45. Lembas Anyone
Chapter 45 Lembas Anyone?
It was a bright early morning. Gimli awoke from his slumber. He stretched his arms and legs, joints cracking as he did. He groaned, rubbed his eyes and looked around. It seemed the other two were already up and out this morning. He looked around the camp. Nothing seemed to be out of place so he did not worry that they were missing. Besides, if Haldir was with Caladwen, no harm would come. He reached into his pack and took out his pipe and his pouch, deciding to start this fine day off with a bit of Shire weed. After enjoying a long smoke, he looked around the forest where they stopped the day before. This was the very edge of the Southern borders of Mirkwood. There was a time when no one in their right mind would have trekked through this part of the woods. Even after the evil was driven out and destroyed, it was still dark and menacing. He could tell when they arrived yesterday that the Wood Elves had worked hard to restore this place. Yet somehow, it was brighter and more enchanting than it was only a few hours ago. The thought left his mind rather quickly as his stomach started to growl. He was too hungry to hunt for a real meal and decided to ease his hunger with a bit of lembas. He reached into his pack and removed the leaf pouch that held his breakfast. A memory came to him of days long past when he journeyed with the Fellowship. He laughed to himself as he thought of the Hobbits first experience with the elvish way bread. Legolas had warned them not to eat too much but they did not listen. They spent the better part of that day moaning and groaning about how their stomachs ached. Gimli chuckled to himself and took a small bite of the bread. "Ugh… How the Elves grow so strong and tall from eating such food is beyond me." he grumbled to himself. "Red meat… now that is what makes a Dwarf happy."
There was the faint sound of laughter coming from beyond a group of trees. Gimli knew that voice. Caladwen and Haldir must be back from their morning walk he thought. He took another bite of lembas, wrapped up the rest and put it back in his pack. He looked in the direction where the voices were coming from. Two otherworldly beings stepped from the trees, entering the small campsite. Gimli's eyes widened and his breath caught as he thought he was looking upon Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. They were absolutely glowing from head to toe with a light so bright, it seemed a blind man could see. The trees around them seemed to bend in their direction. The grass under their feet took on a greener shade. He was confused for he knew that Galadriel had sailed many years before.
"Hello Gimli." she said and the Dwarf exhaled the breath he had been holding.
"Lady Caladwen. You… you look… different. If I hadn't known better I would have thought Galadriel herself had returned from the Undying Lands." He looked at Haldir who was smiling as never before.
"Gimli, my friend. May I introduce to you, my wife?" Haldir said and Caladwen smiled brightly.
Gimli's mouth fell open and he could not speak right away. He regained his composure rather quickly and cocked a bushy eyebrow. "Why you rascal. I knew you had it in you. And they said you could never change. Well if this isn't the best news I have heard in a long time. Spare me the details though. Us Dwarves care not for such mush."
"We would not dream of offending you in such a way, Gimli." Caladwen said. She and Haldir walked over to their packs. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to ready myself for the day's journey."
Gimli bowed and Haldir kissed her hand. "Do not be long hervess nin." They watched as she disappeared into the woods for some privacy while she changed her clothes.
Haldir turned to Gimli. "How well are you at handling a horse on your own, Master Dwarf?" Up until now, Gimli had been taking turns riding with Caladwen and Haldir.
"You know I would prefer to walk rather than ride one of these beasts." Gimli said in a rough voice. Haldir's horse snorted with disregard to the Dwarf's statement.
"You cannot walk, Gimli. It will slow us down. Besides we are only two days from Eryn Lasgalen."
"What are you getting at, Elf."
Haldir smiled slyly. It would be so easy to tease Gimli right now, but he decided against it. "I will not go into detail, but a newly bound couple must stay close for at least the first few days after they…"
"Say no more." Gimli interrupted holding up his hand to stop Haldir. "I will withstand the torture of riding alone as long as you spare me of these particular aspects of elven culture. Caladwen is like a niece to me and I need not know of such things. That is your own private business."
"Thank you Gimli. You have sacrificed your comfort for my sake. I must repay you in some way." Haldir replied.
Gimli thought for a moment, raising a curious eyebrow. "It is not often that an Elf puts himself in debt to a Dwarf. I would almost say that is thanks enough. However, there is something I would like in return."
"Just name it and it is yours." Haldir said in a blissful tone that Gimli had never heard before.
"How about a real meal tonight when we make camp. Perhaps a brace of conies or something to the likes. I do not think I can stomach one more bite of that way bread." Gimli made a face showing his dislike for the elvish food.
"Very well, my friend. Tonight and for the remainder of our journey, you shall have your feast." Haldir laughed. "You will not have to suffer over the taste of lembas again. It is a small price to pay to be able to hold my wife in my arms while we ride."
Gimli turned to walk away but stopped. "Uh, one more thing. If you and the Lady decide to… uh… well, just make sure you go off somewhere out of ear shot."
Haldir laughed like never before from deep within his gut. "I promise we will behave ourselves in your presence friend Gimli. I would not want you to know of my private affairs either. Elves may not hold modesty as highly as Men and Dwarves but we value our privacy with respect to others when it comes to intimacy."
Gimli nodded and headed off to pack up his things. As he put his pipe away, he grumbled to himself. "This had to happen on my watch. I will never hear the end of this when Legolas finds out."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Back in North Ithilien's forest, Legolas could not rest that evening. Something nagged at him and he decided to take a walk. The trees seemed anxious as word spread of a unique happening. He closed his eyes and listened to the leaves rustle and their limbs creak. Finally, he received his answer and his heart fell slightly.
"Legolas?" came a quiet voice from behind. He took a deep breath and hid his emotion behind one of his most treasured smiles.
"Eowyn, what are you doing up at this time of night. Is everything alright?"
"I am fine. I just couldn't sleep anymore tonight, though I do not know why." she said walking up to him and laying her hand on his arm. "What bothers you, mellon nin?"
He could have argued with her, convinced her that everything was fine, but she could always see right through him. His smile disappeared and he turned to look out across the forest. "The trees speak of a spirited affair. A union has been made this night."
"A union? You mean a bonding?" Eowyn asked. Somehow, in her heart she knew it was Caladwen and Haldir. Call it a mother's intuition. She smiled while Legolas' attention was somewhere else. Then a thought came to her. "Legolas? What will this mean for you, for your bond you share with her?"
Legolas sensed her worry. "Nothing has changed, though I feel a slight decrease in its strength. I will not fade if that is what you are thinking."
Eowyn smiled at this bit of news. Legolas noticed her relief and his heart swelled slightly. Eowyn had moved with him to his elven home and they settled into a friendly relationship. Now he could feel her love for him and it seemed to fill the small void made by Caladwen's recent bond to Haldir. He unexpectedly took her hand and raised it to his lips. She felt his smile as he kissed her warm skin. It was the first time she felt any kind of intimacy since Faramir's death, even one as modest as this. It felt good to her and she wished for more. However, the guilt of these long avoided emotions quickly invaded her heart and mind for no one could ever replace Faramir, not even Legolas.
He lowered her hand and she brought it back to her side. "I am glad you are not affected. I enjoy you company. You have been such a good friend to me, Legolas. Thank you for this, for allowing me to live within your forest home."
Legolas looked back out across the woods with a smile still seen on his radiant complexion. "I would have it no other way, mellon nin."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Haldir, Caladwen and Gimli made their way to Eryn Lasgalen over the next couple of days. As promised, the newlyweds behaved themselves for the Dwarf's sake. They continued through the dark woods noticing the new growth replacing the destruction made from years of battle. Caladwen thought about her father and how it must have been to grow up in such a place. He did not talk much about his past and when he did, it was brief. He led such a sheltered childhood, growing up around such evil. Caladwen's heart ached for him. She became more determined than ever to set things right. This time it was about more than teaching. She would help restore Eryn Lasgalen to the place it once was. Even though the landscape was changing, the hearts of the Elves who lived there were still sheltered. They needed to understand that it was alright to trust the outside world. Evil was destroyed. Life was continuing on. As the Elves sailed, they would leave their mark on the world. Eventually, Eryn Lasgalen would empty and the outside world would come in anyways. Why not now, while the Elves still remained? She would do all of this, her and Haldir. When Legolas came back to his home one day, he would see its former beauty, the way it was meant to be. He deserved that much. This was her calling now. This was where she belonged.
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.