Disclaimer: LOTR belongs to the creative genius of JRR Tolkien, not me.

Common Ground

On their arrival at Ithilien, the Wood Elves discovered a large circular shaped clearing, covered with soft grass throughout which flowers of many varieties and hues were sprinkled. The trees that formed the border were tall and ancient and their upper branches intertwined to provide a shady canopy that was thin enough in the centre to allow an unobstructed view of the patterns of the stars once the sun had set. The Elves of Eryn Lasgalen had spent their very first night there and it had since become their favourite place for merrymaking. The shimmer in the air as the warmth of the afternoon sun heated it, reminded Gimli that it was but two days until the festivities. The Midsummer feast was to be the first formal occasion to be held in the clearing and because he wanted everything to be perfect for his friend he had come to make a final inspection of the work.

Rather than build a hall in which to hold formal feasts, Legolas and his friends had decided that the freedom of the natural setting under their beloved trees was much more desirable. Legolas had conceded Gimli's point that whilst the Elves were more than happy to sit on the grass while they feasted, it would be appropriate if there were at least some tables for the guests such as the Dwarves or those who were expected from Minas Tirith, some of whom may no longer be accustomed to such a casual arrangement. So it was that the Dwarves of Aglarond gifted the Elves of Ithilien several stone tables to place in their outdoor hall.

The main table was shaped like a large leaf and the others were carved in the shape of large round flowers and were spread out under the trees in a circular formation making the arrangement look like a giant's garden. The tables were all of a height low enough to be reached by those sitting on the ground, or in fact to be used as benches if desired. The intricate leaf and flower pattern that was carved into the top of each one was a testament to the craftsmanship of the makers.

It had taken many days of combined effort by Elves and Dwarves to make the clearing into an outdoor feast hall, and as well as the tables under the trees, there were now garlands of brightly coloured flowering vines growing around the trunks. A large fireplace had been built in the centre of the clearing and the Elves had made certain that there was still plenty of room left for dancing under the stars.

As he walked through the forest on his way to the clearing, Gimli muttered under his breath about the strange habits of Elves in general and one 'crazy' golden haired Wood Elf in particular. It was bad enough, to the Dwarf's way of thinking, that there were no caves of any sort in the part of the forest where Legolas had decided to build his city, but to make matters worse, the Elves who had come to settle there favoured the flet style accommodations similar to those in Lothlórien; the trees of Ithilien seemed to be full of them, if one knew how to spot them high off the forest floor. Gimli sighed, if the Elf could tolerate visiting his caves at Aglarond, he in turn, would suffer the occasional climb into the trees, as much as he preferred to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Smiling inwardly, he amused himself with the knowledge that Legolas had learnt many new Dwarfish curses as he spent hours patiently trying to teach his friend the easiest way to climb an Elvish ladder. It had been a mostly unsuccessful venture, for Gimli did not like the 'flimsy' rope ladder and a compromise had finally been reached. Leaning against the tree near Legolas' own flet was a sturdy, wooden, Dwarf-built ladder.

Removing his travelling cloak, he rolled up his sleeves and began the task of inspecting the workmanship, making small corrections to the carvings where he thought it necessary. As he began work on the last one, Gimli noticed that the tabletop was not sitting quite right and he attempted to push the heavy slab of stone into place. After several vain attempts, he thought he felt the stone budge slightly, and as he gathered his strength for one last push, a flash of golden hair caught his eye.

"Legolas!" he called over his shoulder, "how fortuitous that you are here, come and lend me your strength to move this stone." The Elf approached from behind and with the added strength, the tabletop was placed to Gimli's satisfaction. "Thank you, that slab was even more stubborn than you are, my friend," he said, turning to face his helper. The colour drained from his face and his smile quickly disappeared as he realised that it was not Legolas who he was addressing.

"You are welcome, Gimli, son of Glóin. So you think my son is stubborn?" asked the golden haired Elvenking from Eryn Lasgalen. Although they had not yet met, Thranduil easily guessed the Dwarf's identity.

"I..er.well that is." Gimli began nervously as soul deep eyes flickering with insult glared at him. "Legolas has been known to be so, King Thranduil," he finally managed. His father had told him many tales of the King of Mirkwood, as it was once known, and he decided not to let Legolas' sire intimidate him.

"A fact I can not deny," agreed Thranduil, casually sitting on the table he had just helped move.

"May I ask what you are doing here? Legolas did not mention you would be coming."

"Because he does not know. I intend to surprise him, if it is any concern of yours. I have come for the Midsummer celebrations," Thranduil replied, looking around the glade and noting the Dwarf's handiwork before turning his attention to a closer inspection of the tabletop.

"He will be pleased to see you. He often speaks fondly of you," Gimli said as he sat beside the King and took a swig from his water bottle, then offered it to the Elf, who declined with a shake of his head.

"As he does of you," conceded Thranduil, slightly discomfited and studying the tabletop again. "The carving is excellent, this pattern of leaves and flowers is much like one Legolas designed when he was still an elfling."

"Yes, it is the same design, he asked me to use it, to remind him of his home, and his Adar," Gimli said, nodding in affirmation.

"Surprising as it seems, it would appear we actually have something in common," stated Thranduil as he slowly traced the leaf design with his finger.

"An unlikely occurrence, I agree. To what do you refer?" asked Gimli curiously.

"The love and affection of my son."