1. Chance Meetings
His dark musings were interrupted by a flash of a figure in the tall willows about the Mouths of Sirion. His heartbeat quickened. They were not alone. An ambush? Yet the figure had moved with grace, not in the clumsy manner of an Orc. The sons of Feanor? Legolas frowned. Or perhaps some stray survivors of Nargothrond. Legolas wavered between reporting his findings and investigating further, but at last he decided to investigate ere the figure left the willows.
He moved quickly to where he’d seen the figure and barely rustled the willows. Lord Penlod had once said that he was as stealthy as a fox and had suggested that perhaps he should follow Maedhros instead of Galdor of the Tree. Legolas fought back the tears that threatened to well up in his eyes. Even Penlod the Tall had fallen. What hope remained in the world? That brief moment of distraction was enough. Just as he came close enough to at last see the figure clearly, a second figure sprang up beside him and held a sword to his breast.
"Don’t move," the second figure warned.
Legolas couldn’t even if he’d wanted to. "Gimli of the Keen-hearing," he breathed in disbelief.
The old Elf was unmistakable, and yet he was entirely changed. His face was rugged and grey, and his eyes were closed, surrounded by obvious burn marks. Yet his face became radiant as he recognized the sound of that voice.
"Legolas." Even his voice was aged. Gimli stumbled forward and embraced Legolas.
Tears unshed now fell freely at the touch of a familiar friend, and Legolas struggled to speak as he sobbed: "The Hidden Kingdom of Turgon has fallen. Ulmo has turned his back on us, for we would not heed his advice. Maeglin--the King’s own nephew!--betrayed us. Morgoth’s forces came, and there were Balrogs. Duilin of the Swallow fell. Then Lord Rog. Lord Penlod of the Pillar and of the Tower of Snow. And Ecthelion of the Fountain also, who fell in deathly struggle against Gothmog, Captain of the Balrogs. Prince Aranwe would not leave King Turgon’s side, and all the people of the House of the King perished with Gondolin. And when a scarce eight hundred of us stumbled forth from the city in the dark, we were ambushed, and then fell Glorfindel of the Golden Flower. If even the Sun has fallen, what is left to us? What?"
Legolas clung to the old blind Elf. He’d seen too much, far too much. Why hadn’t the secret ships of Turgon succeeded in their errand to beg aid from the Valar in the West? Perhaps the Valar had truly and utterly abandoned them. If that were so, truly there was no hope for the cursed Noldor. Gimli hushed Legolas and held him tightly, though his old limbs had lost most of their strength. Ah, but it was the strength of the heart that here mattered, not the strength of arms. Slowly, Legolas regained his senses, and his witless tears were wiped away by one who could not even see.
"Poor Legolas," Gimli said gently, and though his voice was like the rasping of a man dying from thirst, Legolas found comfort in hearing it. "It could not have been easy to survive such a horrible ravaging of so fair a city. This is not the first time you’ve seen such grievous wounds dealt to the Noldor, yet it must feel like the last. Doriath was sacked, and Nargothrond, the Hidden Kingdom established by fair Finrod, has fallen. Indeed, I was in those same dungeons of Minas Tirith, the tower that Finrod himself had erected. Cruel irony taunts us. I too often wonder how any hope can be found. Yet here in the willows, I have found you. Surely it is a sign that we must not despair."
"You must think me silly for crying like a child even after all these years." Legolas sniffled and leaned his head to Gimli’s shoulder. Though the elder Elf was bent with weariness, he seemed like a tower of support in these unhappy days.
"Whatever keeps your sight keen," Gimli teased. Legolas poked him in the ribs for that, and apparently Gimli was still ticklish there. Gimli’s guardian cleared his throat. Gimli nodded to him. "Legolas of the Tree, this is Mablung of the Heavy-hand. You have heard of him, I’m sure."
Legolas detached himself from Gimli and properly greeted Mablung with a bow. "Your name is known even among the Elf-lords of Gondolin, for you and Beleg Strongbow came forth alone of the people of Doriath and aided the late King Fingon in the Fifth Battle."
Mablung nodded. "And I surmise that you are none other than Legolas of the Keen-sight. Gimli has spoken much of you in his tales. We have great need of such wardens as yourself, and you are most welcomed in the Havens of Sirion."
"Thank you. As I said before, there are nigh eight hundred who escaped from the Fall of Gondolin," Legolas said. "It is premature of me to ask, but will the Mouths of Sirion be able to succor so many?" And yet, so few, Legolas could not help but to think inwardly with a sigh. Thousands had dwelt in Gondolin ere its end.
"It is a matter to be decided by Lord Celeborn, but the followers of Turgon are not Kinslayers, and I think the prince will look kindly upon others who are unfortunate in fate yet fortunate enough to have survived," said Mablung.
Legolas bowed again to the marchwarden of the Havens of Sirion. "The Valar decide our Fates; the Kings decide our paths; but in these days of darkness, there is indeed yet hope for us in such fortuitous chance meetings. Even if we are turned away, I rejoice at having met again Gimli, my friend of old, and his new companion."
"I begin to see why he was held in such high favor," Mablung noted to Gimli.
"I will return to the remnants of Gondolin and ask Tuor to send forth a messenger to the Havens of Sirion," said Legolas. "I must confess though, I have no idea where we will go if we are refused sanctuary. Years ago, Tuor came bearing Ulmo’s errand and bade us come hither, yet now that we are forced to such measures, we find the Mouths of Sirion inhabited."
"Don’t worry, Legolas. You can always stay at my place," Gimli jested. Legolas stuck his tongue out at the elder Elf then realized with a touch of sorrow that the Blind Elf could no longer see even this.
Legolas then said aloud, "And leave behind my beloved Lord Galdor? How could I dream of such a thing, unless, of course, you were willing to enter a thrice-blessed union."
Gimli chucked. "Don’t be absurd, young Legolas. I am aged, and I know that Galdor will not take well to me now. But perhaps if Celeborn the Silver Tree would succor Galdor of the Tree, then you would be free to stay with me in the Havens."
At that, even Mablung laughed. "It is a marvel, indeed, to be able to find laughter in these hard times. At last, I see the legendary humor of Legolas of the Keen-sight."
Legolas smiled softly at this. "The legend is not mine but that of Glorfindel of the Golden Flower, and long did the Noldor suffer under his tutelage and teasings. But those of us who learned his lessons may well find a way to cope with these dire days."
Though he felt a pang of emptiness at the reminder of the loss of the great Elf-lord of Gondolin, he felt also a new rapport building with Mablung of the Heavy Hand, and that feeling of new friendship was a wonderful one. Perhaps it was as Ecthelion of the Fountain had long ago taught: Chance meetings are destiny in disguise.
Notes: Legolas of the Tree is not related to Legolas of Mirkwood. He comes from Gondolin and can be found in Book of Lost Tales II. Neither is Gimli the Blind Elf related to Gimli the Dwarf. He was saved along with Beren in Book of Lost Tales II. Celeborn means "silver tree." Glorfindel’s legendary humor is not canon, but it’s certainly prevalent in my Gondolin stories.
HASA Notes: This was written and submitted for the Anything but ordinary challenge. Legolas is often seen in the company of the Elf-lords of Gondolin but is himself without a shred of noble blood. He's highly favored by them because of his keen sight. Gimli is also without noble blood. He previously served Maglor and was favored by the sons of Feanor for his keen hearing. They're recurring characters. To my knowledge, Mablung, though chief of the Marchwardens of Doriath, had no noble blood, but if he does, well, he only spoke 5 times.
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