The Heart Wants What it Wants|
Summary: When Legolas receives a warning from Galadriel that casts doubt upon his future, Gimli learns sometimes words said in ignorance will come back to haunt you.
Note: I must acknowledge a direct quote from Tolkien in the second half of this, orginally spoken by Gimli in the Fellowship of the Ring.
"It is not that easy."
The elf curled into himself high in the treetops so the dwarf, peering up from his position on the ground, could barely see him.
"How is it not easy, Legolas? Tell me. We have talked about every angle of this for days. I thought you agreed we would continue. I thought I had convinced you of the rightness of this. We have no option."
"Will burn in fire if we do not destroy the ring. You know this."
In a blur of green and gold, the elf unfurled himself, then somersaulted to the ground, landing so close to the dwarf he blinked in surprise.
"I must put them first always,” Legolas was all intensity. “How do I decide where I benefit them best when I do not know what happens there? It is a war for survival in our woods. Do they survive without me? Does my father need my expertise in the South? What point is there remaining with the Ring-bearer if, at the end of this, there is no Greenwood left to save?"
The dwarf tugged at his beard in frustration. They had had this conversation already. They had reached a resolution, he thought, and yet here they were speaking on this all over again.
It was wearisome.
"What is the point of returning to the woods if, without you, we fail and Sauron conquers all?"
He watched as the elf tossed his head in annoyance, pale gold hair swirling around his face.
"You give me far too much credit, Gimli. You have Aragorn and Boromir—I add little to the Fellowship."
"If you are really of so little importance, so inconsequential, your father will not miss you surely. You may as well stay with us since you are here." The dwarf sat himself down on a log with a thud, arms folded and smiling smugly. He was quite pleased with this last argument. Outsmarting the elf and using his words against him, for he was a slippery customer and difficult to pin down at the best of times.
"And besides, we promised Elrond—"
He was cut off before he could elaborate further by a burst of silvan anger, which was both alarming and unexpected.
"I promised nothing to him! I gave my word to the Ring-bearer to accompany him thus far. My people have suffered much due to the oaths of the Noldor. I will not be forsworn to Elrond Earendilion!"
These elves were so prickly, the dwarf decided. And so reluctant to let go of the ancient history which dogged their steps. He wondered, sometimes, how they managed to achieve anything at all. Still, he held his hands up in submission. He did not wish to fight with the elf now for he had learnt from experience that would achieve nothing at all.
"Peace, Legolas. I did not mean to suggest that. But this is Aragorn we speak of now. He is our leader. It will be him you follow and he would never try to bind you with an oath you did not wish to make. Follow him because you wish to, because it is the right thing. You can do that without swearing to it. You can always leave us if we receive news of your people that is not to your liking."
The elf before him hung his head then and, suddenly, seemed inexplicably tired.
"They are such a burden, Gimli, my people. They are forever in my thoughts, and the right way is hidden from me. . ."
He felt sorry for him then, for he looked at once both young and vulnerable. He knew he, himself, was lucky, for he did not bear the weight of a people who struggled for survival. He was not a prince and so was free to follow his heart. Perhaps that was exactly what he should advise?
"Listen to your heart, Legolas, for it will show you the right way always,” he said in the end. “What is right for you. And if it should tell you your place is with your people, none of us will judge you.
“Listen to your heart and you cannot go wrong."
He found the elf where he knew he would. Up in the very heights of the place, perched on the walls at the end of what had been a very tiring climb up winding steps. Why he always felt the need to retreat to places so high the dwarf did not know.
It was a very annoying characteristic.
"What are you doing up here, Lad?" He asked. "Why must I always climb so many steps to find you?"
He received a smile for his troubles. A brilliant, glorious smile which, like a ray of light, lifted his heart. Oh, he would miss that smile; he would miss the elf's light in the crushing darkness that surrounded them.
"I have been thinking, Gimli," was the reply, "and the path ahead is clear to me."
The dwarf was pleased then, even though it meant he would lose him, that Legolas had at least seen sense.
"Good," he said firmly so there was no room left for doubt of his support in this. "I am pleased, Legolas."
"Yes," Legolas rose to his feet then and stood looking out toward the horizon. The wind caught his hair so that fine strands of gold whipped across his face. A face that was composed and at peace. A face, the dwarf thought, of an elf convinced of his rightness. . . As they so often were.
“I will follow Aragorn to the Paths of the Dead and beyond. I can do no other."
And the dwarf recoiled in horror. That was not the right decision.
"Are you mad, Legolas?" He cried. "The Paths of the Dead will lead you to the sea! You cannot do this."
"I cannot not do this, Gimli. Aragorn needs me, you need me."
"Aragorn has his brothers, those brooding Sons of Elrond and I. . . I do not need you, Legolas. What I need is for you to live, to take yourself somewhere safe, to heed the Lady's message."
But the elf would not listen. It seemed to the dwarf he did not possess an ounce of commonsense.
"Nowhere is safe for any of us, Gimli," he said calmly. "There is nowhere I can go that will be safer than at your side."
"What of your people?" The dwarf clutched now at fast disappearing straws. “Are their Princes so plentiful they can afford to lose you? What of them, Legolas? What of your father?"
He almost wished he had not said the words when he saw the look of grief and sorrow on the face of his elven friend that followed in their wake.
"My father will understand," Legolas said quietly, head down, face half hidden behind a fall of silky hair. "If I am fated not to see him again this side of the sea, he will understand and I will find him in Valinor. The Valar themselves cannot keep me from him. And my people. . . You said it yourself, their best hope lies with Frodo. Anything I do to aid him will aid them, also."
The dwarf was panicked now for surely Legolas would not do this. He could not lose him! The two of them would not be meeting again in Valinor after all. How had it come to this, that he would lose this elf when he had only just discovered him? What had happened to make the death of an elf shatter him so? For the idea of it froze his heart, until, he felt, it would cease to beat.
"You have sworn no oath, Legolas.” He pleaded now in desperation, "You did that purposely. In Lothlorien, you said you would not be tied to our fate if it did not benefit your people. Aragorn has nothing with which to hold you here and nor will he. See sense, I beg you. Now is the time for you to go. Ride with Theoden and Eomer if you will not go home. Meet us in Minas Tirith."
And the elf turned to him and smiled. Not the brilliant smile of before, but, instead, a small and gentle one.
"You spoke wise words to me in Lothlorien, Gimli, and I have thought on them. You told me to follow my heart. Now that heart leads me wherever you might go. Yes, I have made no vow, spoken no oath—I am not forsworn—but my heart has a made a vow of its own. I cannot break it.
“I am not afraid. Whatever lies ahead will not defeat me. My place is with Aragorn, and with you. Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens."
Oh, his own words now used against him, like poisoned darts they pierced his heart. And what could he say in reply except the wisdom Lord Elrond had spoken when he, himself, first said them, so long ago, as he basked in the light of Imladris. Wisdom he had not, until this moment of impenetrable darkness, understood.
"Let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall, Legolas."
"I have seen it Gimli. I have seen the dark, for I have grown to adulthood amongst it, and I will not cower from it. I will not."
He had argued so hard for Legolas to accompany them beyond Lothlorien. . . He had put his heart and soul into convincing him. He had said those words, implored him to do what it was his heart desired.
He would take that all back now—if he could. He would give up every day with his friend to save him from whatever fate awaited him when they reached the gulls, and the sea.
If only he had known what lay ahead. If only he could have seen where the road would lead them.
It was too late. He could not take back his words. He could not rewrite the days. He could not bend Legolas' heart to his will. He could not keep his friend safe. For Legolas wished this, and though it tore at the depths of the dwarf’s soul he could not force his friend to obey him.
He would not.
And so his own heart wept.
And it was this pain of his own making that broke him.