2. Matters of Nonsense
Legolas attempts to imitate one of the stranger habits of his mortal companions…
Six days ago they had left Imladris under the cover of night, only Varda's stars to light their path. From this itinerary Gandalf never deviated: march by night, rain or clear, and try to rest by day under the blazing winter sun. At the break of the seventh dawn they found a clump of stumpy pines to serve as camp, which, to their great delight, was coated in soft, dry needles.
The three watches fell to Frodo, Pippin, and Boromir. They took a quick meal of bread, cheese, and dried berries. Then Frodo propped himself beside a fallen bough and the others spread their blankets and threw themselves on the ground. All save Legolas. The elf stood yet, watching his companions drift into sleep, for the curiosity that had smoldered in his mind for the last week finally burst into flames.
One by one, their eyes closed and their breathing slowed. This manner of rest – to lie down, shut off the senses, to be, to all appearances save a rise and fall of the chest, dead –was fascinating, and had kept him absorbed during the long night marches. It was a habit he had associated most his life to beings of lesser awareness. Birds, sheep, cats, horses. Not people, certainly not men, dwarves, hobbits, wizards… Yet they did. Why not elves…?
He could not answer.
Well, why not try? How difficult could it be to sleep?
He pressed his back to a tree. The bark was tattered and rough. He scooted down until only his head rested against the base.
He folded his hands on his chest. He looked up at the knotted branches and their rippling green needles. Midday passed. The day was very clear and blue, and the cool air was crisp with the smell of pine. Gandalf snorted. Frodo woke Pippin and retired to his bedroll. Pippin, hunched on a rock, nodded and slapped his cheek. No other sound disturbed the camp.
This was not enough, apparently. He tried to imitate their shallow breathing. Five minutes passed, ten minutes… He felt as alert as ever. What was wrong? Oh yes, he should close his eyes. For an hour he kept his eyes shut in tandem with his slow breathing. His mind yearned to transport him to the great forests in the east, a better place for thinking, but he cast aside the urge and continued to watch the daylight through his closed lids.
He frowned. How do you know when you've fallen asleep?
When the sun reached a quarter of its western descent, Pippin roared a yawn and changed watch with Boromir. Plop! Pippin's head landed on his bedroll and a snore immediately erupted from his blankets.
How do they manage it so quickly?
There had to be a technique. Position must be key. He turned on his side as he had seen Aragorn do. A root stuck into his ribs. He turned to the other side. After ten minutes, the pressure on his side became unbearable. Again to his back he rolled.
The sun had now situated itself between two branches in the tree and promptly began roasting his cheek. He returned to his side.
He had his own version of sleep, of course. But his dreams were vivid and controlled, taking him to places of meditation, not at all like the misty ramblings that the others had described to him, and he did not need be lying down or even stationary to dream his dreams. Perhaps if he closed his eyes and thought of Nonsense for a time, he would be Asleep…
He opened his eyes.
What is Nonsense, anyway? Dwarves? Perhaps. Their worship of crafts and gadgets, ever occupied with their secretive bargainings and dealings. Sly and elusive, they hid themselves under the earth and their faces behind their beards…
Evening approached, blanketing the sky in purple and deep blue. Sam was first to yawn and stretch. He hopped to his feet and rummaged in his sack for kindling, a pan, and rashers of bacon. Aragorn next rose and rolled up his blankets. Gandalf paced to warm his limbs and Gimli sat by and muttered in Khazad something with the formality of a prayer. Frodo and the two young hobbits leaped to wakefulness at the first crackle of the rashers hitting the hot pan.
They ate, but to Legolas the bacon became discarnate and the world drowned in a silver haze and the next moment he was perched on his favorite beech tree over the rushing River Running. It was a warm spring day, smelling green and fresh, and a cool breeze emanated from the river below. The birds sang songs of Nonsense…
"Berúthiel's cats!" said Boromir. The big man slapped him on the back and the peaceful forest cracked. Legolas was sitting again on a cold stone under the glare of the Misty Mountains. "You look as tired as though you've run a loop around a mountain. During my watch I observed you tossing and had supposed you were having an Elven form of nightmare. But you'll forgive me, I hope, for not waking you, for I thought it somewhat amusing. As compensation, I will take your watch tomorrow."
Legolas shook his head. "An exchange is not needed! I was not grievously troubled, and I do not need the sleep as you." He paused. "How do you do it?"
"What?" said Boromir.
"Sleep. How do you sleep?"
"On my back, I suppose…"
"Sorry, I mean to say, how do you go about sleeping? How do you know when to sleep and how do you fall into it?" Boromir's eyes clouded over as Legolas hunted the words. "Suppose – suppose you were to teach this to a child, how might you describe it?"
"Ah," explained Boromir. "Ahhh."
"That is easy!" cried Pippin with a cheek full of fried tomato. "You lie down, close your eyes, and think of Nonsense."
"You only think of Nonsense, Pip," said Merry.
Legolas smiled. "Thank you!"
To himself he said, "So my guess was near the mark."
And he was sitting again on his favorite beech tree, sniffing the clear breeze and listening to the chatter of the river below…
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.