1. Lessons in Embroidery
Characters: Legolas Greenleaf, Peregrin Took
Setting: A night not long after the Fellowship arrives in Lothlórien.
Summary: A short scene in Lothlórien where Pippin learns about hope.
Legolas Greenleaf was stitching.
He wasn’t sewing to mend a ripped garment, nor was he stitching to create. No, he was merely stitching for decoration, an activity that one would call embroidery.
It was one of the times that he returned to the pavilion near the fountain where the Company was staying in Lothlórien. He had returned from going about the land with Gimli in time for the evening meal, for, as Gimli said, if they did not return before it started, their meal would have disappeared into the body of one Peregrin Took. It was a statement that, though slightly unkind, was still perfectly true.
Now his Companions were seated together beside the fountain, speaking of past adventures and telling stories from their different cultures. Legolas had ventured away from them, as was his wont in this land, for he liked to spend his time with the Galadhrim. But this time, he did not walk very far.
For on the far side of the pavilion lay a piece of cloth, together with a needle and several spools of thread. And moved by something that he could not identify, he went over, picked up the cloth and the threaded needle, and began to stitch.
He didn’t really know why he was stitching. Perhaps it was the comfort of its memories – after all, stitching had been one of the last things his Naneth had taught him before she had died. Or perhaps it was the familiarity of it – the constant going in and coming out of the needle through the cloth was a stable stronghold even in this time of grief and the loss of their leader.
There was one thing he knew for certain, however. If any of his Companions came upon him like this, they would be extremely…surprised.
Even now, he heard the soft patter of hobbit-feet coming towards him. It approached, and then suddenly stopped, as was usual for most people when they saw him. The first thought that would inevitably come into their mind was: ‘oh, the Elf is here already. Better get out.’
But curiosity finally overcame this particular Hobbit – as it did with all the Hobbits that he knew, though he only knew four. And the patter of hobbit-feet started again, as did the familiar voice that came to him with the fated question.
“What are you doing?”
And with it came the unavoidable reply.
“I’m stitching, Master Pippin.”
The youngest of the Hobbits cast him an easily read glance, a glance that said ‘WHAT?’ Still, he came over and sat next to the Elf, fascinated by the movement of the needle, in and out, in and out.
Ah, the second fated question of the night. It was one that he had no ability to answer. Yet, he would try his best to satisfy this bright young mind beside him.
“I do not know.”
Pippin glanced at him again, and then drew his attention back to the cloth and the rapidly moving needle. In and out, in and out, in and out. It was a never-ending cycle that captured his concentration, although he did not know why.
And then Legolas began to speak again, his musical voice flowing over the Hobbit, as though it were a part of the picture that was forming before his eyes.
“Do you see the way the needle always flows? It continues, regardless of what pattern it is forming. It is always the same motion, swimming, making its way in and out of the cloth. And that is just like life. For no matter what occurs, no matter what strange event happens, we must always move on. We will never be able to stop the world from moving; we will never be able to stop nature from taking its course. But we must move with it, flow with it, be one with it. Only then can we be successful, painting out the picture of our life and bringing some good into this world.”
He paused now, and threaded a different coloured string onto the needle. Then he continued.
“Then there are others around us. They might be similar to us, or they might act in a way that is completely against our beliefs and customs. They come into your life, for good or for ill. It would always be hard to tell at the first moment whether this new character in your life story would help you or not. Yet they are there, weaving their way around you, beside you, through you. And ultimately, whether you wish to believe it or not, they will help you to grow. Everyone who comes into your life will play a part, whether small or big, and will help to form your life. Just as each string here plays a part in forming the complete decoration, so does everyone you encounter help to form who you are, and the person you will be.”
He stopped again, and this time Pippin saw him frown at the cloth, contemplating it. And though the Hobbit, being so intent in listening to Legolas’ words and watching the cloth, had stayed silent for the past minutes, he gave in to the urge to speak now.
Legolas sighed, and then began to unpick the last stitch he had made on the cloth.
“A mistake. I put in that stitch a little too far to the right, and must now remove it so that the decoration will be correct.”
He removed the stitch completely, and then continued. And as he continued to stitch, so he also continued to speak.
“You see, Pippin? Just as in stitching we can make mistakes, so in life we can do the same. Although it must be admitted that life’s mistakes are much harder to resolve and unravel, yet the same can occur during stitching. If one does not pay attention to what one is sewing on the cloth, then a slight mistake can cause disaster for the entire work. Yet, there are always means to resolve the matter. A master sewer can work around the mistake he has made, and incorporate that wrong stitch so that in the end, the picture remains beautiful and seemingly unmarred by any wrong. So it is with life. We can, and will, always make mistakes. None of us are perfect, not the Firstborn, nor any of the Free Folk. Even the greatest among us will make mistakes, though they might be minute and perhaps inconceivable. Yet after it has been committed, there is no turning back. We must then work with what we have, so as to rebuild the fragile hope that seems shattered and misplaced, and in the end, have that hope and faith shining forth like a beacon in the dark. It might be hard, but it is always possible. For as long as we live, hope always has a chance of living.”
Legolas now turned the cloth around and tied a knot, then placed it gently into the hands of the silent Hobbit beside him.
“I must go; my kin await me,” and saying this, he disappeared into the peaceful night.
And Pippin, looking down at the cloth in his hands, saw a picture. A picture made of the brightest colours, a picture that seemed to speak of hope – lost and regained.
It was a beautiful mirror image of the doors of Moria. Where mistakes had been made, where blood had been shed, where hope had been lost .
And in the corner was one simple word.
 Cf. The Lord of the Rings, Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring. Book II, Chapter 6: Lothlórien. Where it is recorded: “He [Aragorn] turned to the Company. ‘We must do without hope,’ he said.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.