3. Chapter Three
He who has seen and suffered much,
And knows the ways of the world,
Who has travelled, can tell what spirit
Governs the men he meets
So bright was the sun on the water that it almost seemed golden. The air was golden too, though shadows waited for them down the river. Soon, they would leave Lothlórien and nothing would seem golden ever again.
The boats seemed so light on the water they hardly left a trail, almost as if they had never been there.
Legolas let a hand break the surface of the water for a moment, feeling the cool water against his skin. The beauty of Lothlórien went beyond its trees, it seemed to bring something to the air and ground and water as well. A feel of light, even when it was dark.
Gimli sat behind him in the boat, the dwarf looking unusually pensive. Legolas had always thought dwarves rash and shallow, but his dwarfish companion did not match that picture. Often deep in thought, Gimli seemed to take in Lothlórien even more than his companions. His face shone with a dark gleam, but it was pleasant to be near.
Strange. The dwarf reminded Legolas of the stars. Stars were more than the light they gave out, more than the flame that burned within. They were guides to others in the dark.
“I am torn between wishing I had never come and wishing I never had to leave,” Gimli said quietly. Legolas glanced at him, noticing to his surprise that the dwarf had a hand in the water also. “Golden this forest is, more golden than the gold of our mines. I would not think gold could be alive.”
Legolas suppressed a smile. As astonishing as it was, he was enjoying the dwarf's company. Certain topics they never talked about, for old resentments waited there. But the silence was not uncomfortable, and many a times they simply shared a smile over the hobbits's merry chatter or stabs of grief when something reminded them of Gandalf.
The elf pushed the paddle deeper into the water, pushing the boat forward. The stream was strong and the boat had good speed, so he needn't paddle hard. Still, it was doing something and thus lessened the feeling of despair.
No time to grieve.
“I think I hear his voice at times, whispered on the wind,” Gimli said, causing the elf to nearly lose the paddle. How did the dwarf know what he was thinking?
“He tells me to have hope,” Gimli went on. “Have hope, Legolas.”
“You are telling me to have hope?” Legolas kept his voice even, not sure if he should be angry or astonished or even touched that the dwarf cared.
“Yes,” the Dwarf said simply. “I could not see any after Moria. If I can see hope through an elf, you can see hope through a mere dwarf.”
The boat turned sharply, and for a while neither said much. The two other boats were not far ahead, though the mists were beginning to fade them. The sun seemed bleaker now as well, as Lothlórien was behind them and only darkness awaited.
No more golden water.
Legolas tried to keep his mind on the water and the boat, but grief and anger were piling up in him and it felt like he could hardly breathe. Anger at the dwarf for being so calm and supportive, anger at himself for being angry, but most of all anger for not letting himself grieve. He wanted to grieve and to cry, but he could not let himself.
“I do not need your reassurances,” he finally said, sharper than he had intended. He could feel the dwarf's eyes on him, and for some reason hot anger pulsed through his body.
Gimli said nothing, and the silence grew tense. The mists were growing also, and the sun seemed pale and cold. If spring were upon them, no one had told the sun.
Even the hobbits were quiet, and there was not one bird to be heard. No cheerful song, no warnings of danger. Just silence.
The mists faded and darkness crept in. Thought it seemed more grey than black, for compared the dark moods of the Fellowship, nothing could be black.
Finally Aragorn steered them towards the west banks, and they set up a small camp. The hobbits already slept, and were carried onto the ground. Boromir and Aragorn soon slept, but it was the uneasy sleep of hardened warriors.
Legolas could still feel the dwarf's eyes on him, saying nothing and everything at once.
“You should get some sleep,” the Elf finally said, keeping his eyes on the water.
“I am a dwarf, not a frail Man.”
“At least Men have the good sense to know when to be silent.”
“Coming from an elf...” Gimli began, and Legolas turned. The two stared at each other, and to his chagrin, Legolas felt tears wanting to emerge.
“And coming from a dwarf, words mean nothing!” he almost spat out, clinging on to the only thing that kept grief at bay.
“Words mean more to us than elves, who waste them on idle chatter and endless songs,” Gimli replied, eyes blazing.
“What would you know of the grief we sing about?”
“Grief is only for the precious elves? You are not the only one who dearly wish to cry at the losses of the world. I feel it too, Legolas. Perhaps I have not known Gandalf for a thousand years, but I feel grief too. Frodo feels grief. Do not belittle us because you have lived longer.”
Gimli took a deep breath and the anger seemed to fall from him.
“If I anger you with my mere presence, I can ask Aragorn if Sam and Frodo will agree to change boats.”
“No!” Legolas surprised himself with the force of his reply, causing Aragon to stir slightly.
“No,” the Elf repeated, more softly this time. “I apologise, Gimli. I spoke harshly, but the words should have been for me only, for they are not directed at you.”
“Think nothing of it,” Gimli said equally softly.
“You are right, Frodo feels grief beyond any of us,” Legolas said, sitting down and leaning against a tree. “To us Gandalf was a symbol. To Frodo he was a friend.”
“He was a friend to all of us, Legolas. A friend and a guide.”
“Who will guide us now?”
Gimli sat down as well, taking off his helmet and letting the wind grab hold of his hair.
“We must go on without a guide, and seek solace in each other. That is, I mean in the Fellowship,” the Dwarf added hurriedly, as if he had meant to say something else.
And the stars twinkled faintly, little dots of light in the never-ending darkness.
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.