Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Rings, no, of course not. (hurriedly puts away a Legolas figure)
Summary: As the fellowship scale Caradhras, a certain ranger thinks it unfair that elves can walk on snow.
Hi all! This plot bunny just struck me one day (really hard too) and refused to leave me alone until I had put it on paper, or on computer screen, whatever. Enjoy!
Of Men, Elves and Snowballs
A lone bird soared over the jagged peaks of the Misty Mountains, its cry echoing over the vast distances far below. As the dark shadow of Caradhras rose high in front of it, the bird climbed on invisible currents of air until it had risen far above the great mountain. From its great height, it saw scattered outcrops of a greying rock standing harshly against white slopes, yet rather than marring the mountain's frozen elegance, they added to it, the very imperfection of the scene highlighting its crystal beauty. As the bird looked down, it saw nine ink-dot figures making their way slowly up the side of the mountain. For a brief moment it puzzled over the sight of other creatures in this place where so few travellers dared trespass. Yet the bird quickly dismissed the figures from its mind and continued the journey into the newly risen sun, leaving the nine companions to struggle alone through the deep snow which hampered their path.
Legolas reached up to brush the snow off of his shoulder, muttering a few choice curses as he did so. This latest projectile had only missed his quiver by a bare inch, and he was determined that if even a single flake so much as touched his newly fletched arrows, he would be only to happy to remove the throwing arm of the one responsible.
Legolas whipped round to face the direction from which the offending snowball had come, sharp eyes seeking the perpetrator, whether it be Man, Hobbit, Dwarf or Istari. However, none of his companions were looking his way, each seemingly set upon the arduous task of ascending the heights of Caradhras. As an icy trickle of melting snow crawled its way down his back, Legolas' gaze travelled slowly over the eight figures, both short and tall, searching for any indication of guilt.
Gandalf was just behind him, near the front of the party, his heavy robe gathered close about him in an effort to retain as much warmth as possible on this brilliantly cold morning. Head bent against the biting winds which tore over the mountain, his left hand clutched the brim of his hat, keeping it firm on his head. With his other hand he used his wizard's staff to break a path through the snow for the rest of the fellowship. Yet, unless he had employed some of his strange brand of magic, with both hands occupied, Legolas doubted that he could possibly have been responsible for the snowballs.
Boromir followed the wizard, round shield slung over his shoulder as he forged his own path through the snow. Legolas had come to like the man from Gondor. Although the friendship between the two had been tentative at first, it had deepened swiftly, largely due to the fondness the man displayed towards the hobbits, something which had quickly earned both the elf's friendship and respect. Boromir often offered to train the four hobbits in swordplay, teaching them skills which Legolas knew he hoped for them never to have to use. He decided that the Man was not responsible for the freezing water now at the small of his back, for the man's thoughts seemed directed elsewhere as he marched onwards, occasional glancing towards the rear of the party.
Boromir was trailed by the two young hobbits, Merry and Pippin. Usually, they would be only too eager to engage in a snowfall fight. Indeed, Legolas had been surprised to find that all four hobbits had a strong arm and a good aim. At that moment however, they seemed to be engaged in one of their many squabbles, most of which seemed to concern food.
Behind the two hobbit cousins marched the dwarf. Legolas frowned. He did not know the dwarf very well as yet, nor did he have any desire to improve upon the situation in the future. What words the two had exchanged had been insults. As he considered the matter however, Legolas decided that the dwarf was not responsible. Whilst the son of Gloin would not hesitate to engage in any activity which would anger him, if he was to hurl anything in the elf's direction, it was far more likely to be one of his axes.
Legolas' frown deepened as his gaze shifted to the next member of the small party. The ringbearer looked pale and worn, more so than the other hobbits. But then, thought the elf, that was hardly surprising. Whilst Frodo had shown that he was not above causing a bit of mischief, particularly between the other hobbits, as the journey had worn on he had drawn closer in on himself, even going so far as to refuse even Sam's company at times. No, Frodo did not look as though he could spare the energy to snowball an innocent elf, even if he had wanted to.
Sam, leading Bill, followed close behind Frodo, and Legolas found a smile replacing the frown on his face as he considered the hobbit gardener. It was a rare occasion when Sam left Frodo's side, and if he did, it was always for as short a time as possible. The gardener had also taken on full care of the pack pony. Between Frodo and Bill, Legolas was surprised that the hobbit had anytime to see to his own needs. He was sure that Sam would never dare to snowball him. Even now, having spent weeks in close company with one of the firstborn, the hobbit remained slightly nervous about approaching him. However, Legolas had shared many a conversation with the gentle, yet fiercely protective, hobbit and he hoped that these last traces of nervousness would quickly disappear.
Last came the ranger. Legolas' blue eyes narrowed suspiciously as he watched the heir to the throne of Gondor, who was studying his feet intently as they trudged a path through the deep snow. The Man would certainly not hesitate to engage in a bit of mischief if there were no sign of danger, particularly if said mischief concerned his closest friend. Occasionally Aragorn glanced up, looking over the small company to assure himself of the fellowship's safety. However, thought Legolas, it was far more likely that he did so in order to observe the effect his little game was having.
Slowly, Legolas turned back around and continued to make his way light-footed over the white carpet beneath him. He walked in peace for some minutes and began to relax, as the ranger had apparently found better uses for his time.
The shout from the usually composed prince of Mirkwood halted the fellowship in their steps and each of them looked around, fearing that the elf's sharp eyes had found some danger invisible to those of mortals. Yet Legolas did not seem concerned for the safety of the company. Rather, he was making a beeline over the snow towards the ranger, a furious look upon his face. Aragorn, however, stood his ground as he watched the elf approach, a satisfied glint in his silver-grey eyes.
Arriving by the ranger's side, Legolas reached forward and grasped a handful of the man's clothes, jerking his friend towards him until they were face to face. His voice had lowered to a lethal tone. "By the Valar, Aragorn," he hissed, "if you do that one more time-"
"Do what, mellon nin?" the ranger asked innocently. At his side, his right hand unobtrusively released the ball of compressed snow held within its grasp.
"You are well aware of what I speak, mellon nin," the elf replied, his latter words laced with sarcasm. "And know this, Human, if such a thing occurs again, I swear upon the light of Earendil itself that there will soon be an arrow embedded in the one responsible!" Having finished his vehement avowal, the elf shoved the man away from him, the force of the push causing the ranger to stagger back a few steps, and stalked back to his place at the head of the company, muttering to himself about the immaturity of the Second-born.
Frodo caught Sam's eye and they exchanged grins, happily recognising another of the disputes which erupted frequently between the two friends. Each seemed to enjoy baiting the other, and, when and only when assured of the fellowship's safety, their time was frequently spent goading, provoking and generally annoying the other. As the fellowship resumed its journey up the mountain, Frodo kept a close eye on both elf and ranger, feeling sure that there was more to come. After some minutes he saw Strider cast a fleeting glance at the elf, then bend down only to swiftly straighten again with his right hand clenched tightly by his side. He nudged Sam, alerting him to the ranger's actions, and the two waited eagerly for whatever would happen next.
In the blink of an eye, Legolas whirled round, drew an arrow and fitted it to his bow, all in one swift motion. Yet before he could carry out his threat however, the puzzled voice of Merry rang out over the snow-covered slopes.
"What are you doing, Pippin?"
The other members of the party, man and elf included, turned to look at the youngest member of their fellowship. Pippin had his arms stretched wide to help keep himself upright as he stuck one foot out, holding it so that it rested gingerly on the surface of the snow, before he carefully lowered it onto the white carpet, where it immediately sank with a loud crunch. Abruptly realising that he had an audience, Pippin quickly lowered his arms, trying, but failing, to look innocent.
"Nothing," he answered quickly. "I wasn't doing anything," he added defensively, glaring at Merry, who was looking at his cousin perplexedly, dark eyebrows furrowed beneath his curling hair.
"Yes you were," Merry replied, determined to discover what his cousin had been up to. "What were you trying to do?"
The hobbit in question looked around. His companions had all come to a halt by this time, enjoying the rest from the exacting climb and clearly quite prepared to wait where they were until the issue had been resolved. Legolas had lowered his bow, much to a certain ranger's relief, and stood watching the cousins bemusedly. A blush crept up Pippin's cheeks and he gestured abruptly to the Mirkwood elf.
"I was just trying to do what he was doing," Pippin muttered, and the company's eyes all swung towards the archer, who looked mystified at the hobbit's words.
"I did not realise I was doing anything, myself," said Legolas with a light shrug of his shoulders, faintly uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the entire fellowship.
Merry stared at his friend, then back at the elf, inspecting each of them carefully. Suddenly, a grin formed on his face and he smirked at his cousin gleefully. "I know what you were doing," he stated, and his grin widened. "You were trying to walk on snow, like Legolas does!"
The fellowship, minus an embarrassed hobbit, turned to look at the blonde archer, who was indeed standing on top of the fragile snow, his lightly booted feet having left barely an imprint of a trail behind him. Gandalf shook his head and turned back to his path, muttering about foolish hobbits, and Aragorn and Boromir exchanged grins, although the latter's forehead had creased slightly as he looked at the prince of Mirkwood. Gimli, who always seemed to enjoy the antics of the only members of the fellowship shorter than he, was chuckling quietly to himself.
Sam stared wide-eyed at this new example of the magic of the elves. "How is it that you can do that, Mister Legolas?" he ventured to ask. "Walk on snow, I mean."
The elf shrugged. "It is something which all of the firstborn are able to do," he replied easily, but to Sam's disappointment, he delved no deeper into the matter.
Gimli, who had been unusually silent until then, snorted into his beard, muttering something under his breath and Legolas swung around swiftly to face the blockier being.
"I beg your pardon, Master Dwarf?" he questioned dangerously.
"I said, Master Elf, that such a talent must be of great worth when hoarding treasure in the caves of that dark wood you call home."
Legolas' eyes hardened as he glared at the dwarf icily. "It is no wonder that your race is unable to accomplish such a feat as walking on snow with all the metal you insist on wearing upon your heads," he shot back.
"The dwarves wear these helmets because our heads have something in them which is worth protecting!" retorted the dwarf, bristling angrily.
"Gentlemen, please. We must be moving on." Aragorn broke into the debate, unwilling to allow the dispute to develop into a full-blown war, as was so often the case when the two argued.
Legolas looked up at Aragorn innocently. "My apologies, Estel, it was not my intent to hold up the fellowship. I simply wished to point out that some, inferior, races, the Dwarves for example, are too much like the rock they are so obsessed with, to be able to do that which the Elves accomplish with ease."
Before the dwarf had a chance to retort, the elf turned and walked swiftly away over the snow, again leaving no trace that he had passed.
Sam, still puzzled, looked to the ranger, who had proven to be a great source of knowledge about the ways of the fair race amongst whom he had been raised. "Strider? Do you know?"
The man shook his head regretfully. "Nay, Sam, I do not. Elves are nimble creatures, they weigh very little, and are part of Middle-Earth as Men could never be. Yet I cannot tell you any more than that of this particular mystery of the firstborn, for I do not know the answer myself." Shrugging his pack into a better position upon his back, the ranger began to work his way up the mountain once more, clapping a snow-covered palm on the disappointed gardener's shoulder as he passed.
As the group continued on their way, Legolas saw that Pippin's cheeks were still flushed a bright red and he moved to the hobbit's side. "Do not be discomfited," said the elf gently. "You are not the first to try to imitate the ways of the elves." His next words were raised for all of the fellowship to hear. "Indeed, there are others in this very company who have tried to walk on snow. Isn't that so, Aragorn?"
"Aye," replied the ranger, but did not say anything more.
The smile upon Legolas' face became mischievous at the man's abrupt answer and he called out merrily to the rest of the fellowship. "Even our ranger here has been known to attempt such a thing!" This revelation had the desired effect of distracting Pippin, who glanced over at the ranger curiously.
"You tried to walk on snow too, Strider?" he asked, feeling slightly less embarrassed as he pictured the grim long-legged man attempting to tiptoe across a snowy field. The rest of the fellowship was looking at the ranger too, Boromir with a broad smile on his face.
The ranger glared over at the smiling elf before turning resignedly to the young hobbit. "Yes, Pippin, I did, and it is something which the elf here" -he aimed a cuff at the back of the elf's head- "will never let me forget, I am sure."
"You must admit, Aragorn, it was rather humorous," commented Legolas.
"I was only a child at the time!" the ranger protested, and then frowned, remembering. "It also did not help that my kind and trustworthy brothers told me that it was only a matter of practice."
His elven friend dissolved into peals of laughter, which halted abruptly as yet another clod of snow pelted into the back of his head, coating his blonde hair with clumps of white ice.
"Must you do that?" Legolas asked resignedly, nimble fingers seeking to brush the snow off, and the ranger nodded happily.
"I thought it only fair."
The elf's eyebrows rose at this seemingly absurd statement. "You believe it fair to constantly throw snowballs at me, your closest, oldest and most loyal friend?" he inquired disbelievingly.
Again the ranger nodded. "Aye, I do believe it so. You find it so easy to traverse this mountain compared to us mortals-"
"Indeed?" said the elf, eyebrows raised even higher. Sam noticed that he had an arrow notched and was stroking it's fletching repeatedly.
"Indeed," replied the ranger. "You are able to walk over the snow, thus you do not have to force your way through it, nor you do not feel the cold as we do."
"I still see no reason to throw snowballs at me," muttered the elf.
"I merely thought that you should be made to experience some of the discomfits which we are subject to," said the ranger nonchalantly.
Legolas made a show of looking around at the other members of the fellowship. "I see no one else being bombarded with snowballs," he said.
"Then clearly you are not observant enough," replied the ranger, and, before the elf could say another word, he launched another snowball, yet this one was not aimed at Legolas. Instead, it impacted solidly with the back of a certain dwarf's head.
The prince of Mirkwood stared at said dwarf's helmet, which had protected him from the worst of the impact. "It seems that those things are of some use after all," he remarked to himself, but suddenly found himself confronted with an outraged dwarf.
"You…you…ELF!" Gimli roared. "What was that for?"
The elf looked rather affronted at this accusation. "You are mistaken, Master Gimli," he protested, hands raised before him in offended innocence. "It was not I who threw that snowball."
It was the dwarf's turn to look disbelieving. "And I suppose that snowball just hit me of its own accord then," he demanded angrily, trying in vain to reach around to the back of his head to brush away the snow gathered there.
"Do not be a fool," replied the elf coldly, "however much it becomes you. Aragorn is the one responsible for the snow which now covers you."
Gimli turned to look at the ranger, who had by this time started back up the mountain and looked up innocently at the sound of one of his many names. Gimli turned back to the elf.
"Aragorn!" he barked. "Aragorn! What reason would he have to hurl a snowball at me?"
"Many come to mind, but it is best that you ask him that yourself," Legolas replied coolly, and turned to continue on his way, but the dwarf, clutching one of his axes, moved to bar the elf's path.
"Oh no, you don't!" he bellowed. "I'm not letting you get away that easily. It's just like an elf, trying to avoid the consequences of your actions. Well, this is one dwarf who won't allow it!"
Legolas drew his knives, blue eyes fixed on his opponent.
Sam, petrified that the two were about to attack one another, stumbled through the deep snow until he had reached Strider, who was watching the action from a little further up the slope, an amused look on his face.
"Mr Strider, sir," he gasped. "Aren't you going to do something?"
The ranger looked down at Sam with a smirk. "I thought I would let them fight this one out for themselves," he replied. "For you know what happened last time I intervened." (1)
"Strider!" Sam was appalled at this casual dismissal of what to him seemed a serious problem. "Worry not, Sam," the ranger reassured him, "I am sure that they will not seriously harm one other."
"Are you certain of that?" a voice asked, and both Man and hobbit turned to see that Boromir had joined them unnoticed, and was also watching the two figures who were now circling each other; the dwarf stumbling occasionally as he tripped in the deep snow, the elf walking as lightly as ever on top of it. "This seems more serious than their usual disputes."
By this time another member of the fellowship had joined their small group.
"What is happening here," Gandalf grumbled, pulling his robe closer around him. "What are those two fools doing?"
"Strider threw a snowball at Gimli, and Gimli thought Legolas did it, so he attacked Legolas even though it was really Strider who had thrown the snowball," piped up Pippin, who had also joined the ever-increasing group.
The wizard's bushy eyebrows drew close together as he worked through the hobbit's garbled speech, then he turned to the ranger who was releasing a regretful sigh, knowing that he had been found out. "Really, Aragorn," the wizard grumbled, "I thought better of you than to encourage those two." But the corners of his mouth twitched as he continued to watch both elf and dwarf, who were now standing face to chest still trading verbal blows, but he too made no move to separate them. The four hobbits stared at one another, amazed that neither of the Men, nor the wizard, was intervening in what seemed about to develop into a fight to the death.
Frodo turned to the ranger and looked up at him, brown curls flapping wildly in the racing wind. "Strider, Legolas may really get injured," he said appealingly, but the Man shook his head.
"Nay, he can look after himself. If he can survive my brothers, he can survive Gimli."
"Please," Frodo beseeched, and Aragorn, looking down into the hobbit's big, morning-blue eyes, sighed heavily.
"Very well," he muttered reluctantly, and proceeded to make his way with slow steps to where the two opponents were standing with weapons raised.
"Legolas, Gimli, leave it be," he said firmly as he moved in-between them. "It is not worth this, no matter who threw the snowball."
"It was you, Aragorn!" Legolas declared angrily. "And I will not leave this fight until the Dwarf admits it!"
"I will never!" roared Gimli. "This elf threw a snowball at me and I mean to have the retribution I deserve!"
"Gentlemen-" the ranger began again, but was forced to shift hurriedly out of the way as two blades met with a glint of steel as dark shadows danced over the crystal snow.
Rolling his eyes, Aragorn returned to the rest of the fellowship. "Well, I tried," he said calmly, and, with a shrug of his shoulders, he settled down to watch. The hobbits and Boromir stared at him.
"Oh, for goodness sake," grumped Gandalf. Swiftly making his way across the snow to the two combatants, he pushed himself firmly between them with his staff raised angrily. "Stop that," he said loudly, aiming a blow at the prince of Mirkwood's kneecaps and Legolas skipped out of the way hurriedly. "You too, Master Dwarf," he continued, as the dwarf let out a loud guffaw of laughter. "We must move on and I'll have no more of this fooling about!" With an angry huff, he tugged his cloak around himself and turned his back on the stunned beings, returning to his place at the head of the party.
The son of Gloin and the prince of Mirkwood glared at each other, anger still lighting their eyes, then abruptly, each turned and stalked away, Gimli stomping through the snow until he was just behind the wizard and Legolas settling himself just behind Sam, having given the ranger who walked at the back of the party a hard shove as he passed.
The fellowship resumed their way up the weathered heights of Caradhras. A smile appeared on a certain ranger's face and he bent down, swiftly scooping something off of the ground before straightening and glancing at the nimble-footed elf ahead of him.
(1) Refers to my other story, In Imladris. The chapter has not been posted as of yet but is well on its way to completion.
Soooo, that's it! Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! For the followers of my other story "In Imladris" (I love product placement, don't you?), the next chapter's nearly done and will be up soon along with reviewer responses. Thanks for reading and please, please, please review