3. Might Be Fun After All
There was no discussion as Legolas and Gimli followed Astil down the corridors. For the first time, he noticed Gimli seemed a little nervous himself. He wondered at this, for Astil had given him a pleasant greeting. With that woman on his side, surely Glóin would be civil?
But he could not forget that Glóin was one of the thirteen dwarves his father had locked in the dungeons and then marched on before being thrown together with them as unlikely allies in the Battle of Five Armies. Perhaps this meeting might not be so pleasant after all. Of course, he was not Thranduil. He had not even been present for the dwarves capture, imprisonment or the battle, but had been on patrol in the southern marches. Besides, that was all supposed to have been in the past. But Glóin had brought it up at the Council of Elrond, and quite vehemently. If Gandalf had not intervened... He could not help fearing it would be brought up again.
Astil stopped before an ornate door and opened it without knocking. Legolas followed in after her with Gimli behind him. The door they had entered appeared to lead to Astil's and Glóin's residence. He found himself in a nice sized sitting room with an ingeniously stuffed couch and a couple of chairs before a fireplace. Various framed pieces of art hung over the mantel, and Legolas noted many were of very young dwarves. He smiled and wondered which one was Gimli.
Glóin came in through another door. His stern face clearly showed his displeasure. Gimli frowned at his father, then glanced at Legolas and shrugged, as if to say, "I don't know what burr is up his…" Legolas left the thought unfinished.
Gimli had said earlier that Glóin looked forward to this meeting. It appeared the older dwarf had changed his mind.
Glóin stood glaring at Legolas, who found himself very uncomfortable under such irate scrutiny. He didn't understand dwarves at all, with the exception of Gimli, who seemed to have far more sense than the other males in his family.
"How dare you attack my sons!" Glóin accused.
"What?" Gimli asked, just as Astil snorted and said, "What nonsense!"
Legolas's head tilted to the side as he tried to grasp just what Glóin was talking about. He attack them? Surely Glóin jested!
"You dare to say nothing? You could be arrested for such actions! After the... incident... with your father, I am more than within my rights to do so! Elves!" Glóin turned his glare to his son. "I told you they were not to be trusted!"
Legolas licked his lips and tried to think, but he could only come up with one answer to Glóin's accusation. He sighed to himself and glanced helplessly at Gimli. The dwarf's face was redder than Legolas had ever seen it, and he feared his friend's eyes would pop out of his head!
Another snort brought his attention to Astil, however, who stood with her hands on her hips, returning her husband's glare with fire-filled eyes. "Just what are you accusing our guest of Glóin? He would do no such thing! He is Gimli's friend!"
"Some friend! Attacking his brothers! You did not hear what I have just heard! This elf comes with our blessing, as an honored guest! But when our sons go out to greet him, he attacks them! Would have shot them all with his arrows if Galin had not intervened!" Glóin's gruff voice raised in fury caused Legolas's ears to hurt, and he had the urge to cover his them as he'd done as a child when his own father raged.
Dwarves tend to bellow like bulls when angry!
Astil snorted again and shook her head. "They came and told you this? And you believed them?" She had an incredulous look on her face. "Did you bother to question Galin on the matter? I believe she would have given you a different story all together, as it was YOUR sons who attacked our GUEST!" She folded her arms across her burly chest and grunted. "Threw an ax at him, they did! Rushed at him, and would have caused who knows what havoc if she had not had the wisdom to follow them!"
The lady's voice lowered to dangerous tones. "Now you apologize to Gimli's friend this instant, before he brings your offense to Thorin, and then I suspect you will need to deal with your sons."
Legolas's heart was pounding in his chest. He glanced back and forth between the couple as they exchanged silent glowers. He was horrified that this had happened. Never had he wished to cause such trouble for his friend's family! He didn't dare to look at Gimli.
Oh, why had he come? Why had he promised to visit? He released a quiet breath and waited, biting his lip.
Glóin turned and faced him again, a frown creasing his brow. He looked hard at Legolas, who still felt quite baffled by it all, then just as quickly as Gimli's anger could glow away as if in a strong breeze, his expression changed.
The old dwarf bowed low. "I apologize Master Elf. It would seem I have received some false information. I beg you forgive my outburst! I do not tolerate any attacks on my family. I assure you those of my sons involved will be punished for their actions!"
Instead of feeling relieved, though, Legolas grimaced at those words. "Please, I wish to cause no discord in your family. I am sure they were only teasing. No apology is needed. I am sure my presence here has caused quite a stir. Perhaps," he glanced away, refusing to look at any of them. "Perhaps it would be best if I did not stay..."
"NONSENSE!" Glóin retorted. "Many of our people have looked forward to getting to meet an elf, and the son of the Elvenking at that! Gimli speaks highly of you, and I should not have doubted."
Legolas glanced up at him, chagrined by all the events surrounding his arrival. But he offered a smile and nodded his consent to stay.
"My sons will be reprimanded," Glóin continued, "and I assure you they will not bother you again during your visit. Blasted fools are still upset over that fell creature of yours." And then to Legolas's surprise, Glóin grinned. "Not such a nasty beast, is she? She seems to like Gimli, so I don't understand their hatred of her."
The dwarf gestured to the door with a grand sweep of his arm. "Now, come, the feast should be ready soon, but first I would show you around our mountain, Master Elf."
"Please, call me Legolas." He found the change in the older dwarf to be remarkable! Following Glóin to the door, he was stopped by Astil, who patted his arm and winked at him. He returned it with a grin and exited.
It wasn't until they had walked a few minutes that Legolas caught the look on Gimli's face. And when he did, he actually felt pity for those four who called Gimli brother. The last time Gimli had looked like that had been at the Morannon!
Legolas spent the next hour learning more about the inside of a mountain than he ever wanted to know. Down in the deeper areas, he felt very claustrophobic, but hid it well, as he had no desire to offend Glóin in any way. Much of what he glimpsed he found quite interesting, and he knew his father would be intrigued by the many gems he was shown.
Soon Glóin took his leave to deal with his 'poor excuse for sons', and Gimli followed not long afterwards, but not before showing Legolas to the surface. There he took deep breaths of the fresh air and savored the feel of the sun setting above him. Soon he would have to return to the deep stone halls, but perhaps with a feast to attend...it might be fun after all.
As soon as the sun had slipped below the horizon, Gimli reappeared and led the way back towards the hall they had visited earlier in the day. Sounds of laughter and gaiety flowed out the doorway. Gimli grinned up at him; his anger seemed to have been dealt with for the moment.
"Welcome to the hospitality of the dwarves, Legolas. This feast is in your honor. You are expected to meet all who wish to greet you," the dwarf explained, "so try to make a good impression!" He looked absolutely gleeful.
They entered the room and the noise died down to a low hum of murmurs, and then to complete silence. Legolas was led to the head table and sat in the chair of honor. Gimli sat to one side of him, Galin on the other. Gimli's brothers, Legolas noted, were seated at a different table, far from his own and much to his relief. It didn't take long for the dwarves to begin speaking again, and soon the room was once again full of deep voices and booming laughter. Legolas found himself constrained to tell stories of his travels to the many curious dwarves seated around their table.
The food was delicious, and to Legolas's delight, he was served a fine vintage of wine. Combined with fine company, the evening progressed quite pleasantly, though he still perceived many dark looks in his direction from various dwarves around the room, Gimli's brothers in particular.
After many courses of excellent food and much laughter and story telling, he was approached by one of Gimli's brothers, the younger one named Grayn. The dwarf looked quite nervous, and Legolas smiled at him reassuringly. He would not hold a grudge against Gimli's family...not for a simple cultural misunderstanding.
Grayn cast uncertain eyes upon him and smiled hesitantly. "I would beg your forgiveness, Master Elf, for our behavior earlier today."
Legolas nodded, "No apology needed. Just understand I consider your brother one of my closest friends and would never wish any harm to him."
Grayn smiled again and his eyes began to twinkle. Gimli, however, turned and held his younger brother in a cold gaze. Legolas found himself wondering what such a look could mean. He suddenly had a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, though he could not identify why.
Grayn looked very uncomfortable, and turned back to Legolas. "We were wondering, in the interest of putting the past behind us, if you would join us in a drinking game?" The young dwarf smiled innocently at him.
Gimli harrumphed from beside him, and smirked into his goblet, and Legolas wondered if he was thinking of their own game in Edoras. He felt his own amusement rise at the thought of drinking Gimli's his brothers under the table. It would be cruel not to mention his tolerance for strong drink, yet he could not bring himself to admit it. For all he wished for peace, part of him wished for some small justice as well.
"What are we drinking?' Legolas asked.
"Dwarven ale, of course," Grayn replied with a frown. "What else would we drink for such a game?"
Legolas agreed, ignoring the knowing grins Gimli's brothers tried to hide behind their mugs. He would have the last laugh when he was the last one standing!
Gimli watched the game with interest, declining the offers to join in. This was one game he wished to watch completely sober! He rubbed his hands together at the thought of his brothers' humiliation!
He caught their smirks and occasional head bobs at one another, and though he tried to ignore it, he felt just a tad worried. Something was just not right...
Several hours later, Gimli knew what he had missed. His brothers had drunk dwarven ale, yes, but they had also slipped Legolas a stronger dwarven brew, one made from fermented fruit, and one that Gimli himself couldn't drink much of without becoming quite intoxicated. Legolas had drank more than Gimli had ever known any to hold. He was still irritated with his brothers for sure, but… Gimli couldn't stop his grin. The sight of Legolas completely drunk was not such a bad thing...
Until the elf began to sing — off key — while standing on one of the tables as he started undressing... UNDRESSING?! Gimli blinked, looked and blinked again. Yes, the elf was slowly taking off his tunic, to the cheers of several of the dwarf-women.
Oh, it was going to be a very long evening!
To Be Continued…
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.