5. Re Eina
‘Master Dwarf,’ Legolas said softly, hoping Gimli could hear him for he was not sure he could force his reticent voice to grow louder. ‘I spoke too harshly and too hastily. I ask you forgive my earlier comments.’
Gimli nodded, thankfully having heard, and let loose a sound that was somewhere between a cough and a grumble.
‘I sought to somehow ease my own grief and I fear I have now compounded yours by taking you into an hostile wood away from the comforting presence of the others,’ the Elf continued.
‘Do not trouble yourself,’ Gimli said quietly. ‘I found little comfort there. The young hobbits console one another, Aragorn has greater problems to think on now and Boromir…I do not want to guess where Boromir’s mind is, but they each have their own sorrow to contend with. I can manage mine.’
Legolas grimaced slightly at the sorrow in the Dwarf’s coarse voice. He could still hear his anguished wails at the tomb of his kinsmen Balin in Moria and he felt certain that a dwarf’s grief must be a cumbersome burden.
He had once heard, long ago now, that Dwarves sang songs of farewell for their fallen comrades. He did not know if it was true, but if it was, he knew how he would feel if he were unable to hear the soothing voices of his kindred all around him. Even if he could not yet join them, it was a balm for the soul just to listen.
‘Do you understand Elvish?’ he heard himself ask as the Sindarin words of the lament caressed his ears.
‘No,’ Gimli answered.
‘I could try to translate for you, if you wish,’ he offered, surprising even himself. ‘I do not have the skill to translate it as it should be, but it does my heart good to hear such words of him. Perhaps it might do the same for you.’
Gimli only nodded in response.
‘They sing, “O Pilgrim Grey, no more will you wander the green fields of this earth. Your journey has ended in darkness. The bonds cut, the spirit broken. The Flame of Anor has left this world. A great light has gone out.”’
As he heard the words sung so majestically around them, Gimli slowly lifted his head. He did not regard the Elf sitting across from him, but instead looked beyond, and inward. It almost looked to Legolas as if he were allowing the words to slowly dissolve into him. He closed his eyes to do the same.
‘“Journey ended in darkness,”’ Gimli repeated softly. ‘“A great light has gone out.”’
‘After so long a time and so great a life, it does not seem a fitting end,’ said Legolas sadly. ‘Nor a fitting resting place.’
‘Does it not?’ Gimli asked, but there was no offense in his tone. ‘That same Khazad-dum holds the tomb of Durin, the ancestor of all the kings of the Longbeards and the eldest of the Seven Fathers. To me he seems worthy company of Gandalf, the keeper of the light of Anor, though I would consider few others as such.’
‘But to lie in such darkness,’ Legolas breathed, wincing at the horrible thought as it filled his mind.
‘The darkness to me only makes the end easier to accept,’ said Gimli, his voice more gentle than Legolas could have imagined possible, ‘for what besides the greatest darkness could confine the greatest light.’
Legolas opened his eyes to his companion, feeling unexpectedly eased by his words, more eased than he was even by the singing of his kin around him. ‘I had not thought of it in that way,’ he uttered. ‘Thank you for sharing it with me.’
‘Thank you for telling me what they sing.’
Tears still threatened just behind Legolas’ eyes, but a smile curled at his mouth. The Dwarf stared at him, a faint look of surprise accenting the smile that bent his beard and creased his cheeks. Peering across at him now, the Elf tried and failed to recall how he had ever thought Gimli to be lacking in beauty. Indeed, now he was certain he had never seen kinder eyes. Though he could scarcely believe it, it was true: he rather liked Gimli, son of Glóin. He truly liked a Dwarf.
‘I feel I must ask your forgiveness once more, Gimli,’ Legolas said. ‘For I see now that I have denied myself a kind companion on this unfriendly journey.’
‘I believe I denied myself the same, so no apology is needed,’ Gimli replied, ‘unless you are prepared to accept mine in turn.’
‘I am, Master Dwarf. My mind has been occupied much these days with the words of Gandalf,’ the Elf said, ‘as all are I do not doubt, but mine has fixed especially on those he spoke at the doors – ’
‘The doors of Moria?’ Gimli finished for him, astonishment lighting his deep voice.
‘The very ones,’ Legolas affirmed, raising his head slightly in amazement to look upon the Dwarf huddled in the shadows. ‘They were why I requested you walk with me.’
Gimli breathed a light chuckle. ‘They were why I agreed to do so.’
Legolas felt the barest of smiles settle across his lips. It was true that he and Gimli had nothing in common, but Gandalf, his power never ceasing, had given them something in common: love of him, and grief at his passing.
‘Do you think they could be restored,’ Gimli questioned, ‘those happier days of which Gandalf spoke?
‘If we still had Gandalf’s wisdom,’ Legolas began with a weighty sigh, ‘I would say hope remained, but now, I do not know. Those days were so long ago, and as for happiness…that seems even more distant.’
Legolas’ eyes settled on the warm light all around them, sensing the safety and security of this wondrous land – and he could feel it. It was a chill in the earth, a flutter in the trees, but it grew nearer and nearer with each passing moment. This haven, this warm repose of sacred exile was under threat.
‘I fear for the future,’ he whispered. ‘A darkness begins to claim the land. I can feel it in the trees; a sadness, a growing shadow.’
‘I fear more for the company,’ Gimli replied. ‘As the lady Galadriel said, hope remains if our company is true. If we eight remain strong and complete our task then the future can care for itself, but I do not know when we will recover from this loss. It has devastated us each.’
‘Gandalf was the heart of our fellowship.’
‘More importantly, he was our guide through more than just the hills and caverns of Middle-earth,’ said Gimli. ‘He guided us through this quest, our own fears and dangers, our hopes for success.’
‘I cannot help but feel I have failed him,’ Legolas said mournfully, feeling his throat constrict with tears. ‘You and I have reached an understanding, but we have the common goal of the quest and the words of Gandalf to push us to action. What of our people? The discord is buried so deeply within our cultures, I do not know if even the skilled miners of the Dwarves could root it out.’
‘You cannot solely take the blame for both Elves and Dwarves,’ Gimli chided kindly. ‘You must share the burden with me for Gandalf spoke to us both.’
‘Then half of the burden is yours,’ Legolas said with a hollow smile. ‘Beneath that weight, tell me: what hope do you see?’
Gimli was silent for a long moment. ‘I see none,’ he said finally. ‘Our races are alike only in their stubborn ways.’
Legolas closed his eyes to the sudden oppressive swell of air that seemed to descend upon the glade. ‘We have the fates of too many upon our shoulders, Gimli,’ he said. ‘They begin to press upon our hearts.’
‘And our lungs,’ Gimli added, tugging at his collar. ‘I feel as though I cannot breathe.’
‘Yet, with what air we have left, we must find a way. I do not wish to leave a task to be finished by others, not when I myself will be there to see it.’
‘I agree,’ said Gimli. ‘If I fall in the pursuit, then so be it, but I will not admit defeat while I yet stand. I fight to see for myself the ends we begin, so we will find a way, Legolas…somehow.’
Legolas detected Gimli’s voice fading as the Dwarf drifted into his own thoughts. Feeling tears in his eyes, the Elf surrendered to the mournful wail of the minstrels still filling the air as if staving off the impending doom or gloomily accepting it.
He believed in the quest. He believed in the Ring-bearer and in Aragorn who must now lead them. But the task seemed so much larger than all of them. He imagined them now as eight stalwart warriors, their weapons brandished high, fighting to hold back the tidal wave that loomed over them, ready to wash away everything beautiful and dear on these shores.
He was the son of the king of the Mirkwood Elves and while that was of little consequence to the fellowship, surely that standing could only aide him in this massive endeavor to reunite his people with the Dwarves. There was – there had to be – a way to accomplish what Gandalf had asked, but he could not see it. He already felt as though he were gasping for breath beneath the weight of the quest; the burden of restoring those happier days of Gandalf’s was drowning him.
‘Perhaps you might help me, Master Elf. Your memory can only be more accurate than mine,’ Gimli said abruptly, his voice apprehensive. ‘I attempt to recall Gandalf’s exact words to us, for I cannot myself remember him ever asking us to unite our races.’
Legolas slowly sat up and eagerly delved into his own recollections.
‘But I beg you two, Legolas and Gimli, at least to be friends, and to help me. I need you both.’
‘You are right, Master Dwarf,’ he replied, amazed. ‘My memory yields only an entreaty to the two of us, so either that is what was said, or we are both losing our wits.’
‘That may very well be anyway,’ Gimli answered, ‘but at least it seems we are going together.’
‘Another new perspective you have shown me tonight,’ said Legolas. ‘Gandalf did not ask us to be a beginning, he did not ask us to bridge the divide that separates our people.’
‘No,’ Gimli agreed, ‘he only asked the two of us to be friends.’
‘A cheer for the memory of Dwarves!’ Legolas cried and Gimli grinned at the outburst. And it was as if suddenly Gimli had pulled his head above the water and Legolas could breathe again. He saw his own unexpected relief reflected in the gentle face of the Dwarf across from him. ‘To speak the truth, that is what I had thought until I spoke with Lord Celeborn.’
‘I had thought that as well until I spoke with Aragorn,’ Gimli interjected. ‘I had only hinted at the topic when he began speaking of reuniting Dwarves and Elves.’
‘It was the same with Lord Celeborn,’ Legolas said, feeling a wide smile on his lips. ‘It seems the fellowship’s task is so large that no one thought Gandalf would have asked us to do something so small as simply befriend one another.’
‘I think you are right, Legolas!’ the Dwarf cried with great amusement, ‘but I no longer doubt the dedication of the company: you and I at least are ready to take on the whole of Mordor and resolve an ancient feud while we are at it!’
‘If only we could wield the combined might of our good intentions,’ Legolas said, ‘Middle-earth would have nothing to fear!’
Laughter bloomed within the Elf’s chest and he let it out in a great, relieving torrent, hearing the loud guffaws of Gimli accompanying him. The realization was at once so sudden and so soothing it was intoxicating.
‘Next,’ Legolas fought to speak through his laughter, ‘we should turn our attentions to deciding on a temperate climate. Snow, rain, wind, calm – it would be much simpler if we chose just one.’ His back left the tree as he slid to his side, encompassed in hysterics and feeling a wonderful want of breath.
‘Naturally, Legolas, naturally,’ the Dwarf agreed, barely able to force out the words. ‘And perhaps we might also look to extending the reign of the sun, for it would be more convenient for the company if we did not have to fret about nightfall.’
Gimli roared aloud and Legolas felt tears slip from his eyes as his laughter intensified so greatly his stomach began to ache. He did not know if the words they spoke were truly funny or if they were simply too light-headed to respond in any other way. Nor did he care – it felt so wonderful to laugh.
‘And now that you bring it to mind,’ Legolas said, ‘the Misty Mountains have always been far too misty for my liking.’
The Elf heard Gimli’s armor clank as he, too, rolled to his side, lost in his mirth. The happy sound of their laughter drowned out the sorrowful echoes of the lament as they both lay on their backs on the ground, laughing at the sky.
It felt to Legolas as if the weight upon his chest and heart drifted away on every amused exhalation, leaving him light enough to glide upon the voices of the singers. His lungs ached and his stomach hurt, but he could not stop laughing; it felt too wonderful, it had been too long. And the guffaws of the Dwarf nearby were lovelier than any song the race of Elves could devise.
‘If befriending one another should have been our sole ambition tonight,’ Legolas said finally, happily gasping for air, ‘then you at least have succeeded, Gimli. I would proudly call myself your friend, if you would allow it.’
‘I could only deny you the title if I were to deny my own heart,’ Gimli replied, a stray chortle warming his words.
‘Then, we have triumphed, Master Dwarf,’ Legolas said brightly, putting a hand to his aching stomach. ‘We may once again turn our attentions to the quest, where they should have been all along, evidently.’ He grimaced gladly as a laugh broke free, distressing his tired lungs.
‘I am quite relieved,’ said Gimli. ‘I did not care for the idea of asking my father to journey on a diplomatic mission to Mirkwood. He is terrified of spiders!’ Gimli let out a loud, rolling guffaw that easily incited Legolas’ own cheer and the two once again lay helpless on the forest floor, enveloped in an unrelenting bout of laughter.
As they walked back toward the pavilion, Gimli marveled at the changes that had occurred in a span of just a few hours. The noiseless falls of the Elf’s footsteps were no longer an irritant; in fact, he felt the strangest sense of admiration at them. And when Legolas’ light hair caught an errant ray of moonlight through the trees, he no longer averted his eyes for the beauty did not seemed squandered. Indeed, he began to suspect that maybe it was modest for it seemed to him that, like all the finest treasures, the Elf’s beauty within was even more dazzling than his beauty without.
In this one night, Gimli had already shared with him thoughts he had not spoken to another – Elf or otherwise – but he felt no regret. He sensed that Legolas was one to be trusted with such secrets, even if he was an Elf. And he had been there when Legolas had denied the hobbits, refused to interpret the lament due to the weight of his own sorrow. That the Elf had spoken the tender lyrics in the Common Tongue to him was an honor he could not take lightly.
They paused at the top of the stairs descending into the pavilion. Legolas glanced quickly about the clearing where the hobbits slept deeply, their arms about one another, and Aragorn and Boromir dozed nearby on their bedrolls. ‘I fear I have kept you from sleep,’ he apologized.
‘My time was better spent without it – this time anyway,’ Gimli replied with a wink.
A bright smile lit Legolas’ features and the sudden warmth of the expression made Gimli wonder how he had ever thought his handsomeness cold. ‘Now that I have your pardon, I long to claim the remainder of your moonlit hours for myself, but my kinsmen have requested I stay my nights with them during our time in Lothlórien,’ he explained, apology plain in his voice. ‘I would like you to join us, but –’
‘They are not ready for a dwarf in their midst, I agree,’ Gimli said. ‘We have made great lengths tonight, Master Elf, you need not push others on my behalf. Do not forget that we have done all we needed to do.’ He smiled up at Legolas, hearing a chuckle resurface within him.
‘Ai, do not remind me,’ the Elf said happily, his long hand pressed to his stomach. ‘I ache all over from laughing.’
Gimli chortled at his friend’s minor discomfort and was immediately reminded of his own as his lungs stung dully at the action. He could not remember the last time he had laughed so long and so heartily, but he could remember the last time his entire body had been sore. Pain from laughter was far preferable to pain from battle.
‘Now that we have recovered our senses,’ said Legolas, ‘we will have to recover from the recovery. It is good we are safe within the Golden Wood for if Orcs were to descend upon us at this moment, I do not know that I would be of much use.’
‘Ah, then it is in the company’s favor that Orcs do not attack with humor,’ Gimli declared. ‘They would learn very quickly to launch a volley of jokes at the Elf and we would all be greatly diminished!’
Legolas laughed again, a bright cheery sound, and rested a hand on Gimli’s shoulder for support. ‘Good night, Gimli,’ he said. ‘I know when I am defeated. Now, I must regain my strength for the rematch.’
Gimli reached up and clamped his hand on the Elf’s forearm, unable to keep the smile from his face. ‘Though I am no doubt supporting an Elven misconception of Dwarves,’ he said, ‘I must say that, if I could have imagined any satisfaction to be found in this night, I would have thought it to come from fulfilling one small wish of Gandalf’s. But it seems I am far more selfish than that. Happy though I am to honor to his wisdom, I find greater pleasure in knowing your mind better, Legolas.’
‘I believe I am flawed with equal selfishness so I will never judge you for yours, my friend,’ Legolas replied. ‘May I come for you tomorrow when my kinsmen make my evening my own?’
‘I hope that you will,’ answered Gimli, loathe to let this night’s conversation end. ‘There is much we still do not understand about one another and I find myself wishing to know.’
‘Then, I ask your pardon in advance,’ the Elf said, ‘for I may claim many of your evenings while we remain within the welcome confines of Caras Galadhon.’
‘That is just as well. I would like to see more of the splendors of Galadriel’s realm, but if I were to wander about unescorted I would likely be taken for a Dwarven spy,’ Gimli joked.
‘Then I consider it my duty to our hosts to be your guide, for I would pity greatly the guard who approached you in violent haste. He would likely lose his legs to your axe before he realized you carried one.’ The Elf looked down upon him with tangible affection that Gimli could feel in the air all around him and he gladly basked in the glow of another smile. ‘Rest well, Gimli.’
Turning, Legolas journeyed back into the forest, his steps even lighter than they had been when they had set out that evening. The Dwarf strode down the stairs and quickly claimed a clear spot beneath the protective canopy spread above the sleeping travelers. The lament continued long into the night and as Gimli drifted into sleep, he heard a voice, nearer than the others and deeper, join in with the swelling notes of the lament.
He knew in an instant that it was Legolas.
“Re eina” is Elvish for “Happier Days.” The lyrics “translated” are from the film’s Lament for Gandalf, written by the splendid Phillipa Boyens and Howard Shore.
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.