3. Shall I Make The Introductions
It took Gimli a couple of moments to respond to the introduction. He mentally shook himself and bowed to the lady, surprised to find he had moved. The lady he had seen in his friend’s arms only minutes ago, the lady he had first assumed was Legolas’s wife was actually his granddaughter? Mentally, Gimli cursed his friend while outwardly he spoke politely.
“Gimli, Glóin's son, at you service, lady.”
Looking up into her bright grey eyes, so like those of her – Gimli swallowed – grandfather, he smiled before turning to send a glare at his friend, who had finally broken the rather lengthy kiss with his wife. Legolas had eyes only for Cellinn, however, and completely missed Gimli's introduction to his Lainel. At least this was one surprise Legolas would not be able to tease him about!
When Legolas bent to kiss his wife again, Gimli rolled his eyes and turned back to Tirn and Lainel.
“Lainel has always been Ada’s favorite grandchild," Tirn was saying. "Well, perhaps, favorite is not the right word, for Ada loves all his children and their children equally. But Lainel has always held a special place in his heart and they have always been very close.” Tirn spoke with much love and pride in his voice, and Gimli noticed Lainel both blushed and beamed at the words.
“My dear little Lainel, when she was only fourteen years, fell into the enchanted river and almost drowned. Ada saved her and sat with her for two nights and days as she recovered. He was also the one to give her the lecture she rightly deserved about staying away from the river." Lainel bit her lip and dipped her head and Gimli wondered how old the lady was. Young enough to still feel some chagrin over her foolishness, it appeared.
Tirn continued. "From that moment on, Lainel was all but inseparable from her Daeradar when he was home. They shared some…” Tirn paused and cocked his head. "Interesting adventures." When prodded for what kind, Tirn would not say, and Lainel only cast him a mischievous grin too reminiscent of her grandfather's.
Gimli’s mind chewed over Tirn's words, focusing on the phrases ‘favorite grandchild’ and ‘all his children and their children’. His friend was married! His friend was a father with three grown children! His friend was a grand...no he couldn’t think it! It was too overwhelming.
Lifting a hand to his forehead, Gimli rubbed his temple. He felt a slight ache coming on. Did he even want to know if Lady Lainel had children? Was Legolas also a great grandfather? He decided he didn't wish to know.
A tap on his shoulder brought him around to find Legolas standing with his wife. So the princeling had stopped his mooning and finally come to make the introductions? It was about time!
Gimli glanced at Cellinn. She had a beautiful smile on her face, but she looked almost as amused as her husband. There was too much flightiness in this family, Gimli thought, glancing around from one shining set of eyes to another.
“Gimli, “ Legolas began, then paused, his amusement turning to concern. “Are you alright, elvellon? You do not look like you are feeling well.”
“I am fine, elf, just fine!" Gimli boomed, not wishing Legolas to know just how off balance he felt at the moment. "Now, are you going to introduce the lady, or do I need to present myself?”
Legolas's smile returned. “May I present my wife, Cellinn.” The lady curtsied, quite properly, Gimli noted. “Cellinn, this is Gimli, Glóin's son, my good friend from my journeys."
Legolas watched Gimli bow, and frowned when his friend turned on the same charm he had used in Lothlórien. “At your service, my lady! I am honored to meet one as graceful and beautiful as you are. I do wonder how Legolas ever caught your eye.” Gimli smiled, and Cellinn laughed. And Legolas got a bit annoyed.
“Ah, and now I see how you charmed Lady Galadriel with your fair words, Master Gimli." Cellinn's eyes sparkled as she cast a loving smile at Legolas, who could not resist smiling back. "I assure you, Legolas did not have to work hard to catch my eye. We were great friends as children and simply grew to love one another as we grew older. And as always, he seems to have made a wonderful choice in a friend.” Her eyes drifted back to Legolas, and he took great satisfaction in the fact she could no more refrain from looking than he could.
Letting his eyes wander over her in another quick caress, he inquired as to where their other two children were. He wanted Gimli to meet them first to avoid too much confusion.
“Glassion is out on patrol," Cellinn explained, her eyes taking on a hard flint that he recognized as her being both worried and irritated, "helping to drive away the remaining creatures of darkness from the woods. I do not know when he is expected back. You could inquire of the king." She looped her arm through Legolas's and began to draw him towards the stairs. Legolas would like nothing more than to go with her, but he had to see to Gimli's comfort first. As much as he'd missed her, he and Cellinn would have their time this evening. He drew her to a halt as she said, "Lindaeriel went with Mithlas to the waterfalls. She should be back before long. They will both be so excited you are home.”
Legolas sighed. "I wanted to make the introductions first, but I suppose they shall have to wait." He glanced back, seeing Tirn and Lainel and then realizing he'd not introduced his granddaughter! "Did you meet Lainel, Gimli? She is one of a kind, that one. Steal your heart in an instant.” He grinned at his granddaughter who glided over to hug him again.
“We were introduced, Daeradar," Lainel took his hand, lacing their fingers as she always did and swinging their arms as if she were still a small elfling. "But Adar did not let me get a word in!” She glared at her father, before turning back to Legolas. “Perhaps, since the others are not here, Master Gimli would like to meet Amluchen?” Lainel blinked and smiled, pulling off the perfectly innocent look that Legolas adored.
But Lainel was as innocent as she was ugly. In other words, she was downright devious, and he loved her for it. This mischievous child was his partner in crime, and their pranks were legendary. Legolas loved his granddaughter’s idea, as he would also love to see Amluchen again, as well. He had feared for him while on his journeys. Yes, he would very much like to introduce Gimli to Amluchen! He had to work to keep his expression blank.
Gimli watched them talk, wondering who Amluchen was. It was an interesting name. He also wondered why the King had not come forth to greet his son, but he trusted Legolas’s judgment in such matters. Gimli supposed he would meet the king in good time and considering his Glóin's experience with Thranduil, Gimli decided there was no rush.
“So, my friend, would you care to meet one who is also very close to me?" Legolas asked with a smile. "Amluchen is almost a member of the family, though Cellinn would disagree. She has never cared for him, though Lainel and I hold him quite dear.” Legolas looked at his wife as she shook her head at him with what Gimli thought was exasperation.
“Go on with you then,” Cellinn laughed lightly and pushed Legolas away. “Go see Amluchen, and when you return, the king will be ready to greet you. It will be about time for the evening meal as well.”
Legolas drew her back for another kiss, and then led Gimli and Lainel back outside, moving away from the halls into the surrounding trees. Gimli wondered how many lived outside the king's halls, and why Legolas was so eager for him to meet this Amluchen. And why Lainel tagged along with an eager expression. Amluchen – didn't that name mean something about a dragon? – must be like an adopted uncle or something to Legolas's family, though the elf had not mentioned such a friend before. But then, the elf had also not mentioned he had a wife, children or grandchildren before either!
Then he noticed that only Lainel had joined them. Tirn had shaken his head adamantly when asked to come, and now Gimli wondered why if Legolas and Lainel loved this person so much.
Legolas answered as if he could read Gimli's thoughts. “Tirn is not very fond of Amluchen either, Gimli. Not many are. I do hope you will like him though. Please make an effort, as he is very special.” The elf looked pleadingly at him, and Gimli nodded.
It shouldn't surprise him that Legolas would befriend odd and disliked people. Why, the elf had befriended he, Gimli the dwarf! As well as Hobbits, Men, Ents and many horses in Rohan. Legolas just had a way with people.
They walked for about fifteen minutes before coming to a small clear area between the trees. It was not large enough to call a clearing, only about ten or twelve feet in diameter. Legolas kept walking, and Gimli noticed the trees around him had strange strings hanging from them. Before the dwarf could ponder that and take a better look around, something hit him in the back, knocking him to the ground.
Gimli cursed as he fell, landing on his face amidst the leaf litter. Something pinned him to the ground. It lifted up enough for Gimli to roll over before he saw the black thing push him down again. He looked up, and his breath whooshed out, his eyes widened, and his heart stopped.
Standing over him was one of Mirkwood’s infamous giant black spiders! His heart resumed pounding at about ten times its normal pace. Gimli called out for Legolas as he tried to reach his axe, but could not free it from its sheath from this position. How had his friend missed this creature attacking him? Never had Gimli felt such fear, not even while facing the Black Gates! He did not like the things when they were tiny! And this spider was almost as big as the horses of Rohan!
Out of the corner of his eye, Gimli caught a slight movement. He turned his head just enough to see what it was, without turning away completely from the creature that had him pinned down.
Standing not far away was Legolas. He was just standing there, doing nothing, eyes wide as he watched the spider holding Gimli.
“Do something, Legolas!” Gimli cried out, fearful of what would happen next. Had Legolas been bitten? Where was Lainel? Why wasn't someone doing something?
A slow smile spread Legolas's face. “Very well, shall I make the introductions then?”
Gimli felt his blood freeze. Introductions?
“This is Gimli, my friend,” the elf spoke soothingly. “Gimli meet Amluchen...my spider.”
That was the last thing Gimli heard before everything went black.
To Be Continued…
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