It took the drowsy Eldarion a few moments to become aware of what was going on. He had closed his eyes again against the torchlight, stingingly bright after so long lying in darkness. His still-sleepy mind had to process things for a little before it struck him as odd that Uncle Legolas and Uncle Gimli were pausing so much in their conversation—a conversation that did not make much sense. Then he realized that they must be, for the most part, talking without words.
Eldarion’s eyes flashed open and he stared hard at his uncles. He was determined to learn how to converse without speaking, and he did not want to miss a thing. Grey orbs that showed age far older than his few years fastened tightly on the Elf and Dwarf above him.
Uncle Legolas twitched his eyebrows and blinked twice.
Uncle Gimli drew his
bushy brows down firmly in response and twitched his nose.
Uncle Legolas shrugged slightly and tilted his head to one side.
Uncle Gimli pantomimed drawing a bow and frowned heavily.
Uncle Legolas scowled and clenched his hands into fists.
Uncle Gimli nodded and crossed his arms.
Uncle Legolas jerked his chin up and glared down his nose at the Dwarf.
Uncle Gimli firmly shook his head, and emphasized it with a short, warning, “Elf…”
Uncle Legolas sighed and rolled his eyes, then fastened them on Gimli and thinned his lips.
Uncle Gimli put his hands on his hips and shook his head again.
Uncle Legolas spread his palms and then drew his hands in sharply before nodding sideways at the rock.
Uncle Gimli flung his arms up into the air and glared at the Elf.
Uncle Legolas crossed his arms across his chest and glowered at the Dwarf.
Uncle Gimli stamped his foot and growled.
Uncle Legolas’s face twitched into a grin of triumph, then his gaze softened. “Do not fear, mellon nin
,” he spoke quietly. “I think that it is not so foolhardy an idea as you would fain believe.”
Eldarion blinked in disappointment. He had watched so carefully, but he still hadn’t been able to tell what was being said. He knew that they had been arguing, but beyond that the boy was as in the dark to the nature of their discussion as he had been in the cave only a short time earlier. The young prince sighed dejectedly, wondering if he would ever be able to figure out his uncles’ speech-without-words conversations.
He knew that sometimes his ada, and even his nana, could pick up on pieces of the discussions, but as far as the child knew the only people truly fluent in what he termed “silent-talk” were Uncle Gimli and Uncle Legolas. And the worst part was, it seemed so natural to them! When asked about it, they would stare back at the questioner with equal looks of plainly innocent confusion. Eldarion wished that he could speak without words as naturally as his uncles could. Eldarion sighed dejectedly. “I wish I
could do that,” he muttered quietly.
“Do what, little one?” Uncle Legolas, whose hearing was even sharper than naneth’s, had heard him clearly.
“Talk like you and Uncle Gimli do, without using words!” the child answered dismally.
Legolas and Gimli turned looks of such
extreme innocence toward the child that a more jaded observer would have known instantly that it was an act. “What do you mean?” they asked in perfect unison—another sign that the boy missed picking up on.
Eldarion sighed again. He would never be able to learn how to do that, he was sure of it…
* * *
Legolas and Gimli exchanged tiny grins that immediately sobered as they faced their next action. Legolas could tell that Gimli was remarkably unhappy, and he had given in only after much effort. Finally, pressed to admit that they had no time to waste as well as to confess that he could think of no better plan, the Dwarf had acquiesced gracelessly.
But that did not stop him from shooting dark glares at the Elf as they prepared. Gimli was adjusting some stones around the base of the boulder as a safety measure. Legolas lit the rest of the torches and, using some rocks that Gimli had discarded to prop them up securely and placed strategically to provide the most light possible in the small space. The arrangements completed, the two friends turned to each other and exchanged grim smiles that attempted to be reassuring but came out apprehensive. Quickly turning away they readied the last stages of the necessary preparation.
Legolas knelt by Eldarion to explained what they were going to do. “You shall soon be out child,” the Elf reassured him. “Gimli shall lever the rock so that it is no longer pressing on your limbs, and I shall pull you out from beneath it as quickly as possible. All right?” He caught the boy’s eyes with a penetrating Elvish gaze of enough intensity to make even Eldarion—distant child of the Eldar himself, and well used to such glances from his kin and friends—aware of the import of the moment.
Sobered, the child nodded seriously. “Yes, Uncle,” he said quietly. “I understand.” There was such trust in those wide grey eyes that Legolas was forced to turn away as he was suffused with guilt. How could they have brought such an innocent into such danger? Eldarion trusted them completely, and here they were about to risk his life—yet the child, though full aware of the danger of the task, was not in the least bit worried. He trusts us
, Legolas thought sadly, yet this day we have not proved worthy of that trust. Let us pray that we do so now...
Shaking off his thoughts for later, the Elf turned his attention to the task at hand. He crouched next to the boulder and slid his hands in under it as far as they would go on either side of Eldarion’s legs. He suppressed the slight tremble of fear he felt at the action. As Gimli had pointed out, Legolas was an archer. His fingers were long and nimble—and now waiting beneath heavy stone that could well fall and crush them to powder with the slightest miscalculation. But for Eldarion, there was no hesitation at any risk. The Dwarf felt the same; he would do anything for the child’s sake. He just did not want Legolas to do so as well. The Elf understood; he would have felt the same were it Gimli in his position.
And it was Gimli who stood poised to raise the rock. He trusted his friend completely. The Dwarf might not have full confidence in his abilities, but Legolas did—although, of course, he would never do Gimli the disservice of admitting it for that would break their silent pact of feigned-antagonism.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself as much as his cave- and darkness-frayed nerves would allow, the Elf looked up and met Gimli’s eyes. They stared at each other for a moment, speaking without words, then Legolas nodded firmly.
Gimli pressed his weight upon the flat of his axe’s wide blade and the rock began to rise…
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.