3. Chapter Three
“No, no, no! It’s all in the wrist action, my dear Elf.”
“Look, it’s too big and you are doing it too hard. It will not work like that! Gimli, let me show you.”
Aragorn emerged from behind the trees where he had tied his horse and, stepping up to the edge of the lake, was mightily relieved to find that Gimli and Legolas were only skimming stones.
“No! I can manage, thank you!” Gimli picked up a round rock and effortlessly lobbed into the middle of the lake.
“One!” he shouted.
Legolas sighed, closed his eyes and said, as if addressing a small and somewhat backward child, “That was not a skim. That was a… a…well, whatever it was it was not a skim.”
“One!” insisted Gimli, sturdy arms folded across his chest.
“Very well!” Legolas opened his eyes and, having glared at the dwarf, began to look for a suitable stone. Aragorn settled himself down and began to unpack the saddlebags. The Elf picked up, inspected and rejected several stones before eventually choosing a thin, flat one. He held it up so that Gimli could see it. He moved it round in his fingers so that the dwarf could appreciate its qualities.
“You see, Gimli?”
“No, no! It does not matter what type of rock you use. The shape is what is important.”
“Oh really? I’ll bring some pumice for you to try next time.”
Legolas muttered something in Sindarin that made Aragorn look up sharply. The Elf didn’t often swear, so when he did, he made sure he got his money’s worth.
Moving close to the edge of the water, Legolas crouched slightly, brought his arm back and, with his characteristic grace and economy of movement, sent the stone bouncing across the surface of the water. He straightened up and smiled brightly.
Gimli looked steadily at the Elf for a few seconds, as if coming to a decision. He bent down to look for a good stone. After a moment he stood up carrying what could only be described as a small boulder. Turning his back on the lake, Gimli took the huge rock and began to swing it with straight arms, down between his knees and up to waist height. After a few leisurely swings, he launched the missile over his head with a grunt. The boulder sailed high into the air and seemed to hang for a moment before plummeting down into the shallows. A vast spray of water emerged, drenching Legolas, who had not had the presence of mind to move away from the edge. Gimli turned round to survey his handiwork.
“One!” he cried, arms upraised in a victory salute.
Legolas was standing motionless. His smile had a brittle quality to it now. A fine spray covered his face, droplets hanging heavy on his eyelashes. Drips of water chased each other down the length of his braids.
Aragorn, studying the Elf’s face, reflected for a moment. ‘Dear Gloin’ he would have to write. ‘It is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you that your son has met his death in an unfortunate accident.’ The Elf lowered his head slowly to examine his clothes and shoes. ‘Your son’s last words were, “Can I help you off with those wet leggings?”’
Aragorn braced himself for an explosion from the Elf, but it didn’t happen. Legolas pointedly ignored Gimli and walked serenely over to where the King was sitting. Without a word, he began to help Aragorn set out the food and drink for lunch. The man looked closely at his friend – Legolas seemed perfectly tranquil. His movements, as he picked some cheese and apples out of the bag, were smooth and slow. The white knuckles and clenched jaw that Aragorn had expected were conspicuous by their absence. Out of the corner of his eye, Aragorn could see Gimli, standing poised to run, but the Elf was paying him no attention whatsoever. Legolas, having emptied the bag, sat cross-legged and cut a slice of bread from a loaf.
“Do we have any honey, please, Aragorn?”
This King passed the jar almost hesitantly.
“Thank you kindly.”
Aragorn silently continued the letter of condolence. ‘The details of your son’s death are unclear, but is seems he somehow choked to death on a honey sandwich.’ However, as he watched Legolas spread the honey and take a bite, his fears seemed unfounded. The Elf was genuinely intent on enjoying his food. The fact that he was sitting in a gradually expanding puddle didn’t seem to be troubling him.
“What are the plans for Eldarion’s birthday celebrations?” asked Legolas cheerfully.
At the edge of the lake, Aragorn could see Gimli wavering, drawn by the prospect of a meal but still nervous at the possibility that Legolas would launch an assault.
“I gather there are going to be a great many guests,” prompted Legolas.
“Too many guests altogether, if you ask me,” answered Aragorn. “The whole thing has got out of hand. ”
The King could not but help admire the Elf’s strategy. Gimli knew full well that Legolas would retaliate. It was unthinkable that an Elven prince would take a dousing from anyone, not least a dwarf, without launching a counter-attack. The Elf’s genius was to keep Gimli waiting. The strike would come, and Aragorn could sense that Legolas had the upper hand now. Gimli would be unable to fully relax for the rest of the day.
“How so?” asked Legolas between mouthfuls.
“My original intention,” Aragorn continued, “was to have a small family party and invite a few guests – you and erm… Gimli, obviously.” Aragorn nodded with slight embarrassment at the dwarf who had taken a few hesitant steps forward.
Legolas smiled and nodded, but cast not the smallest glance at Gimli.
“Unfortunately Lanhelm and his team of officials took over and now it is going to be the biggest event since my wedding. Everyone in Gondor seems to have been invited to the ‘Birthday Banquet’. And we mustn’t forget all the visitors from neighbouring lands as well. It’s going to be a circus, I can tell you. Eldarion will scream his head off and quite frankly I think I’ll be joining in!”
“And all this on top of the trade negotiations with Harad.” Legolas shook his head sympathetically, tiny droplets cascading from his hair. “I could see before we set out that you we at the end of your tether.”
“I lost sight of the end of my tether days ago, Legolas. I was hoping you would cast your Elven eyes to the far horizon for me and see if you could spot it!”
Legolas chuckled and took a huge bite of his bread and honey. Aragorn picked up a wineskin and squirted the wine expertly into his mouth. If Arwen had been present, he thought, she would have been disgusted by such drinking habits.
“Did we bring any beer?” Gimli had finally plucked up courage to join in the picnic, his fear of the Elf outweighed by the growling of his stomach.
Legolas, his mouth full, gestured towards a small brown bottle.
“Oh yes, thank you.”
Gimli picked up the bottle and sat down on the edge of a small rock. Normally, Aragorn thought, Gimli would have sat as close to Legolas as it was possible to get without actually sitting on him. The two were notoriously affectionate. How many times had he told them off for playing footsie during important state banquets? But now Gimli was perched nervously several feet from Legolas. Aragorn got the feeling that the dwarf was still ready to leap away and run for it if the Elf so much as twitched.
“Your Chief Councillor is certainly a conscientious man,” said Legolas, putting down his bread and fastidiously licking honey off his fingers. “He pays attention to details. I’m sure he has your best interests at heart.”
“Don’t get me wrong; Lanhelm is a good man, a superb administrator – but he has no idea that there are other things in my life apart from the duties of government.” Aragorn looked disconsolate. “I really haven’t spent as much time with Eldarion as I want to over the last few weeks. This is the first time I’ve been out for a ride in a month! I expected the first years in Minas Tirith to be hectic but now I’ve been on the throne for almost a decade and it isn’t getting any easier. There’s always something else to organise, always another decision to make. I seem to be on duty every hour of every day.”
Legolas’s face was full of concern. “I see,” he said. “What is the phrase my father uses…? Even when a king takes off his crown, he is still wearing it. Cake, Gimli?” he held out a slice of fruitcake to the dwarf.
Eating cake before finishing our bread, thought Aragorn. Arwen would definitely have had a fit. Gimli looked suspiciously at the slice of cake.
“Erm…thank you.” He took it gingerly as if it might bite him rather than the other way round. Aragorn reflected that the Elf had had a great deal of experience in this kind of battle. How did Legolas once describe himself? What was it now? The spare, spare, spare, spare heir to the Throne of Mirkwood. So that would mean, how many brothers? Four? Four brothers and several centuries of sibling rivalry – Aragorn didn’t envy Gimli his position.
“Aragorn? Cake?” Legolas’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Mmm, please. Lots.”
There were a few minutes of satisfied munching. Having finished his cake, Gimli got up from his seat to search for something else to eat. He cut a thick slice from the loaf that Legolas had started. Placing a huge wedge of cheese on top, he sat and began to wolf it down. This time he chose to sit a little closer to the Elf. Legolas spent a few seconds lightening the load in the wineskin, took a bite out his piece of cake and then began to untie the braids in his hair. Nervously, Gimli watched as Legolas untangled the pale strands and squeezed out a few drops of water – a mouthful of food remained unchewed in the dwarf’s mouth. But the Elf merely combed out the hair with his fingers, fanning out the long strands to allow them to dry. He made no comment. His face was perfectly calm. Relaxing a little, Gimli resumed his meal.
“Would it be possible for you to delegate some of your duties?” Legolas asked before taking another bite of cake. He then unbuttoned his tunic, slipped it off and stood up to lay it over a rock in the sun. The shirt he was wearing underneath was almost completely dry.
“I try to, but somehow it always seems to be me who has to make the final decision. It’s always my signature that’s needed on yet another bloody piece of paper.” Aragorn reached into his saddlebag and produced the document that Lanhelm had given to him that morning. “And there’s always so much to read!”
Legolas sat down next to Gimli and draped an arm over his shoulders. The dwarf’s eyes widened a little, but the movement seemed innocent enough. It wasn’t as if Legolas was holding anything in that hand. Was he? Aragorn smiled to himself – Legolas was toying with the dwarf and, what is more, he could keep it up for hours. Days even. Perhaps it would be the middle of next week when retribution came. But come it most certainly would.
“Anyway,” he continued, tossing the parchment into the middle of the picnic, “I can’t trust everyone like I can trust Lanhelm. Some of those junior officials need to be watched.”
“Oh… well, perhaps I’m being overly cautious. It’s just that the young councillor who came to see me yesterday about the arrangements for the visit of Lord…” Aragorn waved one hand vaguely in the air. “Lord Thingummybob. This councillor was…well, let’s just say I expect he hasn’t even started shaving yet!”
“Don’t say the ‘S’ word in front of Gimli!” cried Legolas, covering the dwarf’s ears with his hands. Gimli’s flinch was so small as to almost unnoticeable, but Legolas seemed in genuine good humour. Gimli placed a hand affectionately on the Elf’s knee – a rather damp knee, now that he came to notice it.
Aragorn laughed. It felt good to talk about his troubles with those two. There were not many people in the world with whom he could speak like this. Arwen, naturally, was his confidante, but nowadays, Aragorn reflected, they seemed to talk almost exclusively about Eldarion. No one had warned him that, when a baby arrives, a marriage is never the same again; still wonderful, of course, but not quite the same. The mother’s attention is diverted from her husband to her child. The couple is a couple no more. Two becomes three, and although Aragorn had heard that three people in a relationship could be entertaining in some circumstances, he felt that this wasn’t one of them.
Perhaps that’s what was really bothering him, he thought. Not the governance of his country, but his place in his own family. His duties as King meant that he could not spend as much time with Eldarion as he would have liked. It was inevitable, unavoidable, but it meant that sometimes days would go by and he would catch little more than a glimpse of his son. There were times when he felt that Arwen and Eldarion had a world of their own, a world in which he was but a peripheral figure. He sighed.
Legolas noticed his friend’s dejected face and decided to change the subject. “We are looking forward to giving Eldarion his present tomorrow, aren’t we Gimli?”
“Oh, yes, very much so. You wouldn’t believe the difficulty we had in choosing something appropriate. Took us ages, it did. We went through a whole list! It caused such an argument!”
Aragorn frowned. “I hope you two weren’t at each other’s throats again.”
“Well, in a manner of speaking…” began Legolas.
“And did you enjoy your stay in Ithilien, Gimli?” said Aragorn before either of them could elaborate.
“Yes, yes, I had a wonderful time. Ate too much, drank too much and lazed about all day long. Superb! Just what I needed! Mind you, I’m still getting used to the idea of sleeping in a house built in the branches of a tree. It was quite stormy last week. You wouldn’t believe how much the bedroom moves in the night.”
“One does one’s best,” murmured Legolas with quiet satisfaction.
Aragorn rolled his eyes. There was no stopping the Elf when he was in this mood.
The three friends helped themselves to more food and drink. The picnic was simple but much appreciated. A welcome contrast, thought Aragorn, to the fussy food he had become accustomed to eating at official functions. Gimli made a small campfire; not for the warmth – the afternoon was gloriously sunny – but for the sake, he insisted, of making toast. For a while he sat happily toasting pieces of bread on the end of a stick and then smothering them with obscene quantities of honey.
“You know,” he said at length, with a look of infinite wisdom. “You two govern your lands in the same way as you ride your horses.”
Aragorn and Legolas exchanged glances and turned to Gimli.
“Would you care to elaborate, my dear dwarf?”
Gimli reached over to the saddlebag and began to root through the pockets. “Well, think about it for a minute.” Gimli produced a pipe and packet of pipeweed. “Arago… sorry… King Elessar labours night and day in the service of his kingdom. He oversees every detail of administration, signs every piece of paper, attends every meeting.”
“Yes?” said Aragorn slowly.
“His diary is full. He feels that he is indispensable. He has not had a day of rest in the last two months.” Gimli offered the packet to Aragorn who had found his own pipe. “King Elessar is exhausting himself because his feels he has to keep a very tight grip on the governance of his country. His advisors can be difficult. He has to fight all the way, just like he had to fight that horse all the way from Minas Tirith.”
“It wasn’t all the way—” began Aragorn, but Gimli was in full flow.
“Whereas Legolas here has a totally different approach.”
“Mmm?” the Elf’s eyes narrowed.
“When he rides a horse he doesn’t even bother with reins. He just sits there, completely relaxed, enjoying the ride.”
“Are you suggesting—?”
“It’s the same when he’s ruling his colony in Ithilien. Have you noticed he never actually organises anything, Aragorn? A few Elves will turn up and they’ll have a chat and a glass of wine, and someone will mention this and that, and Legolas will suggest vaguely that they could, perhaps, do such-and-such – maybe, possibly – but he never actually makes a decision. He never tells anyone what to do.”
The Elf’s naturally pale face had become, if it were possible, a little paler.
“I’m not saying things don’t get done, Legolas,” reassured Gimli, intent upon tamping down the weed in his pipe. “It’s just that you never seem to be actively ruling.”
“I beg your pardon?” The Elf was sitting bolt upright now.
“As someone who knows you both well, I can see quite clearly that King Elessar of Gondor has a more dynamic and forceful style of leadership than Lord Leggles of Ithilien.”
That’s it, thought Aragorn. First Gimli soaks Legolas and now he’s just called him Leggles. We are going to be taking the dwarf home on a stretcher!
“I’m not saying that being dynamic is a good thing, mind you,” Gimli continued relentlessly as he lit his pipe. “After all, King Elessar is the one who is exhausted while old Leggy here is full of energy.”
My word, thought Aragorn. I’ve never noticed before how the tendons in Legolas’s neck stand out. Leggy? Maybe they would have to gather the pieces of dwarf together before they could be assembled on the stretcher.
“I think,” said Aragorn hastily, “that what Gimli is trying to say, in his own inimitable fashion, is… that your style of leadership is more subtle than mine, Legolas. That you are better than I at delegating responsibility.”
“Am I?” Gimli looked up from his pipe and, at last, noticed Legolas’s face. The Elf’s expression put him in mind of King Thranduil the first time he had caught sight of him and Legolas holding hands. “Erm, yes. Absolutely! Well put, Aragorn. ‘Subtle.’ Exactly right.”
“Yes, and of course,” added Aragorn, “you have known your advisors for many hundreds of years. They knew you as a Prince of Mirkwood long before you created the colony in Ithilien. They have learned to anticipate your wishes. By Elven standards I am relatively new to the role. I have to be more forceful with my councillors. They are still getting to know me.”
The Elf looked very slightly mollified.
“And we must also remember,” said Gimli in measured tones, “that it is much easier for Legolas to have a relaxed attitude towards his government. After all, Legolas is in charge of a pretty little colony of harmless wood-elves, while King Elessar rules over the vast and diverse countries of the Reunified Kingdom.”
Aragorn almost bit through his pipe.
“So to continue your horse-riding metaphor,” Legolas said in a slow, careful voice, “you are saying that the Little Mare of Ithilien is trivial to control in comparison with the Mighty Stallion of Gondor.”
“Exactly!” cried Gimli at the same moment as Aragorn said, “Not quite!”
“I think I’ll go and check on the horses,” said Legolas, standing up in one smooth movement.
Gimli’s hand snaked out and caught the Elf by the wrist.
“Legolas!” he growled.
The Elf made a half-hearted attempt to free his arm.
“Legolas! You know very well that I am only trying to vex you.”
“Congratulations, Gimli! You have succeeded admirably,” said Legolas, staring moodily out across the lake.
“Come on.” The dwarf tugged gently on the Elf’s wrist. “Sit down, sit down.” The dwarf’s voice became wheedling. “Legolas, please? You know I admire what you have done in Ithilien. Come on, now.”
Legolas turned his gaze on the dwarf at last. “Tell me,” he said as he allowed himself to be pulled back down, “why on earth did I give you the nick-name ‘Elf-Friend’?”
“If you’re very lucky, I’ll remind you tonight!” said Gimli grinning wickedly and waggling his bushy eyebrows.
“Gimli!” Legolas swiftly cuffed the side of Gimli’s head. Gimli responded with an elbow in the ribs. Maybe I should go and check on the horses, thought Aragorn as the Elf and dwarf playfully pushed and shoved each other. Aragorn busied himself with having a drink and slicing some more cheese. By the time he had finished, his companions had stopped their affectionate rough and tumble.
“To be serious for a moment,” Gimli continued, realising that he still had some ground to make up with Legolas. “I do have the utmost respect for what you have achieved in Ithilien. You and your Elves have transformed the place. It is true that you do not actually do that much in the way of commanding your people, but that is because you don’t have to. You don’t need to. All the Elves in Ithilien followed you there because they love and respect you. You have nothing to prove to them. Every single one of them is as old as the hills and what they don’t know about living in a forest isn’t worth knowing. There isn’t the slightest need for you to be a domineering leader, Legolas, because your Elves don’t require it. They know perfectly well what to do. Take that second-in-command of yours – Airufil…Aerovil…”
“Eruviluion! Exactly, now did you have the slightest hesitation in leaving… what’s-his-name in charge and coming with me to Minas Tirith? Of course not! Why should you? You’ve known each other since you were both saplings—”
“Sorry, Elflings, and you trust him with your life. You know that Eru-thingy will make the right decision. It’s the same with all of them. You can trust them.”
Legolas nodded slowly. “Perhaps you are right.” He smiled. Sapling! Come to think of it, that would be rather an appropriate term for a baby wood-elf.
“Of course I am,” said Gimli. “It’s just that you have never thought about it in those terms. Now Aragorn, you’re in a different situation and you have a different strategy, but I’m saying that it could be of benefit for you to take a more…a more Leggy-like style of leadership.”
The Elf winced at the mention of the distasteful sobriquet but let it pass.
“There is something in what you say about my style of leadership,” Aragorn admitted reluctantly. “I do find it hard to delegate. I do try to keep too tight a control over everything that is going on. I may lay the blame on Lanhelm, but the only person responsible for my hectic schedule is me.”
Both Legolas and Gimli were nodding encouragingly.
“Perhaps I should make more effort to make less effort, if you see what I mean.”
“It’s worth thinking about at the very least,” said Gimli.
Yes, thought Aragorn, for the sake of Eldarion and Arwen as much as my own. He picked up the document that his Chief Councillor had given to him that morning. “And I must also make it abundantly clear to Lanhelm that when I take a day’s holiday, I do not want to be bothered by all this!” Aragorn waggled the parchment in the air.
“Hear, hear!” said Gimli.
“Absolutely!” said Legolas.
“And we do not need a rehearsal for the birthday celebrations tomorrow!” Aragorn continued.
“Bravo!” cried Gimli.
“Hooray!” cried Legolas. They were both applauding.
“And one of my junior officials can discuss the new tax arrangements with the Elves in Ithilien!”
“Yes!” said Gimli.
“Tax!” shrieked Legolas. “Tax! Tax? What tax? We do not pay—”
Aragorn howled with laughter at the Elf’s horror-struck expression.
“But when it comes to the job of Elf-baiting, Legolas, I will steadfastly refuse to delegate to anyone. It’s far too much fun.”
Thereafter the beer and wine disappeared rapidly and if anyone had passed by the lake that afternoon, they would have been regaled by peals of laughter and snatches of songs, the lyrics of which would have made a soldier blush. Gimli’s spirited rendition of ‘Every Sword Needs A Scabbard’ confirmed for Aragorn that it was just as well Arwen had chosen not to accompany them. And as for Legolas’s performance of ‘The Lay of Nimrodel’… well, the King was forced to admit that the hand gestures did add a certain something.
Eventually the time came for the companions to make their way back to Minas Tirith. Legolas fetched the horses as Aragorn and Gimli reluctantly packed away the scant remains of their meal. The Elf stood talking quietly to the chestnut mare and, as Aragorn came over to prepare his own horse, he thought he saw an extra gleam in his friend’s bright eyes. He imagined that Thranduil had seen that gleam on many occasions when Legolas was a youngster, probably just before one of the older Princes became mysteriously covered in mud, or found a baby spider in his bed. Legolas noticed Aragorn’s querulous look and gave the King one of his most disarming smiles. The majority of people, thought Aragorn, would be entirely convinced by an expression of such angelic innocence, but he’d known the Elf for more years that he cared to remember and therefore became extremely suspicious. He began to regret his earlier comment about taxes.
Aragorn mounted his horse and prepared to move off. Legolas and Gimli were settling themselves upon Laeriel. Legolas encouraged the horse to follow Aragorn’s stallion and all seemed well as she began to walk. After a few strides, Legolas suddenly turned around to Gimli.
“Oh, we’ve forgotten to pack the… er…mumble, mumble…” and, lifting his leg over the horse’s neck, he dropped lightly to the ground.
“The what? Legolas, we haven’t forgotten anything. I checked,” Gimli remonstrated.
The Elf pretended to be scanning the edge of the lake for something. Laeriel began to walk towards the water.
“Erm…Legolas?” Gimli lunged forward to grab the horse’s mane as she splashed into the lake enthusiastically. “Legolas!”
“I thought I saw it here earlier,” muttered the Elf, his eyes studiously averted from the paddling horse and her panicking rider.
“Legolas!” Laeriel was wading further in. The water was up to her belly now. “Legolas!”
At last the Elf looked round and gasped in mock amazement at the dwarf’s plight.
“Gracious me, Gimli! How did that happen? Laeriel! What do you think you are doing?”
The mare glanced briefly at her master, who smiled and nodded at her encouragingly. She turned her head and waded deeper into the lake so that Gimli had to lift his feet up to keep them dry. She stopped only when the water was half way up her quarters, and stood looking round at Legolas, snorting as if sharing the joke.
“Get this thing out of the lake!” yelled Gimli from his precarious position curled up on the horse’s back.
“Thing? Oh, dear! I did warn you that she understands every word, didn’t I?” Legolas asked, as Laeriel took another step into the water.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry. I meant horse! Get this horse out of the water! Talk to it, Legolas! Aragorn! Come and help me!”
Aragorn was rocking with silent laughter. He toyed briefly with the idea of riding into the lake to rescue Gimli, but decided that, on the whole, it was more fun to watch him struggle.
“Right!” shouted Gimli, slipping a little and accidentally dipping a foot into the water. “Right! What do I have to do to get you to talk some sense into this animal, Elf?”
Legolas was standing on the water’s edge gazing at the sky with a beatific smile. “Well now,” he pondered, absentmindedly twisting a strand of hair around his finger. “What do you have to do? Hmmm! Let me think.”
“I believe an apology is in order, don’t you?”
“Apology? What for?”
“Have you still got that parchment, Aragorn? I may have to make a list.”
Gimli looked down into the water speculatively. Perhaps I could swim, he thought. I’ve never learned how, but surely Legolas wouldn’t let me drown. Would he? Well, Aragorn definitely wouldn’t. He slipped again and plunged his other foot into the water – the deep, cold water.
“And it has to be a sincere apology, mind you.”
In a small voice the dwarf began, “I’m sorry I got you wet and called you Leggy and said that Ithilien was a—”
“Pardon?” yelled the Elf, theatrically cupping his ear with his hand.
Gimli rolled his eyes and started again. “I’m sorry I got you—”
“We were hoping for something a bit more formal than that, weren’t we Laeriel?”
The mare tossed her head, causing Gimli to grab even more tightly at her mane. He swallowed his pride before the lake swallowed him. “I, Gimli, Lord of Aglarond,” the dwarf said tiredly, as if every word were being dragged out of him. “Do must humbly beseech the forgiveness of His Royal Blondness, Legolas Thranduilion, Prince of Mirkwo—”
“Ah!” Legolas held up an admonitory finger.
“Prince of Eryn Lasgalen and Lord of…” Legolas raised one delicate eyebrow at the dwarf. Gimli sighed. “Lord of a Very Important and Much Beloved Colony of Elves in Southern Ithilien…” Legolas closed his eyes in satisfaction as Gimli’s reluctant words washed over him. The only thing, he reflected, that could possibly make this moment better, would be if his father and Gloin were here to witness it.
“Try that once again for me, mellon-nin! Just a little louder!”
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.