* * * * *
"Frodo?" replied Legolas. He was surprised but pleased; it was unusual for the Hobbits to seek him out. They tended to prefer the company of the Wizard or the Men. Legolas himself considered it unseemly to put himself forward when he obviously made them uncomfortable, and so contented himself with keeping watch over them from a distance. This one was Frodo, easy to tell from the others because of his greater age and a certain air of intelligence he carried. Poor, poor, Frodo, Legolas thought. He felt very sorry for the sweet little fellow who carried such a burden, and gave him another pitying look. "What may I do for you?"
Frodo swallowed hard. Legolas had such a sad look on his strange face, Frodo was sure his feelings must be crushed. "Legolas… I, that is, we…uh… Legolas, I'm so sorry!" he blurted out at last.
The elf cocked his head, confused. "Whatever for, Frodo?"
The Hobbit was miserable. The expression of confusion on the elf's face made him look even less intelligent – it wasn't making this easy! "I'm sorry we've spoken so meanly about you, Legolas! We didn't intend to be cruel, we just didn't think! We know you can't help it, and actually, we like you! We like you a lot!" Frodo hurriedly spoke, stumbling over his words.
"Cruel?" Legolas' confusion deepened. "Whatever are you talking about?"
Now that he had finally gotten that off his chest, Frodo's words came easier, and he was anxious to comfort the elf, who he was sure must have been wounded by their unkind words about his obvious repulsiveness. Frodo patted the long, thin hand of the elf reassuringly.
"Please don't be upset, Legolas. We know it's not your fault that you are so…well… Well, the important thing is, you've got a good heart! Nothing else matters and I hope we shall all be friends! We don't really care that you are so…well…"
"Please!" Frodo cut him off. "Please, don't be too hard on yourself. You really are not all that unattractive," the Hobbit reassured him hastily, mistaking the elf's dumbfounded look for something else. "In fact, your features really are not all that bad. It's just that you are so…so tall! And you are so thin, it makes you look really elongated, unwieldy really, and – oh, how uncomfortable that must be, you poor thing! But really, it's not such a terrible thing to be so gangly. I'm sure your stature has many advantages! Such as… erm…" For the life of him, Frodo couldn't think of anything nice to say about being so unnaturally tall.
"And the other things, well, they're not all that bad!" Pippin piped up from behind Frodo, trying to support him. "It's not so terrible you must bathe so often! I'm sure it helps keep that woodsy smell you have under control!"
"And your eating habits aren't all that grotesque," Sam said helpfully. "After all, anyone who picks at his food the way you do, just leaves more for the rest of us! Am I right?" He looked to his fellow Hobbits for confirmation.
"And there's nothing really wrong with your hair," said Merry warmly, also fearing he'd offended the elf. "I mean, Men don't have enough hair on their feet, either. And if everyone had curly hair, well, it wouldn't seem so special, would it?" He grinned broadly at the excellent point he'd thought up right on the spot, though he pitied the poor elf for his lank and lifeless locks.
"That's right," said Frodo. "True companions stand by one another, regardless of what they are or what they look like. We know you cannot help the way you are, but inside it all you are a good person and we wish to be friends. Please do not take to heart our unkind words earlier."
Legolas was, to put it mildly, shocked speechless. They thought him ugly, and were trying to tell him it didn't matter? Had they any idea how patronizing, how condescending they sounded!? He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. It wasn't really their fault, he reminded himself. They were just poor simple country folk who didn't know any better.
"My gentle Hobbits," spoke the elf a little frostily, "be assured I am not upset with you. I appreciate your willingness to generously overlook my…faults. I am happy to consider us friends." He smiled warmly, though it took a great deal of effort. He was startled and a little hurt to discover that the Hobbits had held his un-Hobbitness against him. It was an alien notion to his way of thinking. Legolas for his part had adored the sweet little simple-minded folk, and he loved them because of their differences, not despite them.
The Hobbits bowed politely to him and made their way back to their sleeping space to settle in for the day's rest. Legolas shifted slightly when another companion made his way over and sat beside the elf. "Amusing creatures, aren't they?" said the dwarf in his deep, melodious voice.
The elf snorted. "But their hearts are good…even if their eyesight is a little poor!" He shook his head. "Do others really find me that ugly?" he asked Gimli, looking sideways at the dwarf and arching a thin eyebrow.
Gimli stroked his full, luxurious beard as he answered. "Not ugly, really. Just different. You must admit, it takes a little getting used to." He shrugged his muscular shoulders. Personally, he found the elf's stringy frame and wiry stature quite hideous, though he would never say such an unkind thing aloud. Despite his flighty ways and sometimes arrogant manners, the flimsy-looking elf did have a good heart underneath it all, and that was what mattered.
* * * * *
Yep, everyone in this short fic has kind of condescending attitudes towards each other. Hence the OOC warnings. If you still feel inclined to rant, your flames shall be given to Fëanor, who is kindly forging me a flame-thrower.
Sorry to the fans of the Men and the Wizard that I didn't bring them in as well.
This fic came about because I was so tired of reading Gimli/Legolas fics (which I love!) where the poor dwarf is fawning over Legolas' 'beauty' while thinking of himself as ugly!
It was inspired by the fabulous and clever Theresa Green, one of the most brilliant authors around, and a quote from her bio, here reproduced with her permission:
"I was once asked by a reviewer whether I thought of Gimli and Legolas slash as a kind of 'beauty and the beast' phenomenon. I felt like replying that it was grossly unfair to call Legolas a beast – he can't help the way he looks!"