Legolas could feel Gimli’s eyes on him from across the campfire. The elf did his best to ignore it, but the dwarf was stubborn. At last, after the fifth—and loudest—time he cleared his throat, Legolas turned to look at him.
“Hush,” he scolded, “you will wake Eldarion.”
Gimli chuckled. “I will do no such thing. That boy sleeps like the dead. Stop fussing and talk to me.”
Legolas replied in an overly bright voice, “what is there that needs to be said?”
The innocent act fooled neither of them. “What happened?” Gimli asked him.
At first, Legolas thought to protest and pretend that he knew not of what Gimli spoke, but then his shoulders slumped. “I lost my way, elvellon
,” he said softly, staring at the fire. Gimli could see through the flickering lights shadows gathered in the elf’s deep eyes. “I turned, and my fingers met stone, and I did not know where you were.” He looked up and met Gimli’s eyes, and the dwarf saw that not all the fear of the morning had dissipated. “I knew that you were somewhere near, but I could not bring myself to step away from the stone and find you.” He looked away, his pale face hidden by his hair. “I am sorry…I did not mean to shame myself so.”
Gimli raised an eyebrow. “Shame yourself?”
“With my cowardice,” the elf explained painfully. “I am sorry for causing you such trouble.”
“Trouble! Sorry!” Gimli remembered just in time to keep his voice down. “You, Master Elf, will be sorry the next time you pull a stunt like that! Why did you come in the cursed cave in the first place?”
Legolas looked at him, confused. “Why would I not?”
“Why would you not?” the dwarf repeated. “Because it is such an ordeal! Had I known what I was putting you through, I would have never dragged you into a single cave! I certainly won’t do it again!”
“Nay!” Legolas objected. “Gimli, do not take on so! ‘Twas but a moment that shall not recur! I would not be relegated to standing outside whilst you explore beneath the earth!”
“I would never want you to endure—”
“Gimli, no! I do not—I do not always suffer thus, you know!” The faint flush in his cheeks told Gimli that he had insulted his friend’s pride. “I am not the coward you think me to be! I pray, forget this lapse. I shall never speak of it again, and I hope you will not, either.”
Gimli frowned. “We are most certainly not done speaking of it!” he growled. “Not until I know how often you find yourself in straits like that.”
Legolas stiffened. “You need not concern yourself. I will be fine.”
“You most certainly will not. Not until you tell me what ails you. You forget, Master Elf, I have been in many caves in my time, and I have heard tell of all manner of ailments arising from them. You shall tell me exactly what went wrong this time, and exactly how often you feel thus, or I will—I will—” He cast about for a suitable threat. “I will tell Arwen what happened to her crown at the state dinner last year!”
Legolas glared at him. “You wouldn’t!”
“Oh yes I would! Now, Elf; speak up! And hold nothing back, or I shall be forced to resort to drastic measures.”
For a moment, they glared at each other across the camp fire. Then Legolas broke their gaze and turned away. “Very well,” he said softly. “If you must know—and apparently you must, to make such a threat—then I am not altogether comfortable in the more confined of the dark spaces through which we occasionally are forced to crawl. That is all. I do not know what happened today,” he lied, “but it has not so struck me before, and I swear it will not again.”
“You are lying to me, Master Elf,” the dwarf rumbled warningly. “Speak the truth, or things will soon go ill.”
Legolas glared at his friend, then sighed. “I was—frightened today. I am not usually so overcome, for we pass the small, black spaces quickly, and I know that there will be light soon. And…” the Elf swallowed. “And I know that I need only stretch out my hand and I will find you before me, leading the way.” He hung his head. “Today, although I knew it was unreasonable, I feared that I had lost you, and that I would not be able to escape the blackness. I am sorry,” he whispered. “I know what you must think of me…”
Gimli reached around the fire to lay a hand on his friend’s arm. “I think that you are my dearest friend,” he said sincerely, “and I am touched that you brave the darkness to walk with me in the beauty your people do not know. I am proud to know such a valiant Elf as you, and prouder still to call you my friend. And I—” the dwarf’s breath caught, and he, too, had to swallow before he could continue, feeling tears sting his eyes. “And I am deeply moved to know that you put such faith in me.” He blinked, feeling his vision swim.
A cool hand laid itself on his. “I know that you would never let me be lost, elvellon
,” the elf said simply.
The two friends sat like that for much of the night as the fire burned to low embers in the 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.