4. Chapter Four
Legolas stood still as stone, listening intently. He could hear many things, some of which could not be heard by the others of the company.
The voice of the Nimrodel, music to his soul.
The keen movement of the wind through the silver trees.
The scratchy, snuffly sounds of small animals deep in the forest and beneath the cool earth.
The clinking of tin against tin over the crackling flames as two of the hobbits prepared food.
The creaking of leather from one side of the clearing as Boromir turned restlessly.
Gimli, sharpening his axe with a small stone that he carried for that purpose.
Frodo’s soft regular breaths and Aragorn’s uneven ones – both asleep for the present.
Legolas could hear him, too, sobbing his heart out behind the rocks. Weeping as if his small soul was ruined within him.
Pippin dug his fingers deeper into the damp soil, clutching the earth as if it could somehow restore him to self-control.
----------“Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!”
He pressed his face against his knees in an attempt to muffle the choked sounds of his grief. Waves of pain rippled through his chest, and the hobbit could not remember feeling such guilt in his life, despite the fact that he was well acquainted with the emotion.
-----------“One son I have. Only one. And he as thoughtless and foolish a Took to ever be born within these walls! Leave my sight, boy, before I flail your hide off ye!”
Suddenly Pippin’s small body was overwhelmed, and almost before he could part his knees, he vomited into the cool stream.
It wasn’t much, just some stew and bread they had eaten three hours before at the last real halt. But his body rejected it, and after his stomach was emptied, Pippin’s body continued to convulse, dry heaving for several moments after the Nimrodel had washed away his small offering.
Breathing hard, Pippin extracted his fingers from the soil and dropped them into the clear water between his calves. The forgiving stream sluiced away mud and leaves, and soon his hands were clean enough to splash his hot face and to rinse the acrid taste of bile from his mouth.
When he felt able, Pippin sat back against the rock. Tears continued to flow unabated from his swollen eyes, but the sobbing had been eased for the moment by his vomiting.
“Master Peregrin?” A soft voice, full of gentleness, spoken near at hand.
Pippin looked up, startled, and saw Legolas standing nigh, his face filled with the same unspeakable sorrow he had worn for most of this long, long day.
The hobbit made no answer, ashamed of his lack of composure in the presence of one so strong and sure. When Legolas asked his leave to sit beside him, Pippin nodded dumbly, then looked down, fixing his eyes on the curled dampness of his own hands in his lap.
The elf sat down, cross-legged on the leaves; close enough to touch the hobbit, but not doing so. He had never spoken alone with Pippin. The young hobbit seemed a little in awe of him, of elves in general, and had bonded more with Boromir. But Legolas felt compelled, somehow, to ease the little one’s sorrow, for he understood its cause.
“You blame yourself.”
The phrase was not an accusation, nor a rebuke. It was simply a statement, issued from the dimness beside him, but Pippin reacted as if he had been struck.
“And who else should be blamed?” he spat bitterly, turning towards the elf with defiant misery in his eyes. “It was me that brought the orcs. Me! And we were so close to the gates. We could have made it out, all of us. We would have made it out…”
He broke off, stumbling back into sobs and bringing his small hands to his face.
-------“Fool of a Took!”
Again his body rocked with dry heaving, waves of fruitless nausea that threatened to tip his small body into the water.
Legolas laid a gentle hand upon the hobbit’s back, steadying him until he grew still, then he spoke, cautiously.
“I am an elf,” he said softly, pausing to allow the hobbit the opportunity to sit up, “and therefore death is somewhat of a mystery to me. Even more so the ways and fortunes of wizards, who are more than we. But this I do know – that seldom are happenings small or great the result of one choice, or of one being – rather they are a culmination of many choices and of many events.”
Pippin looked at him silently, chewing on the idea but unwilling to swallow.
“We are a Fellowship,” the elf continued, “each of our actions bound to the other’s. I accept some of the blame for Gandalf’s loss upon myself, as well.”
The hobbit’s green eyes widened at this, and he found himself speaking. “You? But you did nothing…I was the one who threw the stone into the well. I alerted the orcs to us. And the…the other.” His face screwed into pain, and he stopped speaking.
“Yes,” said Legolas, gazing past the hobbit into the gray wood. “I did nothing. And that is why I accept some blame. I did not go back to stand by Gandalf upon the bridge. I know more of Balrogs than any other of the company, save Gandalf himself, yet I did not fight. I ran.” He turned his fathomless eyes upon Pippin again. “I was afraid.”
Pippin was dumbstruck. His small mouth stood open in a hollow bow, and he looked at the elf with mute astonishment.
“Gimli also feels the weight of blame,” Legolas continued, thoughtfully, “for it was his desire to go through Moria from the beginning. And it was his people who stirred up the evil beneath the mountains. Gimli it was who halted first at the chamber of Mazarbul. His people wrote the book which caused us to pause in that place, giving you time to disturb the well.”
The elf sighed, dipping his chin and allowing the gold of his hair to fall forward from his shoulders.
“Each of us must bear our own burdens. But you lay one far too heavy upon yourself, little one. You are only one among many imperfect beings, and although your grief is true, this weight of blame is too great for you to bear alone.” Legolas leaned forward, laying both hands upon the shoulders of the youngest hobbit, and speaking earnestly, as if his words were droplets of water upon parched ground.
“You are not to blame, Peregrin Took, for you did not create the evil of the Balrog. And you did not create the evil of the One Ring. It is not because of you that we journey towards the Darkness, and although you have a part to play in this destiny, the outcome is not laid upon your shoulders.”
The elf brought his hands softly to either side of the hobbit’s face. “Be at peace, little one. Grieve, but do not blame yourself. None know yet what will come to pass, and I would not see your spirit fail before the end.”
Pippin was still for a moment, cautiously embracing this thought. Then he pulled back, leaning his head against the cool stone. With a sigh, his eyes fell closed, and another memory came into his mind.
---------“Ah, look at him, Eglantine! Isn’t he the finest lad you’ve ever seen? He will make a great Thain one day, mark my words!”
Pippin began to weep again, but this time the clutching sorrow did not come, and the tears began to wash the fear from his small brave heart.
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.