A/N: They say beauty is in the eye
of the beholder. But what if the fanfics had it all wrong?
Disclaimer: Nothing of Tolkien’s
make is mine. I play around with these folks from time to time, but
in the I always try to put them back neatly on the shelf when I’m
done tooling around with them. I bow to J.R.R.’s greatness and his
Lelana pushed the peas once more with
the back of her spoon, imagining the green orbs to be engaged in a silent
race of wills, contesting to see who could cross the moat of gravy quickest.
Pea Three, the one with the slight dent in the side, was by far the
slowest, while pea Four, the one that was a shade lighter than his companions,
was clearly spry and winning the majority of his races. She nodded to
her plate, as if it had a say in the outcome, and lined her peas up
along the rim of the dish so as to contest them again.
“Would you just eat them already?”
the exasperated voice of her friend, Nira, said from the opposite side
of the table.
Lelana glanced up then, not looking
at her friend but darting her eyes again to the table across the room
and to the figure of her would-be lover. He still had his back to her
and had yet to notice her presence in the room. “I’m not hungry,”
she sighed as she looked back down to her plate, frowning. She flicked
her spoon then and the peas were set off in another race. Pea
Two won this time. Too bad, Four, she thought though she didn’t
really mean it; she had been rooting for Three.
“Then clear your dish, take that
scowl off your face, and act as a lady in a room surrounded by suitors.
No man is going to notice you if you act like a peeved child,”
Nira admonished and Lelana blinked.
“How do you know that--?” she began.
“—That you pine for a moment’s
attention of him, our returned warrior, sitting on the other end of
the hall? Perhaps it’s because you’ve done naught but stare holes
into his back since you sat down. Or that you’ve bored me for days
now with a running stream of what-ifs, all pertaining to his returned
infatuation of you. Or mayhap it’s that you keep writing his name
in your creamed potatoes. It has not been hard to discern,” Nira scowled,
but there was a sparkle of amusement in her eyes and Lelana knew the
words weren’t meant to be harsh.
The corners of Lelana’s mouth lifted
as she countered, saying, “Remind me again why I deem you a friend?”
Nira stood and leaned across the table,
planting a chaste kiss upon her brow saying, “I am your friend because
I am honest with you. He loves another. You know this.”
“I know this,” Lelana repeated.
But then she shook her head in denial, sending her bountiful hair tossing
to either side of her before landing in a gentle cascade across her
shoulder. “I know this but I won’t accept it. He liked me once.”
“Liked being the operative
word here,” Nira countered, her own dark hair shading her face as
she looked down on her. She came around the table then, sitting on the
bench next to her friend. “Liked and loved can be distant cousins
when it comes to the wants of the heart. I would venture that when it
comes to ‘like,’ nothing has changed for him. However, ‘love’…
You cannot force him to love you.”
“I could!” Lelana turned and
clasped her friend’s hands in her own, leaning forward so to share
her thoughts. “If only I could get him alone I am certain I could
make him forget all about her. Yet he is always in the companionship
of that other one.” Her lips curled in disdain as her eyes
locked on the odd character who sat opposite her love. “I suspect
it is he who keeps us apart, whispering reminders to him
of the supposed love he left behind. His very presence surely reminds
him of her. I hear they were fellow travelers when they met her. Had
they not been he would have remained here with me. I wish he had never
agreed to set off on that silly Quest!”
“You do not believe that and you
well know it, Lelana!” Nira scolded, nostrils flaring, and this time
there was no humor in her eyes or her voice. “This war would have
been nigh impossible to win had he not gone off on the Quest as he did.
You’ve heard the tales! You know the role he played in saving this
kingdom and many others beside! I shudder to think where we would be
now if he had done otherwise, and the price of your heartbreak over
a small infatuation – one you had no inkling of knowing or owning
up to before he left us – is well worth it. Let him have his love,
far away though she be. There are still menfolk enough to give you choice.
Set your pretty sights elsewhere! His heart is not yours to claim.”
Lelana dipped her head, suddenly regretful
of her words and wishing none of her friend’s scorn. She felt a tear
drop from her eye. She nodded as she conceded the truth, but she couldn’t
help herself from stealing one more furtive glance across the hall.
There he sat, his figure, even from the back, the perfect tale of masculine
physical grace. Strong, broad shoulders. Lean tapering waist. She imagined
running her fingers over his hard, muscular frame. Wanting. And she
She saw then that his companion noticed
her and she crinkled her nose in distaste. He was unattractive to her
in every way, for his stature, his coloring, the very smell of his hair
and clothes were repugnant to her. Yet she knew she should not cast
him away for he was close to her heart’s desire. Still she was certain
he had seen her look of repulsion and more so she was certain she had
just sealed her own fate.
The repugnant companion leaned over
the table to whisper to her love, and he, her hero, sat a little taller
then and glanced over his shoulder. Despite her admission that he was
not hers, she couldn’t help but gasp as he looked her way. His eyes,
his smile, his beautiful profile as his head came around… oh, but
she could imagine lavishing kisses upon his lips, devouring the very
scent of him as she laced her fingers in his long, flowing hair. Kissing,
plying, teasing. If only…
But then he turned away, making comment
once more to his friend, and she could only to stare at his back, his
face not coming around again, not noticing her, not wanting as she wanted.
And there she was left, saddened and broken, having only the hollow
knowledge that he could never love her. She wiped a tear away.
“She is looking at you again.”
“No, do not glance her way! It will
only encourage her and she will never stop mooning for you.”
“Sorry! So sorry! What do I do now?”
“Well, ceasing to look her way would
be a good thing to start!”
At the table on the far end of the
hall sat the two friends, elf and dwarf, an odd pair indeed. One was
tall and lean, with a flowing mane of golden hair, braided in warrior
fashion, a face that was bare of beard, and a smile that was wide and
bright. His green eyes sparkled as if he held a secret behind them,
but when one looked deeply there, his age became known and his outward
appearance of youth fell away. The other, much younger by many a year,
was broad and strong, no shorter or taller than any other of dwarf kind,
but decidedly of miniature stature when compared to his elven companion.
His rust-colored hair was thick and richly fashioned into a rope that
cascaded down his back, and where his companion was free of facial hair,
he made up the difference with his bounty of beard and moustache. These
were perfectly coifed, manicured and smoothed into braids so his hearty
grin and dark eyes could be seen.
Tall and short. Light and dark. Lean
and broad. An odd pair indeed, made all the odder by the unusual way
they went about their friendship, bickering and teasing. Yet they
were close companions, sharers of travel and adventure, to which they
had tales that they would share over a pint with any who would sit near
them. Neither would gainsay the other in truth, and neither would let
the other down in time of need. And though this present moment was not
one of need per se, that did not negate one’s offer of advice to the
“I feel bad for her.”
“You should. She is a pretty thing.
No doubt she feels slighted by your dismissal. I think she even cries.”
A wince of regret came with a quick
sip of the ale. “I would only break her heart. Besides, hers is but
an infatuation. Hero worship.”
“Think much of yourself, do you?”
“Tsk. I knew her as a child and I
will never imagine her as more than that.”
“She has blossomed into more than
that by my sights.”
“A child, I say.”
The two took a swig from their cups,
then leaned in closer, hugging their mugs to their chests. The elf’s
eyes took on a solemn cast as he gazed around the room, careful to keep
from alighting on the maiden again. He could not help but see her out
of the corner of his eye though as she rose from the table. She was
escorted by her friend, who hugged her near, patting her back in consoling
fashion. Like one would sooth a child, he thought. The dwarf noticed
his gaze and darted a quick glance as well, though both were furtive
in this and so were not noticed.
“Is it so bad to be yearned for?”
“You have no idea how blessed you
are, my friend.”
are not perpetually pursued by the female half.”
“Hero worship, as you say. That is
all. You are not so dazzling as that!”
“You mock me. You know you are jealous
of the attention I draw.”
“Were you lamenting your situation,
or bragging of it?”
“The female half of all species,
mind you, not just my own kind. It is a curse, I tell you.”
“Bragging then. But I would take
a bit of that curse off your hands if you want to toss some of it my
way. You know that is why I keep company with you, don’t you?”
“For the castoffs? You are shameless!”
“I am lonely. And I am not so valiant
as you to deny a pretty female like that one a little time in
a back hallway.”
“I do not think she would be satisfied
with a mere peck on the cheek.”
“I was not thinking of mere pecks
on the cheek.”
“The beauty of my lady is enough
to keep me true.”
“Posh! Your lady is a married woman!”
“And that is the reason I show valor
“So you can brag of all your many
“No. To prove the greatness of my
They both leaned back then, smirking
at one another, brows lifted in bantering challenge. This is what they
liked best about their friendship, the open contesting of words and
“It is a chaste love you share and
I think you a fool. Had I your gift, I would bed every female that batted
an eye my way.”
“There we go! The truth at last.”
“Is that so wrong? You say you are
cursed, but I tell you it is no blessing to be seen as merely ordinary,
especially when compared to you.”
“Surely to your own kind…”
“Nae, even to them I am bland. Your
beauty is blinding.”
“Nonsense, you are … not so bad
… to look at.”
“See! Even you cannot say it without
stumbling into a lie.”
“What do I know? I’m a male. I
do not spend my time measuring up others of my sex.”
“Yet there are others of your sex
that measure you up.”
“You are not saying --!” Shocked
and dismayed, the thought of a male-male dalliance was appalling.
“I’ve seen it. Especially in Rohan.
Those men of the Riddermark could not take their eyes off of you! There
were a few in the ale houses of Minas Tirith as well.”
“Doubly cursed am I!”
“And perhaps I am
blessed. For I have no worries of pursuits of that kind.”
“Aulë be praised.”
be praised, you mean,” the elf said, leaning in to correct the dwarf’s
“Aulë is the god I pray to and I’ll
thank you to keep the other gods out of it.”
“He is but one of the Valar, Dwarf.
How many times must we argue this fact? You may as well thank your left
thumb for the work done by the whole of your hand, so similar is the
“Leave it to an elf to bless all
of the world for the gifts granted him by one most near him. Aulë was
my Maker; I need not devote my prayers to those other gods who had not
His foresight and wisdom.”
The elf rolled his eyes, seeming to
decide it was pointless to debate religion. Besides, it was taking them
off the subject at hand.
“In any case, Gimli, women swoon
for you while you leave a trail of broken hearts in your wake. That
poor dwarf maiden –“
“—is just one of many who will
be crying herself to sleep. I doubt Galadriel meant for you to be so
true in your devotion that you would not seek out a mate.”
“No woman could ever match my lady’s
charms. I am better left a bachelor pining for her love,” the dwarf
concluded, glancing down into his cup.
“And I fear I will forever be a bachelor
as well, though it will not be for lack of want,” the elf conceded,
seeing his mug needed filling as well.
“Ai, Legolas, have no worries,”
Gimli consoled, reaching out to pat his friend’s hand. “I am certain
somewhere in this great universe there is a woman or two who might indeed
find you fair.”
The elf pushed his mug forward as if
to suggest he might do with another. “May it be so,” he sighed.
Frowning at the sudden maudlin turn,
Gimli nodded to the elf’s mug. “I’m cutting you off. It is clear
you are in your cups.” He looked up to the ceiling as if an answer
to his woes might be found there. “Elves simply cannot hold their
liquor. Now you will get all sappy and sing songs of love and undying
“Let us change that. A contest then!”
“Have you learned nothing? Did I
not put you under the table in Meduseld?” the dwarf said as he rose
from his bench, reaching out a steadying hand to his friend.
“Only because the ale was foreign
to me,” the elf protested, gathering his legs up beneath him.
“Nay, it is those long legs of yours.
Like splinters. You have no meat on your bones to fortify you. You are
all gangly, with that narrow waist and those flat hips,” Gimli said,
nodding to the offending extremities.
“I thought you were going to say
it is because I have no beard to show my masculine strength,” Legolas
said, rubbing his chin with the back of the hand as he wobbled a bit
on his legs.
“I venture you would be more appealing
to the ladies had you one.”
“I have tried. No fuzz will sprout
“Perhaps dimming your gaze a bit
then. I think women find those green eyes a bit daunting. The color
is so unusual.”
“You should tell me to bathe in earth
as you do for all the good it will do me.”
“A little dirt behind the ears hurt
no one,” the dwarf retorted smugly.
The elf shrugged, thinking it useless
to try. The scent of Spring air and beech forest would be forever with
him. And his eyes would always be merry and green no matter how he tried
to mask them. His build perhaps he could work on. Less time on the archery
course and more time in the larders he supposed would plump him up.
But then he arched a brow as he studied his friend’s face, tilting
his head. “Yet for now… You know, you are a rather handsome male,
Gimli. Perhaps we could… you know…? Dark halls ahead, you see…
a peck on the cheek… mayhap more…?”
“Don’t make me slash you, Elf!”
the dwarf growled, pulling his hand away and placing it on the haft
of his axe.
“Just a thought,” the elf quipped
with a light laugh. “It would be a tale to tell.”
“A tale none would want to know of,
I’m sure,” the dwarf returned as they left the great hall, unaware
of all the eyes that followed them, imagining lusts unbecoming.
There were even a few who fancied themselves
in the arms of the elf, unattractive though he was.