Dwarves and Elves
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The Most Graceful Wallflower: 1. Join the Dance
It never ceases to amaze me; not only that we are friends, but that he, an Elf, could so continuously compel me to drop my jaw in amazement, as I did now.
“You--you--you do not like dancing?”
“Not so loud!” he hissed, grabbing my arm and pulling me roughly down next to him. I saw no reason for quiet; the hall was crowded and noisy with music and laughter, and I doubted someone could have eavesdropped if they tried, but nevertheless, I lowered my voice.
“Sorry--my ears must have betrayed me--I thought I just heard Legolas Thranduilion, Prince of Mirkwood--”
“--yes, Greenwood, irritating singer of all the praises of Elves, and supposedly fearless warrior, say that he feared to dance.”
“I do not fear dancing,” Legolas said coldly. “I simply refuse to dance.”
“In my mind, an Elf such as yourself only refuses a challenge if he fears it.”
His eyes flashed imperceptibly; but I caught it. “You are forgetting, “ he said with dignity, “that an Elf such as myself need not unnecessarily force himself to join in a pastime he does not enjoy--as I do not enjoy this conversation, Dwarf.”
“Unnecessarily, you say,” I smiled at him. “Yet you not only risk hurting the feelings of your most beloved friends if you refuse--” he snorted at the mention of ‘beloved friends’ “--but also offending our esteemed hostess.”
Warily he glanced at the Lady Eowyn, laughing at some jest, then shook his head so that his hair flew in a flickering mass of gold in the torchlight.
“She has eyes for none but Faramir this night. And that is as it should be. It is her wedding night, after all.”
I raised my eyebrows. “This is Lady Eowyn we speak of, my friend. Do you really think she is not aware of every movement within her new realm--or, more importantly, of the lack of movement in this corner?”
He leaned back in his chair and took another sip of his wine. I changed tack.
“Besides, surely you cannot hate dancing as much as you pretend. It is well known that all Elves love dancing and singing in the moonlight almost as much as they like overlong poetry and wine.”
“Not this Elf,” Legolas stated flatly.
‘And it is just as well known that Elves are --more refined, more elegant, and far wiser and lovelier than the rest of us, as I believe you have been telling me since we met--and thus, surely the best dancers.”
He rolled his eyes, but I saw him flinch at the words “best dancers.”
“You cannot tell me that you fear you are a poor dancer!” I exclaimed in disbelief. He looked away.
“Legolas. You are easily the most graceful and coordinated member of the Fellowship--not to mention having more natural elegance than the rest of us put together-- though your wits must be lacking if you believe ...” I trailed off, shaking my head. It was the nearest I had ever come to complimenting him.
In a low, miserable tone I had rarely heard from him, he said “You have never seen me dance.”
I snorted. “I have seen you fight, and that's nearer to dancing than whatever it is Aragorn thinks he’s doing over there.” I failed to draw a smile from him.
“Whoever put this nonsense into your mind, Elf?” I said firmly, making it more of a statement than a question.
“....” he muttered, and I sighed.
“Pardon? I didn't quite catch that.”
“My brothers!” he snapped, sending me a dark glare. Most would have quailed under the fierceness of an Elvish glare, or at the least hastily changed the subject. But none has ever matched a Dwarf for persistence. Or maybe just stubbornness.
“You believed them?” I asked incredulously. It was like pouring oil on a fire. His face flushed darkly, stormclouds rising in his eyes. He started to speak, but I cut him off.
“Legolas,” I said, softening my tone. “I am a Dwarf.”
“Truly? I was not aware of it,” he murmured softly, but I ignored him.
“I am a Dwarf, and perhaps I have not always been the best of friends, yet have I ever lied to you? Listen to what I say. I am a Dwarf, and far more clumsy than you, an Elf, yet I have gone out there and made a fool of myself in honor of our friends. What is more, I am prepared to do it again, and in the company of an Elf who I am sure will make me seem even more foolish by comparison. If I can do that--” I noticed with an silent crow that he was frowning, “--then you can bear a single dance for Faramir and Eowyn.
‘Besides,” I added lightly, “There is a tradition in Rohan that if all the guests do not drink the health of the bride and groom and dance before them, then the marriage will not last.” There was no such tradition that I knew of, but a little extra prompting could not hurt. Still he hesitated, and I saw the inner conflict within him-- if he agreed now it would seem he was surrendering to me, which his pride would not let him do; yet if he refused he would seem a petulant child, and he knew I would never let him forget it.
I took pity on him and gave him an honorable way out. “If you still will not,” I said in my most scornful tones, “then you are a coward and have proved yourself lesser than a Dwarf.”
“Never!” he hissed, and stood, taking one last, deep draught from his glass before he let me lead him out onto the dance floor.
We were enthusiastically greeted by the other dancers, none of whom seemed to notice the whiteness of Legolas’ face, or the tightness of his jaw.
He was not as bad as he claimed, but truly he disappointed me. He moved stiffly, every movement made awkward by his obvious self-consciousness and all attempts to save his dignity by drawing back into his customary icy composure made him seem only more ridiculous.
He ignored the hobbits’ eager attempts to get him to relax, but stared above their heads with an expression of long suffering.
It was well for us all that the Queen Arwen chose that moment to make an appearance and rescued Legolas; restoring harmony as easily and gracefully as she danced. I watched as she leaned in to whisper something to Legolas, and he gave a small smile, and gradually his movements grew less stilted, and he began to move with the unconscious elegance that ruled the rest of his life, and I laughed aloud.
Pippin saw my laughter and, mistaking the cause of it, he and Merry leapt on me with indignant shouts and caught me up in the ridiculousness of their dance. I doubt that there ever was or will be such a sight in that Golden Hall--two hobbits and a Dwarf beating a pattern into the mosaic tile, laughing and singing nonsensical words.
When we finished, I looked around for Legolas, and I smiled with deep satisfaction to see his usually flawless hair in wild disarray, his cheeks flushed from more than the wine, and his sparkling laughter falling easily from his lips.
I caught his eye, and for a moment it seemed that he might frown once more; but it trembled upon his brow, and became a true smile. I smirked at him, and he laughed, and caught my arm to draw me into the dance.
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