Title of Fic: The Court Underground

Author: Wargish Boromir Fan (B2WM)

Fandom: LotR

Rating: G

Written for I Can Do Better's OC challenge, but it can fit in with canon and the Wargish AU.

-An original character plays a pronounced/main role in the story. Meet Norin and Orla, the dwarvish answer to Legolusters.
-The character is related to/going to school with/working with/etc. any canon character who is also a main character. Legolas and Gimli's friendship factors highly in their round of working with these two stonemasons, one of which is Gimli's cousin.
-The character is not a Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu. Gods, I hope so.

Dares (1 point each):
-The canon character used is not a common lust-object. Gimli fangirls unite!
-The current popular music of the time is mentioned. Norin whistles it, although the mention is very brief.
Someone disproves/dispels a common bit of fanon for your fandom. The subjects of dwarven and elven beards come up, as does just how much Thranduil drinks.

-Extra points for using a non-human race/species/status in a fandom that has them. Dwarves of LotR

-Maybe an extra point if the OC does not actually "get together" with the canon/a canon. Not even a crush, besides brotherly love between cousins.

I own nada. Thanks to Snarky Loki for pointing out some typos.

"Gimli, my friend, it looks better than ever," Legolas said, marveling at the shining walls of the dwarf's underground home. The refashioning had made the caverns more open, and small lamps hung at regular intervals.

"Better? You have yet to see anything better than the last time you visited," the shorter of the two friends pulled his elven companion along by the arm down a series of winding passages to the largest chamber he had yet seen outside of Moria. "Now, this is better." The redheaded dwarf straightened as they paused at the entrance. Dwarves chipped careful patterns into the walls, and a pair in slings enlarged the natural skylight that filtered sunlight and rainwater into the pool at the center of the cavern.

Legolas stepped slowly into the room, tracing the delicate work about the entrance, reminiscent of woven water lilies, with a long finger. "It's lovely," he said.

Gimli's smile widened. "My cousin did that. Perhaps later you'll be able to compliement the artist face to face. But the reason I brought you down here, Legolas, is that we could use a bit of your high-flown artistic sensibilities for the pool. My cousin wanted to brighten up the place, and I thought I knew just the poncy elf to do it. Any plants you'd recommend for these conditions?" The elf considered a moment, dipping an idle finger into the water. "It's quite clean," his friend assured him.

"Freshwater," Legolas added with a satisfied taste. "It will look better than your feeble imagination could ever come up with," he teased.

"We'll see, elf. But I think we'll put in a walkway here, and leave at least this end of the pond open," the dwarf began to outline his plans for the room. As the blond archer grasped it, his friend hoped to turn the chamber into an underground courtyard, a place where his race might feel the warmth of the sun without leaving their home. It would be wonderful for elven visitors as well, allowing them to adjust to the underground village without invoking the claustrophobia Legolas had suffered from. However, Gimli had become altogether carried away with the subject, and half of his technical terms flew over the elf's head.

"Easy, Gimli. Leave everything to me," he said, placing a restraining hand upon the dwarf's shoulder. "How big will this skylight be when your people finish its construction?"

"Well, the original plans called for roughly twelve ells circular, but I'll have to see if I can ever pull my best masons from their perch. Ho, Norin, Orla! We have a guest!" Gimli called to the workers suspended from the skylight.

"Send the squirrel up here, then! There's a vein of sandstone as red as your beard up here, cousin, and I am loath to abandon it," an annoyed voice drifted back down.

"That is my cousin Orla, whose work on the entryway you admired. Unfortunately, her tongue is not so delicate as her chisel," Gimli explained.

"It seems a common problem in your family," Legolas observed blandly.

"And yours too, or perhaps our kin would get along better." The elf shrugged, agreeing implicitly. "Come now, Orla, I like this one. Hide your teeth, girl."

"Yes, sir." Slowly, the two dwarves lowered themselves from the ceiling, letting their safety ropes slide them down like spiders from a web. The elder whistled a snatch of a popular drinking song, nodding to his lord. At least, Legolas assumed the dwarf was male. He recalled that even with all the time he had spent in Gimli's company, he had never yet been formally introduced to a female dwarf. The other, younger dwarf rubbed self-consciously at her chin, as if to somehow pull the down thereupon into a full beard.

"You need us?" the elder of the two asked.

"Norin, Orla, this is Legolas, the outside expert I hoped to bring to help on this project. If you would be so kind as to fill him in upon the information he requires for his task?" The two dwarves nodded to their lord's request, albeit reservedly, especially in the case of the younger.

She eyed her cousin's companion warily, still tensely stroking her thin beard. "I trust that you can keep yourself sober enough to work, elf?"

Legolas nodded, returning her cool stare. "Whatever would give you the impression that I could not?"

"My father, uncle, and their companions escaped your people's dungeons because your guards had been so kind as to empty enough barrels of wine for all of them to hide in. There were rumors that the Gollum-creature's escape involved a few bottles of Dorwinion as well, and we have all heard the tales of Mirkwood's feast days. Not that I particularly like the thought of my father being trapped in your dungeons, but for the sake your friendship with my cousin, I shall say no more." Gimli gave his friend an apologetic glance, glad that none of them were armed with more than small hammers, though he had seen dwarves wreak serious damage with less.

Legolas, waving away his friend's discomfort, gave the dwarf woman's concerns a shake of his head and a wan smile. "There have been mistakes made, but my father does not tolerate drunkards in his court. What we might do for celebrations is quite different than what goes on during the regular days of the year. I hope, also, that we might start over again with our dwarven neighbors. Mistress Orla, might we tolerate one another's presence for a few weeks in order to complete this project?" the elf extended a slender hand, and reluctant fingers, hardened from chisel-work, grasped his.

"Given a green thumb and a nose that does not become red any time soon, I believe we can."

Legolas's smile brightened. "And you, friend Norin?"

"She's the vicious one. Just give me enough room to do my job and I'll let you do yours." The other dwarf answered with a warmer handshake. These short fingers were nearly as cold as the stone they worked with, but the grip was firm and welcoming.

"Agreed then," Legolas said. "Now, since I've cleared up an issue for you, would you two be willing to answer a riddle of mine?" The elder dwarf nodded, eyes sparking with curiosity, and Orla added her gruff consent after a moment. "How long does it take dwarf women to grow beards?"

"What? Norin, come, we can return when the elf has a serious question. We'll be back at the roof, cousin," Orla spluttered, and then stalked off with her coworker in tow.

"Two hundred years, on average," Gimli spoke up, his smile bright behind his own beard. "Orla's getting quite proud of hers. You mustn't mind her badgering, though. She's been doing that since we were barely big enough to hold a hammer."

"Perhaps I should let her know how long it takes an elf. She'd likely snap her tether, as weighed down with superiority as she'd be." Both friends chuckled.

"I didn't even know elves could grow beards," Gimli shook his head.

Legolas looked up to the skylight as a bird flew over the suspended dwarves. The two workers hung as apparently weightless as the raven above them. "Aye, we can. Someday I'll have to introduce you to Master Ciridan…"