Folie A Deux
Author: Bella (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Short Summary: The journey made by the fellowship was a journey filled with hardship and trial. Constant temptation clouded vigil minds and cut at ties. Yet, where the Ring tries to sow discord, it sets in motion an unlikely friendship. A short Gimli, Legolas character study. Pre-Lorian Friendship.
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Disclaimer: Folie A Deux is a work of fan fiction, written due to the authoress' respect and love for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The setting, mythology, creatures, and history of Middle-earth are borrowed. The plot devices created by the authoress are her creative property. No profit is being made by the writing of this piece of fan fiction.
Special thanks to:
Erewyn: She betaed this story and if you come across some mistake, it's probably because I chose to go against her advice. The title is also her creation. Thank you, Erewyn!
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Night had fallen upon the land.
Through trees and troubles, over earth and threat of doom, company traveled with swift and silent feet. Words were little of significance and seldom shared. The journey had been far from its end yet was all ready littered in its trials, loss and pain and fear and sorrow – Oh, yes. A sorrow so great as to tear through flesh and bone, body and blood to wrestle the strength of soul. The companions were heavy in expectation and the hope of all the good peoples of Middle-earth rested upon their shoulders, whether they be of Elves or Man or Dwarves or a little and curious folk proclaiming themselves Hobbits. No matter the shoulders on which it was borne, the weight was heavy and felt within each of them, ever tied to their very heart and soul.
In the depth of that weight, hopes were made heavy and untouchable. Doubt bred in such a heart, spreading like a plague, darkening all it touched.
Gimli looked sharply to The Elf.
Elves suffered no ailment of the flesh . . .Or so they said.
Yet, Gimli found doubt.
They appeared feeble within his eyes, so like a sapling in the path of a mighty river; they would bend under such pressure and they would break. No sapling was he. Gimli, whose roots were born and wrought deep within the strongest of rock and metal, was not one to bend and would never break. Dwarves were made of hardier things and he laughed at the thought of a sapling singing to the mighty rock of the danger of flood. Yet, flooding and raging waters cut through the sternest and strongest of metal and rock along with the feeble saplings, bearing all away till both were mere visions of what had once been and were torn asunder till naught but earth and pebble remain.
Trees passed by them as towering shadows, cloaks of darkness swathing their skeletal forms. Wind rustled their leaves, giving them voice.
"Weak," they whispered. "Weak."
Gimli detested these trees, detested their leaves, their bark, and that voice. He would take up his ax if he would and bear a mighty stroke upon them, silencing their cries.
Gimli, son of Gloin, was many things . . .but weak was not one of them.
He was a Dwarf, a creature sturdy and true. His people were strong of body, mind, and morals. It would take quite a flood to carve their stone empire. It would take quite a rage. Yet, such threatened upon them, upon his people, upon his back, and within his heart.
If they failed, Middle-earth would fall upon their backs, its people clawing to their lost hope and screaming the songs and tales of what had once been good and right and true. There would be but lost hope drowning in the screams of Middle-earth . . .
"Weak . . ."
Cries of his people despairing in the tale of one dwarf whose strength and virtue they entrusted their lives and their sons' lives upon, who had been found wanting.
If he failed . . .
No, it was best not to think such things. Such thoughts bred doubt in an already wearied heart. Doubt had no place upon this path they journeyed. Doubt was their final foe, placing mortal blow where no blade of mortal or immortal make could find. He would never throw himself down upon a blade of his own make. No, he would fight and he would die clawing into the night, a curse to the treacherous darkness upon his tongue, weakness forgotten and pride and honor preserved.
He was Gimli, son of Gloin, and he would not bend and he would not break. Not to tree, nor shadow, nor raging river, nor all the forces of Mordor.
Doubt spread through him as a darkness upon the light of his soul, a plague of despair. He looked about his company. Now resting they were, entrusting in his eyes and strength as they slept in the last moments of the night.
Not all trusted him.
The Elf had taken no rest, instead choosing to leap from limb to limb within those treacherous trees, like the dark squirrels Gloin had said frequented the depths of Mirkwood. Bright eyes he would spot amongst the night's haze, looking out to him, looking out at him.
"Weak," the trees hissed about him.
A plague within his very soul he sensed, yet this immortal deemed himself too fine of a thing to stoop to the wearies and weaknesses of the mortal. He was of song and trees and the divine, spitting upon the visage of the mother earth and rock and stone. Stunted, he deemed the dwarf and his kind.
Yet, who be the sapling and who be the rock?
When the fires raged across what had once been green and fine, the stone shall be left bare. None would rise and cover its back, shielding it from the spades of The Enemy. Mines, they would make, this he knew. Mines would burrow deep within the earth, pillaging and raping the stone, scorched as it were, rid of its sapling, no company to the fall.
Where would the rock fall?
"Master Dwarf," a fine voice invaded his thoughts.
He grunted, rising his ax.
"A Dwarf would bear arms against a companion, coming unarmed and peacefully as he would?"
Gimli turned to the voice, finding bright eyes looking down upon him. He took several steps back, shuffling his feet and clearing his throat as if callous. He was met with fair face as he looked back again, his ax resting securely upon his shoulder; ever ready to strike down fell beast.
"A Dwarf would do no such thing!" Gimli gruffly objected. "We but not take kindly to the tender footed tricks of the fleeting."
"Mayhap the fault lay not in my stealthy gate yet in your lacking watch," Legolas suggested, a hand outstretched and running along the length of a boulder Gimli had just used as support. His long fingers danced over the rough surface, finding indent and sharp outthrust, his touch almost a caress. With a gust of a breeze, Gimli closed his eyes but a moment, opening them to find that Elf languidly draped over the boulder, his cloak wrapped about him, bright eyes upon the Dwarf. "Something fell must plague you this morn, if barbed words have been stolen from the tip of your tongue."
Gimli intended to grunt a non-committal reply but it came out as no more than a growl.
One Elven brow shaded in night rose at the reply.
"Or mayhap you have only further digressed."
Gimli seized up his ax, ready to charge the sapling. The Elf looked on, a tenseness to his body, eyes sharp and waiting. Gimli's breath was loud within his ears. He wished to fight, to attack, to draw blood. How was he to fight shadow when shadow refused to bleed? Give him flesh, give him bone, and he would break both, spilling forth a flood of blood in glory and honor. He heard his ragged breath . . .and he fell silent.
The trees had lost their voice, no words falling from the tips of their leaves. They were silent and it was maddening.
"Do not tempt me so, Master Elf," Gimli whispered, eyes lost to the towering outline of trees. "Not now, in such company and with so heavy a heart."
When his eyes once again fell, he found the curious gaze of the Elf upon him. Where their bright depths had once spoke to him of spitefulness and venom, they now were soft and concerned; eyes of a companion ere those of the shadow.
"It speaks to you, as well," Legolas said, voice lilting hardly more than a gentle breeze, as if afraid –afraid! - that his words would bring some further darkness upon them.
"No!" Gimli objected gruffly. "No! I hear nothing! Nothing!"
"You object so forcefully and sure for one who hears all but naught, Master Dwarf," Legolas intoned, the tenseness easing about him, yet he pulled the cloak tighter about his form.
Gimli merely grunted, rising his chin defiantly.
Legolas looked to him sidelong, now with eyes speaking again of distrust, a calculating gaze.
Both stood in opposition, Legolas upon stone, Gimli sturdy upon earth. Both in silence.
Where was the dawn?
Gimli felt panic grow within him. He was not a creature reliant upon the warm and beating rays of the sun, but fell things would be afoot that could cloud such a rising, fell things of great power. Such a thing, such a power, he could never hope to slay. He could never hope to rival and master a lord so great as to smother Middle-earth in his shadow.
He could never hope.
"Weak . . ." the trees began to whisper again from nigh where The Elf now sat.
Gimli's eyes widened and looked up to that infuriating Elf, who was looking back to him just as wide-eyed.
"As well," Gimli grumbled out the words before he could stop himself. He cleared his throat. "You said, "As well." What mean you?"
Legolas' bright eyes bore into the Dwarf yet he refused to cower as a child. He was the stone and he would not bend nor break before the sapling.
"What mean I? What else could I mean by such words?" Legolas asked. "Do you not hear them, Master Dwarf?"
"The voices?" Gimli dared say.
"Yes," Legolas said, "The voices. They speak not only to you. For some time, they have haunted me, whispering, planting doubt in my heart."
Gimli looked to The Elf, unbelieving of what he was told. A voice within him warned that this be some Elven trick, that his weakness had been found out and this was the Elf's blow. Yet, for hope he thought perhaps this madness not his own.
For hope, he began to trust.
"The voices in the trees?"
Legolas shook his fair head. "No. I hear them not in the trees. I hear them upon the wind, the breeze brought to me by Dol Guldur, bidding me back home. I hear screams in my reverie, my brothers and father bidding me to their aid as they fall to a power too great. Nay, I hear no fell voices from the trees, yet I do not doubt them be the same as the voices you hear, if they taunt and madden you as well as I. Aye, as well!"
"What fell craft is this?" Gimli asked, a question more of the soul than of a companion. He looked up to Legolas, finally wishing for answer, but was met with gaze as such. Legolas' bright eyes moved sidelong and back to him.
Gimli followed the path Legolas' gaze had followed and found but the slumbering forms of his company. Two Men lay against the trees, swords unsheathed, making not a sound. And beside them lay three hobbits, huddled together against the cool air and biting breeze.
Gimli's gaze sought out a fourth, bent form, just within hobbit reach from the pack, curled within the weight of his cloak. He gently rocked, the fabric stretched across his form. The hobbit's feet worried the air about them, as if anxious for a run.
Gently the hobbit rocked on, mumbled words slurred out from his restless slumber. Such mumblings were not his haunting voices. Then, Gimli's eye caught upon the flicker of gold between the hobbit's pudgy fingers. Swiftly, the gold was hidden away, as if attempting to escape during its keeper's sleep, yet was wrestled back in the end. A hand reached out to the hobbit and Gimli drew up his ax, hearing the gentle ring of an Elven sword being drawn alongside him. Yet, the hand only grabbed upon the Hobbit's cloak and pulled him back to the huddle of his kin, wrapping his cloak about the rocking form.
Gimli eased back his ax and heard as the sword was again sheathed to his side. He looked sidelong to The Elf beside him, finding eyes bright looking back, no longer speaking of spite or distrust, but of fear and doubt. A reflection of his self.
"A craft direly in need of unmake," Gimli answered his own question, daring not to look back, in fear and desire of another glimpse, another flicker. "What say you, Master Elf?"
"Never would I have thought the day to come where I would hear such wisdom by the tongue of a Dwarf. Yet, you speak verily, Master Dwarf. Indeed, it is a craft direly in need of unmake."
The voices dared not speak, yet their silence was far from maddening for he knew this Elf to suffer the same. He, the mighty rock, had this sapling – Nay, this great Elm! – to hold upon and would not be swept away alone. And, if the need be, this great Elm had this mighty rock's leave to hold upon him. The Elf was not so divine as to be left untouched by malady of the soul. Gimli was not so cold as stone, to be unmoved in the tides as horrors washed upon him. Both were cased in shadow, fear, and doubt. Both fighting a bloodless evil, without flesh or bone to break. And both were not alone in their fight against the tide of madness and shadow.
"Yet, have we the strength?" Legolas asked, a weariness and vulnerability in his tone. Gimli looked to him without answer, despair and doubt a plague shared but felt all the more within them.
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Also see my other LOTR work: Pilfered Hearts and Plundered Dreams