Under the mallorn trees so
While standing under mallorns fair,
I asked for a
strand of your glorious hair-------
"What are you doing?" Legolas
asked politely as he approached Gimli at their small fire deep in the
heart of the Fangorn, the kindling chosen carefully in this most ancient
"Harumph!" was the mostly guttural response as the
Dwarf hastily folded a piece of parchment, shoved it under his vest and
busied himself with repacking a quill and ink into an ingeniously made
box with runes on its top. "How is it that your footfalls never seem
quite to be landing on the ground, Elf?" he asked, and Legolas seemed to
see a hint of embarrassment in his eyes.
He shrugged, and took
his place cross-legged on the forest floor near his friend. "We are
mysteries to each other," Legolas spoke, then turned his face up to the
canopy of leaves, gazing at them and then far further overhead to the
sky awash in stars.
Gimli retrieved his pipe from his pack on the
ground, lit it, then stretched out his not very long legs. After
savouring the pipeweed smoke in his mouth, he released it into the night
air. An impressive white ring floated over to Legolas then dissipated as
he twitched his nose in displeasure.
"Well, friend? Say it!"
Gimli began to rummage through his pack again, plundering its secrets
with deft fingers as Legolas slowly returned his gaze from the heavens
to their small fire.
The Elf turned his head
slightly, oddly fascinated by the changing shadows the bag made as Gimli
continued to fish about in it. At last, with a throaty sound of triumph,
he produced a small phial with a single chrysoprase jewel on it, the
yellow-green gem lit up by the flickering firelight.
"You do not
approve of the smoking of leaves," Gimli was now rubbing the silver
container on his breeches leg as though to shine it, and Legolas found
his curiosity piqued.
"I neither approve nor disapprove," he said
softly into the night air. "Are you able to feel how ancient is this
land, the trees, the very air
" He stopped as a calloused hand met
his, the small phial with its odd green stone cradled in Gimli's strong
"Have some," Gimli encouraged, a glint of joy in his
eyes that Legolas had hitherto never seen, save during their recent
brief visit in the Glittering Caves.
Legolas looked sceptically
at the container. "What is this?" he asked, even as he took off the lid
with long pale fingers. Holding it up to his nose, he smelled an oddly
comforting scent of honey, herbs and another element he could not
"Try a drop."
Legolas looked into the phial
after taking a few moments to admire the obvious handiwork that gone
into its making, whorls of decoration on its rim, and was rather
disturbed to see that the liquid contained within had a rather earthy
colour. He raised his eyes to those of the Dwarf, their deep brown a
very echo of the beverage in the container.
Gimli had reclaimed
his pipe and was contentedly blowing more smoke rings into the air, one
hand idly twisting a plait in his beard. "It will not hurt you, Prince
Legolas was not sure whether his companion was
making fun or no, but he lifted the phial to his lips nonetheless. A
very warm, complex and strong flavour made its way through his mouth and
down his throat. Thistle? Blackberry? Honeycomb? He found that he
took a longer sample after a few moments, until the bottle was taken
from his hand.
"One only needs a small amount," Gimli said. After
taking a rather hairy but clean finger to rub around the rim, he drank
some of the elixir as well. Smiling to himself, he put the phial back in
his pack and resumed his smoking.
Legolas sat for awhile, then as
an unexpected warmth and sense of camaraderie flowed through him, he
felt compelled to ask, "May I borrow your pipe?"
Gimli stared at
his friend as though he had just spoken in Dwarvish and asked to learn
how to become a metalsmith. Shaking his head in disbelief, he handed it
over. "As you see fit, Legolas," he said, a hint of bemusement in his
Legolas put the pipe in his mouth and inhaled deeply, then
"No, Legolas!" Gimli said in alarm as his friend
beat his chest with the palm of his hand. "After all this time of
watching Aragorn and the hobbits - have you not realized that you are
not to inhale?"
Once he was able to breathe deeply again, Legolas
gave him a scornful look. "We Elves are truly at sleep from time to
time, you know." He held the long-stemmed pipe at a distance, studied
it, then put it back in his mouth and tried again. As he exhaled, a
small white ring floated into the night air.
"See, that's better,
is it not!" Gimli exclaimed, and Legolas nodded.
"I still do not
understand its appeal, but now I can say that I have tried it." He
leaned forward and returned Gimli's pipe to him. "What was that liqueur
that you just dispensed? And why have I not seen you produce that phial
"Questions, questions," Gimli replied, obviously amused.
"And I thought that Elves considered themselves the most learned in
Middle Earth, save the wizards."
Legolas frowned. "Well, we are
learned, to be sure, but I do not believe I have ever tasted a drink
such as that. It is of Dwarvish make?"
Gimli nodded. "We call it
zhîkomir, and it is a recipe that we have kept secret for generation
after generation. None but the Dwarves know what herbs are added as it
ferments." He puffed proudly on his pipe. "We Dwarves are full of
Legolas cocked an eyebrow. "After our travails and
dangers together, I am well aware of that." He gazed into the fire for a
moment, then looked over at Gimli. "I hesitate to ask again, but I am
curious. Were you writing earlier when I returned?"
but did not offer up any further details. Legolas continued to gaze at
him until finally the Dwarf spluttered, "Yes! I was writing! Does that
come as such a shock to you that you feel you must bore holes through me
with your eyes?"
Legolas turned his eyes to the fire. "My
apologies, friend," he spoke quietly. "I am somewhat surprised, though
by now I should know better." Gimli soon found himself in the Elf's
blue-eyed gaze once more. "Do you write a letter to one of your
"Confound it all, Legolas!" Gimli's face was now a unique
shade of scarlet. "I'm writing poetry, if you must know, and apparently
you must, as you will give me no peace."
Legolas reacted as
though he had misheard. "Poetry?" he repeated.
Trollstrollop!" Gimli was now decidedly agitated, and began patting his
chest and in his pockets. He fished out the piece of parchment and
looked at it long and hard, then back over at Legolas. "I am writing a
poem for Lady Galadriel, though I know it is no good."
laughed merrily, the jovial sound loud enough that it disturbed a nearby
owl which then flew further into the forest.
Gimli scowled. "I
knew I should not have told you," he said sullenly.
Legolas beamed. "I am delighted! To think that not only did you use such
fine speech that you charmed the Lady of the Wood into bestowing you
with three locks of her hair, but you are now lauding her with lines of
eloquent verse. Gimli, I do believe you are becoming positively
Gimli shook his head, then placed his pipe to the ground
by his side and began to tighten his arm braces. "I do not wish to come
to blows, Legolas, but I will not be mocked."
Legolas placed a
pale hand above his heart. "Dear comrade, I mean you no ill will." His
eyes twinkled in the glow of the firelight. "Would you be so kind as to
share your work with one whom you think has insulted you?"
looked thoughtfully back down at the parchment. "Well," he began, "I
suppose it can do no harm. It is nowhere near completion, however," he
said quickly, "and there are many marks on it. Withhold your judgment
until I am finished." He gingerly handed the folded square to Legolas.
"If I ever finish."
As Legolas began to unfold the parchment,
Gimli stood up from the fire. "I'll just go and stretch my legs," he
said matter-of-factly, relighting his pipe, then striding off into the
Alone now in the fireglow, Legolas reverently held the
creased paper in his hands, his keen eyesight making sense of the tidy
letters and strikethroughs.
How is it that one who
in truth whose knowledge spans such vast and hallowed
Uttered such words of untruth?
'Over you gold shall have no
So you spoke, and yet I am bound to your
more tightly than by knot of Elvish
Your grace binds me more tightly than any knot of
Elvish rope could hold
I am woven to
Your shining hair of sunrays, your golden
Your voice raised in lament brings forth unknown
What is there to do?
aught to do?
Shall I kindle fire, and smelt
Mithril woven with rubies could not --- rival
the mallorn trees so fair
While standing under mallorns
I asked for a strand of your glorious
Legolas deftly turned the parchment over in his
hands, and his eyes widened. There he saw a more completed work, which
he found himself whispering aloud.
My eyes for your beauty
I carry sunglow itself, three gossamer strands of spun
More precious than mithril,
Your words of grace bind me more
Elvish rope can hold
Galadriel, luminous vision
You walk in light, a glowing pearl of ever-changing
With jewelled words both gracious and wise
you lifted the weighty call of the earth
And yet, o queen of
starlight at morning
Gold hath dominion over me still
Haunted shall my heart ever be
By glory which must remain
forever as memory
Legolas sat for a moment, silently
rereading the closing lines several times, then delicately refolded the
paper and put it in a vest pocket. Returning his gaze to the flames
dancing in the night air, he smiled. Gimli's affections run deep
indeed, he mused. He glanced at the mossy ground behind him and
decided to stretch out. He lay on his back, hands behind his head, then
closed his eyes and listened to the ambient sounds of the forest: leaves
rustling, the occasional quiet hooting of an owl, hissing and popping as
greener branches of wood were eagerly consumed by flames, the chirping
of insects communicating untranslatable messages to one
After many minutes had passed, Gimli reappeared from the
darkness and busied himself with preparing his bedroll. As he laid the
blanket on the ground, he looked over at Legolas who was still lying on
his back, eyes shut.
"Well!" said Gimli, gruffly. "Do you
Legolas turned his head and opened his eyes. "No. I am
mulling over the words of your lines of verse."
Gimli sat on his
blanket, then, looking down, began to remove his leather arm braces.
"And?" he asked, anxiety audible in his voice.
An ensuing quiet
between the two reigned over many moments as the sound of insect chatter
reached an almost unbearable level, then Legolas responded.
words are beautiful, my friend."
Gimli raised his head to stare
disbelievingly at Legolas from across the fire.
"You only say
that to humour me. Elves are masters of poetry, not Dwarves." The words
rang through their enclave, hushing even the winged insects which had
been flying near their bright light in the dark
" Legolas' words hung in the air, as though
captured by low branches, unable to escape to higher reaches. "It is not
of Elvish speech, surely, and the metre is most indelicate, but -
"It isn't finished." Gimli grumbled. Resigned, he took off his
helmet then lay down, crossing his arms over his chest.
friend succumbed to a well-deserved sleep, Legolas poked at the fire,
rearranging the burning embers. Stretching back out on his own Elvish
blanket, he resumed his position on his back, this time with his ancient
blue eyes fixed on the stars.
Once he was sure that he heard
Gimli's regular sure breathing, the slow inhalations and exhalations of
sleep, he felt free to speak again. Resting his head in his pale hands
once again, he spoke quietly aloud to the brightly-lit night
"The metre is uncouth. But Galadriel herself was drawn to
this Middle Earth, its very substance calling her from the Blessed
Lands. Who better to write homage to her than one who knows so well the
secrets of the earth, especially now that she has departed, leaving the
lands bereft of her presence?"
A distant owl hooted and leaves
murmured in a sudden breeze. At these understated disturbances, Gimli
snorted in his sleep and turned sideways, his back now facing Legolas.
Legolas rubbed his nose, then rested his arm above his head. If only
Gimli could bear the length of life that we do, he thought,
melancholy overtaking him. There is so much yet for me to discover in
this most unlikely and yet dearest of friends.
He shook his
head, then set his sights on the leaves above him. Soon he was
journeying in the non-sleeping, yet non-waking dreamroads that only the
Elves can travel, his hand placed above his heart on the piece of
parchment under his vest.