Dark Whispers

"I wonder what's going on in the Shire right now." Sam mused aloud as the Fellowship was settling down for the night.

"The Green Dragon is probably filled with people." Merry responded softly. "What I wouldn't give to be home right now."

"Me, I'd settle for a pint." Pippin sighed. "Several of my mum's sweet cakes would be nice too."

Merry looked over at his older cousin. "What about you Frodo?"

"I'd settle for a brew myself. I really miss sitting in front of the fire at night listening to Bilbo's stories." Frodo responded adding a moment later. "Do you remember that? When we were younger?"

"Aye I do," laughed Merry. "I also remember a certain wizard who would also entertain us thusly."

"Yes well I'm sure Bilbo could have done without you scamps trying to imitate what you heard." Gandalf chuckled.

Frodo laughed lightly. "We were terrors weren't we?"

Gandalf snorted. "It is a wonder the Shire survived you four."

"Hey that's not fair." Boromir laughed in amusement. "You said the same thing about Faramir and I when we were growing up."

"I remember hearing something of the same." Gimli chuckled.

Legolas light voice was full of mirth. "I know Aragorn and I have heard it plenty of times too."

Gandalf raised his eyes imperiously. "Elrond was right in placing all of you in the Fellowship. There is no way Sauron will be able to fight all of you combined."

"I miss the comforts of stone." Gimli said softly. "There is so much open land here."

Boromir nodded. "I miss the familiar walls of the city and my brother. Faramir would have liked to have seen the things I have."

"Don't worry Boromir." Aragorn smiled. "Just think after this is all done you'll have seven new companions to introduce him to. I'm sure between us we'll talk his ears off and have his eyes on the stars."

"You won't have far to go then. My brother is a fine warrior but he's always been a dreamer. He will enjoy meeting all of you."

"Legolas what will you do when you get home?" Sam asked curiously.

Legolas grimaced. "I am in no rush to get home though I miss my beloved woods."

Pippin was aghast. "Why not? I am sure your family misses you."

"I am sure my father will have words with me when I get there."

Merry frowned. "Why will he be mad at you? Won't he be glad to see you?"

Legolas snorted. "Oh he'll be glad to see me. Then I am sure he'll lock me in my rooms for the next hundred years. It will be my punishment for worrying him so."

Aragorn laughed outright. "He will not be pleased that is certain. My sympathies to the poor fool that has to tell him where his son is."

"And it's all your fault Dunedain." Legolas amended. "My father wasn't pleased with me going off with you sixty years ago."

Boromir was curious. "Your father sounds strict. This is a dangerous mission and one that cannot fail. Would he have restricted you from it?"

Legolas straightened mimicking his father's stance. "You have your duties to attend to Legolas."

Aragorn rolled with laughter seeing in his mind's eye Thranduil scolding his errant son. The young prince was very much like his father.

Legolas continued. "You should not be behaving like you do and running around with the sons of Elrond or that human-"

The hobbits burst into giggles at that.

"-Strider, Aragorn, whatever names he chooses. And the next time you miss court because you are out chasing orcs I will see to it personally that you do not leave Eryn Lasgalen for the next two hundred years!"

By the time Legolas was done everyone was laughing at his speech.

Legolas reached over and cuffed Aragorn. "And it is all your fault too Ranger."

"I remember that speech." Aragorn replied as he reined in his mirth. "That was right before the Midsummer Festival. You were to hold court that day but snuck out with me and my brothers to hunt."

Legolas shot the human a withering look.

Across the fire Pippin frowned worridly. "Legolas why would you be in court? Were you in trouble?"

Legolas froze a second before turning to the hobbit neutrally. "No I wasn't in any trouble."

Aragorn shook his head. "It's not that kind of court Pippin. Legolas is talking about the royal court."

Legolas looked over to glare at the ranger catching his eyes warningly.

"What do you do in Mirkwood Legolas?"

Legolas stifled a sigh at Pippin's unending and ill timed questions. Normally he would not have minded and would have talked freely of his home, but he knew the dwarf was listening. He could feel the coal, dark eyes on him. It rankled him greatly. Of course, that was no reason not to shoot the little bearded pain in the neck. "I work for the royal court, sometimes as a guard or a messenger, among other things."

Gimli hissed something in dwarvish under his breath as he fixed glittering eyes on the elf. The hobbits had totally missed the dwarf's reaction to this news but the warriors of the company soon picked up on the building tension.

"Then you must know King Thranduil." Merry stated with barely concealed excitement.

"Aye." Legolas responded shortly.

Frodo sat up alert his eyes a light. "Where you there when Bilbo traveled through?"

"Yes and no." Legolas replied carefully. "I was on patrol near the southern reaches of the forest. I was told when I returned, two days or so after the dwarves were detained."

"Detained?" Gimli muttered angrily. "That is a polite term for imprisoning my father! Cold cells, little food and water, guards everywhere."

"Son of Gloin, your father escaped did he not?" Legolas snapped. "I do not know what you have been told, but I do know there was plenty of food for all. There were only two guards on post and those cells as you call them were clean and had sleeping pallets. As for warmth they were built over the thermal vents of the palace, so I doubt they were cold."

"And how would you know Master Elf?" Gimli spat. "Were you one of the guards?"

"No!"

"Who then?"

Legolas faultered. "No one of importance."

Gandalf's voice broke between them sharply. "That is enough you two. There has been enough grievances between your races to last an age. There has been faults on both sides. I do not know why either of your races insist on keeping this long standing grudge. It benefits none."

"That's easy." Aragorn replied trying to break the tension. "Both races are hard headed and stubborn."

The others chuckled at the remark relaxing with relief as the confrontation was diverted.

"Legolas does the King have any children?" Pippin asked recieving a sharp elbow from his cousin. "What? That wasn't nice Merry, I was just curious."

Legolas hid a sigh. "Yes Pippin, he has a son."

Smiling triumphetly at his cousin, Pippin continued undeterred. "Do you know him? What's his name?"

Legolas' nose wrinkled slightly. "Yes I know him. His name is Greenleaf."

Aragorn caught the elf's eye and whispered quietly in Sindarian. "That is cutting it close my friend."

"Shut up Estel."

Across the fire Gimli snickered in amusement. "Greenleaf?"

Frodo frowned. "Legolas doesn't your name-"

"I think that is enough for tonight all of you." Gandalf interrupted loudly. "We have a long day tomorrow so I suggest everyone gets some sleep."

"I will take first watch." Legolas volunteered rising gracefully to his feet.

"Very well then." Gandalf nodded. "Now everyone to bed."

The Fellowship began to settle down in their bedrolls making themselves comfortable on the heavy grass. Feeling eyes on him Legolas turned to see Frodo looking at him intently. Legolas raised a finger to his lips.

Frodo nodded mouthing the word 'later.'

~*~*~*~

Frodo eased himself up from his bedroll glancing around at the slumbering Fellowship. Assured everyone was asleep he extracted himself from the other hobbits. With a last backward glance he headed towards the perimeter of the camp his eyes searching for Legolas.

He did not see the elf.

Frodo hesitated. He did not want to leave the safety of camp. He was pretty sure Legolas would not have gone to far.

"Over here Frodo."

Startled Frodo turned to find the elf sitting behind him with his back against a tree. "That is really unnerving."

"My apologies." Legolas replied flashing a smile.

Frodo gave a soft laugh as he settled himself down beside the elf. "Bilbo always said you could not find a Mirkwood elf in the woods if he had no wish to be found."

"Your Uncle is a very wise hobbit."

"And you are a very strange prince Legolas."

Legolas' lips thinned into a humorless smile. "You believe so?"

"You are the Prince of Mirkwood aren't you?" Frodo asked his wide blue eyes looking at the elf in awe.

"I am. I am also an elf no better than any other elf."

"Is that why you did not tell us?"

Legolas nodded. "I do not wish to be seen as a prince only. I am a warrior first. My duty is to protect my people. Even if that means marching to Mount Doom. I only hope I can be of help to you. You are a true hero Frodo."

Frodo's eyes widened. "Me?"

"Your bravery and selflessness will long be remembered after my people pass from these shores. You choose to do something that the best warriors of Middle Earth were frightened to do. While we bickered you made the decision."

"I am frightened Legolas." Frodo said softly looking down at his lap.

"As am I." Legolas tilted the hobbit's chin up with a slender finger. "We, the Fellowship, will stand by you Frodo. We are all afraid but our determination will not waver. You will acomplish what you set out to do, I can see it."

Frodo smiled as he gazed into the elf's clear eyes. "I did not know that you were gifted with foresight Legolas."

Legolas' hand dropped and he smiled. "The Lady Galadriel is gifted with that knowledge. I am a simple Sindarian elf from Mirkwood."

Frodo snorted softly.

Legolas settled back against the tree. "Now my dear Frodo I wish you to explain a mystery that has been plaguing the palace for that last sixty years. Just how did Bilbo manage to free all those dwarves from my father's dungeons?"

~*~*~*~

Aragorn groaned silently hearing Gimli make another scathing comment about King Thranduil. Ahead of him he saw Legolas stiffen. He could just imagine the elf gritting his teeth. Legolas did not turn around but continued on. Aragorn gave a silent sigh of relief. He wasn't sure how much longer Legolas was going to remain silent.

Gimli had been making biting comments all morning about elves and King Thranduil in general. The conversation last night had opened some old wounds from the dwarf. Gloin's imprisonment at the hands of the elves was held bitterly by his son. The fact that Legolas was there had earned him the dwarf's hostitliy.

Legolas turned back to the party from were he was scouting. "There is a small wash up ahead and no signs of danger. We could make camp."

"How far Legolas?" Gandalf asked.

"About a league."

"Go on ahead then and find a place to set up." The wizard commanded. "Gimli you and the hobbits follow, I would like to speak with Aragorn and Boromir a moment."

~*~*~*~

Legolas entered the wash his sharp eyes scanning the area thoroghly. Satisfied he unstrapped his quiver settling it and his bow against one of the trees. He quickly gathered dead wood and made a small fire. He then sat down waiting for the others to catch up.

Truth be told he wanted a few minutes to collect himself before the dwarf arrived. The dwarf's stinging comments angered Legolas. It was becoming increasingly harder not to retaliate.

Legolas was jerked out of his thoughts as two small shapes hurtled out of the brush knocking into him. He landed on his back looking up into the smiling faces of Merry and Pippin.

Legolas chuckled. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Merry and I decided that since we are not trying to capture you anymore you might get bored." Pippin exclaimed.

"Oh that explains it." The elf nodded in understanding.

Merry grinned mischeviously. "Legolas are you ticklish?"

"No!" Legolas said quickly, to quickly. The hobbits sensing immediate victory began to tickle the elf's sides. Legolas squirmed out from under the hobbits and lept up into the branches of the nearest tree.

"That's not fair Legolas!" Pippin exclaimed.

"Nor is it fair that I am being attacked by two." Legolas answered making himself comfortable on the tree limb.

"But you're twice our size." Merry argued. "So that makes us even."

"What's going on here?" Frodo asked stepping into the camp followed closely by Sam and Gimli.

"Legolas isn't playing fair!" Pippin howled.

"Neither are they." Legolas retaliated.

"Merry, Pippin, let Legolas alone." Frodo adomished his younger cousins as he removed his pack.

Legolas stuck his tongue out at Merry and Pippin.

"Mister Legolas!" Sam replied in chargin.

Legolas laughed before giving a small bow. "Forgive me. I am an only child so I missed out on the banter between siblings."

"You're lucky." Pippin exclaimed. "I have three older sisters."

Merry sided up to Gimli who was holding something curiously in his large hands. "What is it Gimli?"

A necklace lay nestled in the dwarf's palms. Two rings were threaded through it one of a fine silver make and the other a heavy gold. Gimli turned the gold one in his large fingers. A seal was emblazed upon the gold. Anger coursed through the dwarf as he reconized the crest.

"Let me see!" Pippin exclaimed eagerly peering into the dwarf's hand.

"Hey that's elvish isn't it?" Merry asked pointing to the runes on the band.

Pippin nodded enthusiastically. "I've seen this symbol on Legolas' knives."

"Hoy Legolas," called Merry. "Is this your necklace?"

Legolas' hand reached into his inner tunic his eyes widening in alarm. He lept down from the tree approaching the dwarf hesitantly. "The necklace is mine. Give it to me please."

Gimli moved with surprising quickness using the handle of his axe to hit the elf's ankles knocking him off his feet.

Legolas landed hard knocking the air out of his lungs keeping him from crying out against the firey pain in his left ankle. A heavy weight settled over him and the sharp blade of an axe pressed against his throat.

"You are the Prince of Mirkwood!" The dwarf roared as he straddled the fallen elf.

Reacting on instict Legolas grabbed the dwarf's ankles jerking upwards. The dwarf fell back rolling away. Both opponents gained their feet quickly standing to face each other.

"The necklace Dwarf!" Legolas shouted angrily.

The hobbits had froze in shock at the sudden turn of events. Three pairs of eyes swung to Frodo looking for advice.

"Gimli! Legolas! That's enough!" Frodo shouted.

Neither of the assailants looked to him as they slowly circled each other. Gimli's face was a mask of rage his eyes dark coals as he glared at the elf. Legolas' eyes never wavered and it was easy to see the elf was favoring his ankle.

Frodo turned to his cousin. "Pippin find Strider now!"

Pippin nodded wide eyed before running off.

"The necklace!" Legolas demanded again.

"Thranduil's son covets gold like his deceitful father." Gimli taunted.

Legolas' eyes narrowed in anger. "And the children of Aule fight like cowards! I am unarmed dwarf while you carry an axe!"

Gimli let his axe fly. It flew past the elf's head to sink deep into the tree behind the elf. The throw was meant to go wide, partically to free the dwarf's hands and also for a diversionary tactic. It worked.

Legolas twisted out of the way putting his full weight onto his hurt ankle. He was unable to gain his balance fast enough as the dwarf slammed into him sending them both to the ground. Legolas found many of his hits did not seem to affect the dwarf through the heavy armour. A quick blow to Gimli's unprotected face gave Legolas the advantage he needed. He rolled away to regain his feet. Gimli rose slowly his hand moving to touch his split lip. Fire blazed in the dwarf's eyes.



~*~*~*~

Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir slowly were making their way to the camp site. They had been discussing possible routes for the next few days. The lay of the land ahead of them was rocky with ravines scattered about. It would be difficult for the hobbits to traverse. After some debate they had decided on a route. It would be the safest although more difficult travelling adding a day onto their journey.

"I don't hear anything from the camp." Aragorn frowned cocking his head listening.

Boromir stopped listening. "I don't either, usually Merry and Pippin are making some kind of racket."

"Let's not become alarmed yet." Gandalf cautioned. "They are with Gimli and Legolas after all. We would have been signaled if there was danger."

"What are we going to do about those two?" Aragorn questioned.

"Their bickering is becoming exhausting," added Boromir. "It makes for a tense situation. My father would have locked them in a room together to fight it out."

Aragorn arched an eyebrow. "You and your brother fought often then?"

Boromir shook his head quickly. "No. Faramir and I rarely fought." A faint red stained the other man's cheeks for a moment. "Usually when we did it was over a pointless object and Faramir has this annoying habit of usually being right. I would always find myself seeking him out and appologizing later. I am quick to temper but my brother is not."

Aragorn laughed. "That sounds much like my brothers. Elladan and Elrohir are very alike in that way."

"They didn't seem to disagree the time I met them in Rivendell. They seemed of one mind in all that they did."

"Only when they are working at making someone miserable." Aragorn muttered.

Gandalf raised bushy brows. "You have had your share of-"

Pippin broke through the foliage looking very distressed. Seeing them the little hobbit nearly collapsed in relief.

"Pippin?" Boromir questioned. "What-"

Pippin waved his arms. "Quick! Legolas and Gimli are fighting!"

The three men shared looks before racing off to the camp, Pippin following hot on their heels. Bursting into the camp they quickly sized up the situation. Gandalf and Aragorn grabbed Gimli who was closer to them pulling the irate dwarf back. They had their hands full as they tried restraining a very furious Gimli. Boromir rushed forward locking his arms around the elf's slender waist immobilizing Legolas.

Suddenly the hobbits were there dousing all of them with water. Everyone sputtered to a halt in shock. Sam looked pleased. "It works well on dogs."

"What's going on here?!" Gandalf thundered.

Neither the elf nor the dwarf made a move to comment.

Gandalf continued to glare at the two waiting for an answer.

Frodo finally moved to Gimli holding out his hand. The dwarf dropped the chain into the hobbit's hand. Frodo stepped over and placed the necklace into the elf's hand. Legolas' hand fisted and he held the pieces close to his heart.

"Hannon le." Legolas whispered before limping off into the woods.

A mixture of emotions warred on Gimli's face before he turned and stormed the other way.

Gandalf looked to the hobbits. "What happened?"

~*~*~*~

It did not take long for the hobbits to reencount the events leading up to the fight. Everyone was silent a moment pondering the situation. Boromir gestured to the ways the dwarf and elf had disappeared. "Someone should go after them."

"I'll find Legolas." Frodo replied softly.

Aragorn nodded. "I will talk to Gimli." The ranger hesitated a second. "Boromir go with Frodo. I do not know how bad Legolas is injured."

"I am not as skilled a healer as you are." Boromir shrugged helplessly.

"No but you reconize wounds from battle. If it's really threatening come and get me."

Boromir nodded. "Come on little one."

Gandalf looked thoughtful. "Take your time. We will prepare for the night."

~*~*~*~

Gimli had settled himself between three large boulders seeking solace that only the rock could give. A riot of emotions warred within him. Shock. Rage. Fear.

What had possed him to attack the elf like that?

The deepest part of him knew that answer and it scared him.

The Ring.

It had fed on the emotions he held so tightly in check and twisted them beyond reason. It wanted the elf's blood. It wanted all their blood.

Deep down Gimli was afraid.

Gimli didn't need to look up to see the man approaching; he could hear him through the stones. "Aragorn."

~*~*~*~

Boromir and Frodo hurried after the elf. They looked around them in the sparse woods but saw no sign of Legolas' passing.

"Legolas?" Boromir called.

"Legolas?" Frodo called when they recieved no answer. "Legolas please."

"Go away." Legolas' disembodied voice floated down to them.

Frodo looked up scanning the trees, a look of determination on his face. "Not until you come down and talk to us."

They were met with silence.

"Legolas, I have played this game with my brother many of times." Boromir said looking up into the leafy boughs. "You will come down or Frodo and I will make camp right here and wait for you."

Silence.

Boromir scowled. "Frodo help me gather some wood."

Frodo nodded bending down to gather some dead wood from the forest floor.

There was an exhasperated sigh from above them. "Alright! I'm coming down!"

Boromir shared a smile with Frodo. Above them they could see the elf slowly making his way through the branches. Legolas dropped from the lower branch landing in front of them. It was plain to see the elf did not move with his usual grace.

Legolas crossed his arms looking stonily at the two before him. "Yes?"

Boromir looked a little ill at ease. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. I wish to be alone."

Frodo's eyes narrowed at the elf's harsh tone.

Boromir tried again. "The hobbits' said you were injured."

Legolas tilted his head defiantly. "I am well. You can go back to camp."

Frodo deliberately pushed the elf in the side throwing him off balance and onto the injured ankle. Boromir put a steadying hand on the elf's arm righting him. Legolas jerked away putting some distance between them.

Boromir snorted in anger. "It is plain to see you are not. Now sit down and let me look at you."

Legolas looked like he was about to argue some more, but Frodo spoke up. "Legolas do as he says or I will...," here Frodo switched to elvish.

Legolas eyes widened in shock and he gave the hobbit a hard look. "You wouldn't."

"I would."

Legolas settled down on the ground. Boromir gave the hobbit an appraising look. "When this Quest is over I am going to have you teach me elvish."

~*~*~*~

Aragorn looked up at the dwarf in slight surprise. He had not expected the dwarf to notice him. He had underestimated the dwarf's feeling for the stones around him. Gimli had wedged himself in between three boulders as if seeking solace from the stone, and maybe he was.

The dwarf did not look up as Aragorn settled himself beside him. Instead the dwarf's dark eyes were fixed on his work roughened hands. Dried blood stained the reddish beard but the ranger saw no other signs of injury. The man sat and waited.

"I know this is going to sound odd but I had no intention of harming the elf." Gimli spoke quietly.

Aragorn did not reply only remained quietly letting the dwarf say what he needed too.

"I know there in no love between us and if it was not for this Quest we would be enemies. I will not say that I haven't thought of striking him before. I have. His high and mighty elven attitude grates on my nerves."

"I don't want to add to Frodo's burden, his burden is great enough. I do not want to add worry for the others either. The hobbits are suppose to trust us. I do not want them fearing a fight between the ones who are suppose to protect them."

Gimli let out a growl. "Why was I not told who he was? Why was I not told he was Thranduil's heir?"

Aragor sighed as he thought about his long time friend. "Legolas doesn't want to be seen as his father. He didn't wish anyone to know. He also feared a confrontation and wished to avoid a fight for the hobbit's sake. Legolas is not his father nor are you, Gloin."

"It is a bitter thought the elf was more knowing than I." Gimli grumbled unhappily.

"Do not take all the blame on yourself Gimli. We may have avoided this entirely if you had been told earlier. Maybe this could have been avoided if you had known before and had not had such a shock. The rest of us are just as to blame as you."

Gimli hesitated a moment before meeting the man's silver eyes. "I can hear the Ring. It approved of what happened. I can hear it."

Aragorn closed his eyes. "So can I Gimli. So can I."

~*~*~*~

"I don't believe it is broken." Boromir finally announced as his fingers traced the slim ankle.

"Is that your professional opinion." Legolas replied bitterly.

"Quit being a brat." Frodo replied in elvish.

Legolas glared at the hobbit but he was the first to look away.

Boromir looked between them in annoyance. "From now on no more talking in elvish, common only. It's no fair for those of us that don't understand the language."

"Jealous Boromir?" The hobbit asked giggling. Frodo laughed until tears streamed down his face. Unable to resist Boromir and Legolas soon joined in on the hobbit's mirth.

"Hobbits," chuckled Boromir.

Legolas pointed an accusing finger at the warrior. "Men!"

Frodo looked between the two, fighting his giggles. "Excuse me, shouldn't it be Elves?"

"If anyone comes along now they are going to think we're all daft." Boromir observed smiling.

"Let them," answered Frodo. "In the Shire we Bagginses are known for being strange."

Finally Boromir turned to Frodo. "Will you go back to the camp and get a bandage to wrap Legolas' ankle?"

"Sure."

Legolas shook his head. "There is no need. I will be fine. Elves heal quickly."

"Do not argue Master Elf." Boromir replied determinedly. "Better to be safe than sorry."

Frodo nodded, disappearing into the woods. Silence settled between the two for a moment. Boromir fiddled with the ties on his tunic a moment before looking at the elf.

"I understand your need not to be seen as your father." Boromir said slowly. "I also understand that when a valuable gift is taken you will do anything to take it back. When Faramir and I were children we were looked at only for being the Steward's sons. It was easier for me to break away from that image when I became a warrior. I proved my skills on the battlefield. Faramir had a harder time of it. He does not care for the fight as much."

Boromir hesitated but noticing the elf was listening continued. "When my brother was younger, about twelve, one of the men took from him a gift that our mother had given him. I found out about it and was determined to get it back but Faramir said he would get it on his own. He did eventually."

"How?" Legolas asked softly.

The man shook his head. "It was through no fight but through a kindness. Faramir saved the man from a crippling accident. Indebted, he gave Faramir the gift back."

"We are not so different, I think at times." Legolas replied softly. "I wanted to kill the dwarf, Boromir. I wanted to kill him because he took a piece of jewelery. That is what bothers me the most. I rarely loose control of my actions. I shouldn't have let the taunts bother me."

Boromir smiled slightly. "I did not think elves were perfect."

Legolas' lips twitched in a grin. "More so than you humans."

"I'll remember that."

Frodo returned, then trotting over to them, a bandage in his hand. "Here you go Boromir."

"Thank you Frodo." Boromir took the bandage and began to wrap the elf's ankle.

"I'm also supposed to tell you that Sam is almost finished with supper so we're not to be late."

"Well we certainly can't miss that can we?" Legolas laughed.

"Come on Legolas." Boromir replied pulling the elf to his feet. The man put a steadying arm around the elf's waist ignoring Legolas' protests. "Let's not over do it. The less weight you have to put on your ankle the better. And if there is the off chance I am wrong, I am not going to face Aragorn's wrath if I let you walk on a broken ankle."



~*~*~*~

Aragorn rested a hand on Gimli's shoulder. "Come Gimli we should head back to camp."

"I do not know-"

"Gimli." Aragorn stated firmly. "The Fellowship needs you and it needs Legolas. No more nonsense. This will be one night we will wipe clean and start anew."

Gimli nodded and slowly they made their way back to camp.

They entered the wash about the same time that Boromir, Legolas, and Frodo did.

All five stopped, hesitantly looking at each other. The tension in the air was volatile. Gimli stepped forward, and gave a bow to the elf.

Legolas was shocked but he fisted his hand over his heart and dipped his head in return.

The tension in the air evaporated as they settled down. Sam had Pippin handed out plates among them. Soon the hobbits began singing songs from the Shire, encouraging the other to join in. The night eased into it's regular familiarity as they joked with each other.

None gave any special attention to Aragorn as he checked for wounds on both the elf and dwarf.

Aragorn was right in the fact that they were all friends and disagreements were bound to come up. But as friends it was forgotten. The night was started anew.