Gimli returned to the border, where he had left Malenfín to be sure that the Elven-King was in a benevolent mood. He found the Elf seated beneath a tree, humming softly to himself and staring curiously up into the branches at a squirrel, who was staring curiously back.
Malenfín heard the barely audible tramp of Gimli's boots upon the soft earth, and rose quickly to his feet. "Master Dwarf! You have returned! How fares my grandfather?" His brow furrowed as he warily asked the most nagging question. "Did you two reconcile?"
Gimli smiled. "Aye. It was difficult territory, but we have come to an agreement that your father wanted us to be at least civil, and we both know that we'd do anything for Legolas. So we have a truce."
"Good!" Malenfín beamed. "I am glad to hear it." Then, after a moment, he requested, "May I go to my father now?"
"I thought you would wish to see your grandfather first," the Dwarf replied, puzzled. "He might not wish for you to enter the forest without introduction."
"I would like to see my father first, if you don't mind. I am as much an Elf of this realm as any, regardless of whether I have visited before or not. I do not need to procure the permission of the King to go to the grave of my father, Master Dwarf." Malenfín's voice was firm, but gentle. Obviously, Thranduil's temper was not hereditary. "I will see my father first."
"Of course," Gimli answered quickly. "I meant no insult."
The Elf nodded, placated. "Then shall we go?"
The Dwarf nodded too. "Follow me," he told Malenfín, walking in the direction from which he had come.
He was a bit annoyed to realize that the Elven wardens did not leap from the trees and aim their weapons at Malenfín, although he might have expected they would think nothing of his presence in their wood. He looked exactly as they did; for all they knew, he was another in service to King Thranduil, returning from a trade mission or hunting escapade.
It was just as well, Gimli knew, for he did not feel like having his well-being placed in direct threat again.
When they reached the clearing, Malenfín stopped, closing his eyes for a moment as if bracing himself.
"Take your time," Gimli advised softly. "I know this will be difficult."
The Elf managed a weak, but grateful, grin. "I will be fine. I have dreamed of this for so long. I have always wanted to meet my father, for I was a babe when last he saw me. It just is a shame that I have fulfilled my wish too late."
"Your father can hear you as clearly as if he were right before you, Malenfín. Trust me. I swear he heard every word I said to him."
"Thank you, Gimli. I will return," he responded, then straightened his posture respectfully and approached the middle of the clearing while the Dwarf looked on in silence.
Malenfín knelt at the grave of his sire, his tears flowing freely as he bent further and placed his forehead upon the cool marker. "Father," he breathed. "At last, we meet again."
The young Elf lapsed into his native tongue, sounding excited. He'd certainly accumulated a lot to tell his father over the centuries before this day.
Gimli smiled, but did not utter a word. He was afraid to break the magic of the long-awaited reunion.
Suddenly, a voice arose from the silence, startling them both. "Greetings, child of Gloin, and child of my child."
Gimli hardly had time to register his shock as the Elven-King approached. He was, of course, every inch the picture of calmness and solemnity. Then the emotions flooded. Thranduil's green eyes were misty with tears as he opened his arms wide, beckoning his grandson to him. Needing no further encouragement, Malenfín rushed into them, sobbing out a single word that absolutely tugged at the stoic Elf-lord's heart.
For his part, the Dwarf was shaking in frustration at his lack of comprehension of the circumstances. Thranduil knew!
"How did you...when did...who told...how did...how did you know?!" Gimli stammered, his voice raising an octave in surprise.
The Elven-King shrugged his proud shoulders, then looked to his grandson. "Malenfín, will you translate for our Dwarven friend the Sindarin inscription on your father's marker?"
"Yes, Grandfather." Malenfín was absolutely stunned as his eyes skimmed over the runes. His blue eyes were enormous as they met Gimli's, who for his part just looked anxious.
"It reads: 'Legolas, Prince of Eryn Lasgalen, of the Nine Walkers, hero of the War of the Ring, beloved son and..." He took a deep breath, and appeared to be trembling all over as he finished, "...Father."
There was a moment of shocked silence as the meaning sank in.
"He knew," Gimli murmured in amazement, gaping at Malenfín, who in turn was still gaping at the marker. Then he pivoted on his heel, staring up at Thranduil, whose lips were curved in an infuriatingly smug smile. "Do you blasted Elves know everything?!"
There was a tense moment as the Dwarf realized how the King might react to such an offensive outburst, and Thranduil looked at him sternly for an uncomfortably long period of time, then erupted into laughter, which surprised the other two into laughing as well.
When the mirthful moment had passed, the King of Greenwood and the Lord of Aglarond both retreated to give the young Elf his privacy.
Gimli cleared his throat, clasping his hands together in front of him. Finally, with no lack of timidness, he spoke. "There were many reasons for my visit to your great forest, King Thranduil. I wanted to fulfill my promise to your son and to pay my respects to my fallen friend, and to allow his son to do the same, but ultimately, I came here to tell Legolas what I am about to tell you now."
He paused, but not as much for dramatic effect as for collecting himself. Thranduil merely raised an eyebrow.
"You raised a fine son," he declared softly, and was absolutely astounded when the King of the Greenwood Elves swept him into a fierce hug.
In the words of Porky Pig, "That's all, folks!"
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
It has taken me over two years to complete this work of fanfiction, and I appreciate those who have followed along the entire time, keeping up with the progress even when the going was slow.
For those of you who believe this would never have happened in the universe Tolkien created, I understand and wish to acknowledge the truth to that argument. I realize that Valor Without Renown was extremely out of canon for the work of Tolkien, but that was the idea. I know that in Tolkien's world, Elves would never have pre-marital sex, but then again, in his world, Elves were perfect, and in mine, they are not. They make mistakes too, but it does not make anyone love them any less. It was a way to humanize the ethereal, if you will. I wanted to explore a new angle, and I thank you for bearing with me.
First, I'd like to thank my readers, especially those who reviewed along the way. Your feedback has been extremely instrumental in shaping the development and overall outcome of this tale.
Thank you to J.R.R. Tolkien, the greatest author of all time in my opinion and the opinion of millions like me. His books have inspired me more than I could even dream of expressing, and I hope that I did them justice.
I give credit also to Peter Jackson and the cast of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, for bringing the wonderful tales to life and giving me a better idea and image of the characters I wished to write about.
Last but certainly not least, I wish to thank Raev, my lovely
beta-reader, who is first and foremost my best friend. Her endless
wisdom (and endless patience to boot) has never failed to amaze me.
Without her, this story would never have become a reality.