he followed his friend out of their cavern and toward the merry feast that had begun without them.
Many months passed before Legolas’s next visit, but Gimli had expected that would be the case. Afterall, Legolas had a ship to craft, and a proper ship, as with anything done properly, was not built overnight. Gimli had, in fact, counted on having that time to complete, or at least nearly so, his own projects before the elf returned.
“Elvellon!” Legolas greeted as Gimli strolled out to meet him. “It is good to see you again, my friend.”
“And you,” the dwarf replied. “You have come with a good appetite, I hope, for a feast to rival even that of the great Elvenking Thranduil has been planned for the night.” He winked, and Legolas laughed.
“Good, good! For it shall be easier to glean information from a drunk dwarf,” the elf replied with a wink of his own.
Gimli laughed. “You have not forgotten, I see.”
“I have not,” declared Legolas.
“Well, then, let us not linger,” Gimli suggested, growing abruptly serious. “We shall have the discussion first, while clearer minds prevail.”
Legolas nodded his willingness and followed, as Gimli strode toward his room. Once inside, he directed Legolas toward a large bundle. It was wrapped as though mid-way through preparation to load it upon a cart for delivery.
Gimli could feel Legolas’s curious gaze fix on him as he began to gently unwrap the bundle. “Your leaves,” he murmured as he worked. A smile crept onto his lips as he heard a sigh of wonder escape the elf’s lips.
“It…it is…magnificent!” Legolas stammered. Awe-struck, his hand reached out almost of its own accord and lightly traced the graceful vines and leaves of the finely carved stone bench.
“I am relieved that you think so,” answered Gimli. “For it would have been a poor gift to you had I sacrificed for leaves for less than magnificent.”
Legolas gaze shifted to Gimli, and the dwarf saw tears in his eyes.
“My friend,” Legolas began, his voice nearly choked with emotion. “How can I ever hope to reciprocate such a gift as this? There are no words, no deeds, no craft within my skill that could ever equal it.”
Gimli waved a dismissive hand. “Nonsense!” he barked. “For it is given as reciprocation for the gift you have already given.” Legolas brow raised in puzzlement. “Your friendship, daft elf,” he clarified.
“None of that now,” he insisted, a moment later, as tears trickled down Legolas’s cheeks.
“It was your friendship that was the gift,” Legolas whispered, clasping Gimli by the shoulder. “Thus, I am a gift behind, I think.” Gimli shifted uncomfortable. “Surely, there must be some means by which I can reciprocate, though I cannot think what that may be…”
Gimli grew still, drawing Legolas’s attention to his eyes. “But you have just thought of what that may be?” the elf asked.
Gimli nodded and gestured for Legolas to follow and he moved across the room to another covered lump—this one was large and squarer than the bench. Gimli removed the covering with one swift yank and grimaced as Legolas gasped again, this time in dismay.
“Gimli!” the elf cried. “That is…is that…it cannot be…”
“Legolas,” Gimli soothed, his hands raised placatingly. “Please, understand, my friend,” he begged. “It must be this way. I could not rest in peace in Aman; it is no place for a dwarf. My place is hear, upon the soil of my forefathers…”
“But…” Gimli raised a hand to stop Legolas’s protest.
“That is the gift you can gift me,” he explained. “One final, magnificent gift…” Legolas brow furrowed in bewilderment, so Gimli continued, “You journey with me, one last time, to Cerin Amroth, for that is where I wish to lay.”
“But, surely, it is too soon,” Legolas insisted, pleadingly. “You may have many years left…”
Gimli stopped him with another raised hand. “Please, my friend,” he replied. “I am worn and tired. My usefulness in life and to my people diminishes daily. Better than prove my worth to my Lady and guard in death that piece of her that she left behind forever.”
“Arwen…” Legolas breathed.
Gimli nodded. “Please, if you truly wish to give me a gift of equal magnitude, say will accompany me, and stay with me until I have departed upon my final path.”
Tears fell from his eyes and choked his voice, so Legolas could only nod his acquiescence.
“Thank you, my friend,” Gimli replied, earnestly. “It is truly the greatest gift you could grant me, aside from your friendship, which I shall forever cherish.”
Legolas squeezed Gimli’s shoulder, as he worked to regain his composure. Managing it after a several deep breaths, Legolas force a smile upon his face and stated, wryly, “I see now, my clever friend, why decided to speak first and then drink.”
Gimli laughed. “Indeed, my friend, shall we endeavor, once more, to see if an elf can drink a dwarf under the table every time we play this game?”
Legolas nodded his approval and, with a final glance at the beautiful carved sarcophagus, allowed his friend to lead him toward the feasting his hall.
A/N: While it is oft taken as canon that Gimli sailed with Legolas, according to the Appendices, it is only rumored, not known as fact.