Dwarves and Elves
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When You Are With Me: 15. With Faith
the mountains to weave their way back down the road, down the slope of the
hills to the wide plains which opened before them. Merry rode with Gandalf
and Pippin with Aragorn, and they went at their ease, letting the horses
keep their own pace. The sun was low in the western sky and the evening
came upon them, as did fatigue, though it was a welcome sort of weariness
which beckoned to them and they savoured it, looking forward to a safe camp
and well-deserved rest.
Gimli sat behind Legolas, stifling yawns which became harder to stifle as
the minutes passed, and making idle conversation to stave off sleep.
"You would go back on your word?" the elf asked.
"Of course not! A dwarf's word is as good as set in stone once he has
uttered it. I said not so. I merely said that our journey should make
more sense if we passed east along the White Mountains, through Edoras,
visiting the Glittering Caves ere heading north to Fangorn once more."
"Count yourself lucky to be going to Fangorn with me at all, after the
impression you made upon the Ents. If I bring you with me, you shall have
to be bound and gagged. You were fortunate that Treebeard did not turn
that axe of yours into fine kindling, my dear Dwarf, and you along with
"....Mmm... yes. That sounds about right," Gimli murmured deeply,
"That would be a fitting fate for a dwarf who ignores his common sense and
insists upon keeping company with an elf... crushed to death by a giant,
walking, talking tree. It would serve me right."
Gimli traded friendly insults with Legolas until they ran out of words, and
those who rode near them began to run out of patience. With a chuckle,
Gimli fell silent, lost in thought and listening to the wind rustling in
the grass, the dull thud of Arod's hooves upon soft ground, the snatches of
hushed conversation continuing around them, the low buzz of insects in the
night air. Before long he was resting against the elf's back with heavy
eyes. Legolas smiled and held the strong arms that encircled his waist to
keep the exhausted dwarf from falling.
The elf sang gently, his voice becoming one with the light breeze, and he
was content. Arod was thrusting his way through the tall grasses with
pleasure, delighting in the feeling of the tickling foxtails about his
fetlocks, the stiffer grass scratching across his belly. The horse picked
his way easily over the gentle slope of the land and Legolas let him go as
he would, allowing him to enjoy himself. Inevitably, Arod wandered his way
closer to Shadowfax, and Legolas heard Gandalf and Merry speaking of
Saruman, of tomorrow's plans, of the journey this night.
"... Peace, Meriadoc! A most unquenchable hobbit. All wizards should have
a hobbit or two in their care -- to teach them the meaning of the word, and
to correct them. If it eases your mind, I have given thought even to these
simple matters. We will ride for a few hours until we come to the end of
the valley and then halt for the evening."
Gandalf cast a look of long-suffering at Legolas. "You and Arod are at
least blessed with a quiet companion," he said. "I should gladly trade you
a curious hobbit, if you find yourself wanting for company."
Legolas laughed lightly. "Nay! Merry, I fear that you would find few
answers from me to satisfy your curiosity. A wizard is the one to whom you
must turn if you wish for intelligence, for all the complaining he may do,
and not to a dull elf."
Merry rolled his eyes. "I give up. I should know better than to expect
decent conversation from either one of you." He tossed a hand into the air
dismissively, ignoring the amused smile exchanged between elf and wizard at
his expense, and settled back to curl up in his cloak and get some rest
Gandalf chuckled. After a moment he murmured to the elf, "I forget
sometimes what it means to be young, to be so full of wonder about the
world. I had feared their days with the orcs would have quelled the spirit
in them, but I should know better by now than to underestimate them."
"If more could be as forgiving and gallant as the hobbits, or be granted
hearts as large as those which belong to this smallest of races, we should
find Middle-earth a haven indeed. I wish it were so," Legolas said
Gandalf heard the sadness in the elf's voice and studied him. "It was a
terrible thing to see," he said gently, "to witness one so mighty now
fallen. I grieve that so much that was good has been lost, but you did
well, Legolas. Do not punish yourself for his decision. His corruption
was too strong by the end, and there was nothing to be done for him. Put
it from your mind, if you are able. It will not do to dwell upon it."
Legolas smiled and nodded. "Well do I know it, Mithrandir. And I thank
you for your concern. But he was given a last choice and a fair one, and I
He fell silent for a moment, feeling the wind stir against his face, then
he looked upon Gandalf with thoughtful eyes.
"It seems to me that fate is coldest in this turn of things. For all
Saruman wrought, for the deeds he has done and the sorrow he has awakened,
much good has sprung from the evil of his designs. We ride with a king and
his men who have had courage stirred within who might not have found it to
be so otherwise, a battle was won as a distant result of the abduction of
our young companions, and...." The elf's fair voice faltered with sudden
emotion as he twined his fingers with Gimli's, "... it is not easy that
some must suffer so that others might find hope."
Merry remained very still, not quite yet asleep. He had heard Legolas's
words and his throat tightened a little, remembering Boromir.
He blinked back tears and listened to Gandalf's comforting voice near him.
"Ever has it been so, child. When darkness threatens that which we love
most, some must give it up, some fall along the way so that others may keep
it. No, it is not an easy thing to bear, but we must keep faith that there
is meaning in all of it, though we may not see it. I wish with all my
heart that we may see this all through to the end with as few sacrifices as
The wizard drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, and seemed to look
Merry stirred and sighed, and Gandalf roused himself from contemplation to
tuck the hobbit's cloak tighter about his shoulders, and the wizard laughed
quietly once more. "We look too far ahead, Legolas. There is another
lesson in life we would do well to heed, and that is to find happiness
where and when we may, and not to miss the details in trying to see the
larger picture. Darker days there shall be for us, and perhaps on the
morrow, but this one night of respite we have earned. I shall sleep
soundly, I believe."
"May gentle dreams ease all tonight," Legolas said softly.
Merry clutched the leaf-brooch at his throat, safe with Gandalf upon
Shadowfax. His eyes closed, and once more he wandered peacefully along
white paths beneath the golden boughs of mallorn trees.
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