Dwarves and Elves
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Lessons in Gardening: 2. Chapter Two
It was another fair evening in Ithilien, as Gimli, Legolas, Prince Faramir, Lady Éowyn, and numerous other guests sat down to dinner in Faramir's home. The work of the dwarves was almost complete, as was the work of Legolas and the elves, and soon all would be returning to their respective homes. The meal passed with many a merry conversation, and soon Éowyn fell to praising the lovely gardens.
Legolas inclined his head with a smile, acknowledging her compliments. "Thank you, my Lady, but I could never have done it without the generous gifts of the elves, and of course Gimli's tireless help." He grinned a bit wickedly at the dwarf.
Éowyn smiled upon Gimli. "A strange thing to see a dwarf so much in a garden! `Tis not a normal pastime for your people, I think."
"Nay, it is not," said Gimli. "However, Legolas has been teaching me the ways of plants, and I must admit I have found it most…interesting." He allowed his eyes to glitter briefly at the elf.
"And what did you learn?" inquired Faramir conversationally.
"Oh, I was mainly learning to identify and name the plants. Before they looked all the same to me, but now I can tell the difference between violets, mayapples, hostas, bleeding hearts…" His voice trailed off.
With each plant name, vividly remembered images and sensations came unbidden to his mind. Violets – pale hair spilling over pale shoulders. Mayapples – the feel of a soft throat against his lips. Hostas – a glimpse of slender, muscled thigh. Bleeding heart- a smooth neck arching back and lips parted in a soundless gasp. His mouth went dry as he realized the utter inappropriateness of the current time and
place for such memories, and he thanked the Valar for his concealing beard as he felt his face heat. Gimli risked a quick glance towards Legolas and saw that a slow flush was spreading over his cheeks and his
eyes were wide and overbright. And now the other dinner guests were looking at the two of them with curiosity. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.
Suddenly, Legolas rose gracefully to his feet. "My Lord, my lady, if you will excuse me, I have just remembered something of importance that I forgot to finish in your garden. Gimli, I could use your help."
Gimli stared at him speechlessly for a moment, before scrambling awkwardly from his chair and mumbling his apologies.
The elf and the dwarf fled, leaving behind a table full of confused guests.
Legolas sat upon the low wall of a stone terrace, knees pulled up under his chin, and gazed off towards Minas Tirith. The morning was fair and bright with promise, and he sang softly to himself as he watched the flights of birds spiraling up into the impossibly blue sky. A step behind him broke his reverie, and turning, he beheld Gimli approaching with a jaunty step, holding something concealed behind his back.
"Legolas!" The dwarf hailed him with a smile. "I have been looking all over for you!"
"And now you have found me," returned the elf. "So what do you have concealed behind your back? Or dare I even ask?"
After a brief hesitation and a broad grin, Gimli brought forth his hidden hand with a flourish and a bow. "For you – a lovely bouquet of "Aahh Gimlis", to celebrate the successful completion of our tasks!"
Legolas' mouth dropped open in astonishment, then he broke forth into silvery peals of laughter. The dwarf could not help but join in, so merry was the sound. He handed the bouquet of daisies to the elf, and watched as he buried his nose in the flowers, still smiling broadly.
They stayed in companionable silence for a moment. Gimli leaned comfortably against the stone wall, feeling the elf's warm leg press against his shoulder and arm. "And so. Where will we go now that our work here is done?" he asked, watching Legolas' slender fingers caress the soft petals of the flowers in his hands.
"There is still much work to be done, to repair the Kingdom of the ravages of war." Legolas gazed down to the river. "You have been asked to go to Minas Tirith, have you not? To oversee the rebuilding of the great gates that were broken. And Arwen has asked me to assist her with her gardens…"
"To Minas Tirith we will go, together. And wither then?"
Legolas turned his clear grey eyes to the dwarf. "I do not know. It is difficult to foresee what the twists and turns of fate will bring us. I
would like to stay here, in Ithilien, and to bring some of my kindred here to dwell with me. The elves could be happy here, I think."
Gimli smiled. "And to make a garden of your own, some day?"
"Certainly." The elf returned his smile. "But what of you? You will disappear back to your deep dark mountain caverns, and I will have lost my best assistant gardener." His tone was light but his eyes were sad.
The dwarf was silent for a moment. "I have come to love this land, and those in it. Like you, I would like to stay. The Glittering Caves call to me, and I also believe that my kindred would be happy there." He paused. "Mayhap there is a place, not far from the Caves and not far from your beloved forests, where there is good stone aplenty for building, and good soil, for a garden. A place where we could both be
content, for I would not be parted from you."
The elf's hands, which had been deftly plaiting the flowers into a long chain, stilled. "Nor I from you," he replied softly, and his eyes shone with emotion. They gazed at one another for a long while.
"Then it is settled," Gimli spoke briskly, breaking the mood, and pushing himself away from the wall. "We will fulfill our obligations in Minas Tirith, and then together we will travel north toward the Glittering Caves and search out a suitable spot."
"Agreed." Legolas' face was merry again. "Gimli, think of it! We will start new colonies with both our peoples living side by side in harmony. I will find joy in the trees and flowers, and you will be the
Lord of the Glittering Caves. And here, my friend, is your crown!" And with that he joined the ends together of the chain of daisies he had just finished plaiting, forming a flowery circlet which he placed with great ceremony upon the dwarf's head.
Gimli stood astounded, and at the look on his face, the elf doubled over in helpless laughter. Gimli sputtered with indignation, until the thought of what a dwarf looks like wearing a crown of daisies on his head, combined with the sight of Legolas convulsed with mirth upon the wall, sent him into hearty guffaws. The terrace rang with the combined
sounds of their mirth, until Legolas, still breathless with laughter, seized Gimli's hands and pulled him into a passionate kiss.
Haldir of Lothlorien strode through the halls of Prince Faramir's home, searching for Legolas. He was returning to the Golden Wood that morning, and wished to take his leave of his kinsman from Mirkwood. The
Lady Éowyn had mentioned that she had seen Legolas not long ago on the second floor terrace, and as Haldir approached his destination, he could hear the combined sounds of elvish and dwarvish laughter.
He stopped just outside the doorway, listening. Strange that an elf and a dwarf could find companionship together, as these two obviously had,
and stranger still that they could find enough in common to laugh so together. Still, the sound was infectious, and Haldir could not help but smile as the peals of laughter continued to ring out. Yes, they were a strange pair, but oddly suited to one another. He had heard that Legolas had actually ventured into caves of his own free will, with Gimli. And a dwarf voluntarily spending time in a garden! He would not have believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.
Silence had fallen again out on the terrace, and Haldir walked briskly through the door to receive the shock of his long, long life. There, against the stone wall, were Legolas and Gimli, hands clasped and
kissing … and sweet Elbereth, was that a crown of daisies in the dwarf's hair? He stumbled a little in his surprise, and the two lovers jumped and broke their kiss. They pulled apart slightly, but did not
release each other's hands, and regarded Haldir with a surprising amount of tranquility. Haldir, however, was opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water.
"Greetings, Haldir," said Legolas with a smile. "I was hoping to see you ere you departed on your return journey." He plucked the crown of daisies easily from Gimli's hair, and the dwarf shot him a quick glare.
"Legolas…Gimli," Haldir finally managed to croak out. "I have come to take my leave of you, and to wish you well wherever you may fare…" He trailed off, having trouble focusing on social formalities with the sight of Gimli and Legolas' fingers twined together. He glanced quickly at the dwarf, and saw that his dark eyes were glittering with suppressed amusement at his discomfiture.
"Haldir." Gimli inclined his head gravely at the elf. "Safe journey, and please remember me to your Lady."
"I will." Haldir returned the bow, and made to go. "Oh Legolas?" He turned back as he remembered something. "I was just in the gardens, and the fern that I brought from the Golden Wood does not seem to be faring as well as I would like. And it appears strangely crushed, almost as if some great
beast had sat upon it…"
He was interrupted by an odd strangled sound from Gimli, which choked off almost immediately as Legolas' fingers tightened visibly over his. The dwarf's face was a curious study of suppressed guilt and hilarity, but the elf's expression was carefully blank.
"Ummm…yes, Haldir, I have noticed the problem. Rest assured I will keep a close eye on the situation – the fern will recover and thrive, you
have my word."
Haldir's eyes roved between the two. What in all of Middle Earth could be the matter with the pair now? Gimli now looked as if he was about to explode, and while Legolas' face was still calm, his knuckles were white where he gripped the dwarf's hand.
Realizing that something had transpired that he probably would never understand, Haldir sighed inaudibly. Collecting his scattered composure
once more, he again made his farewells to the pair, and turned to leave with as much dignity as he could muster.
He was barely out into the hallway when an explosion of laughter coming from the terrace behind him nearly made him jump out of his skin. The sound followed him as he made his way through the house, making him shake his head in amazement. Strange indeed.
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