Burying The Hatchet

As the company settled beside the banks of the Nimrodel, Frodo watched as Gimli paced up and down, selecting a comfortable spot to settle himself, while Legolas sang a long, sad song of the maiden Nimrodel, who had apparently once lived by this stream. With the exception of the dwarf, the company seemed mesmerised by the words, as the elf's soft voice merged with the sound of the leaves. Gimli, seemingly oblivious to the haunting song, rummaged in his pack, searching for leaf and pipe. As Legolas faltered to a halt, Gimli lit his pipe, and sucked at it vigorously.

Frodo drew a breath of the pipeweed smoke, and shuddered, coughing harshly. What was Gimli smoking? It was surely never Old Toby, nor Longbottom Leaf. It was more reminiscent of Old Toby's socks – unwashed ones, at that. He noticed that the spot Gimli had so carefully selected was directly downwind of Legolas – and that every puff of the foul-smelling smoke blew directly into the elf's face.

Legolas bore this abuse for a remarkably long time, then abruptly rose. "I will walk a little way back along our path," he announced. "I wish to be sure no orcs followed us from Moria."

Without another word he turned. One end of his bow, strapped to his back, caught Gimli a sharp blow behind his ear, but Legolas appeared not to notice. Silently, he disappeared into the night.

Gimli gave a low growl, and would have leapt to his feet and followed. Frodo placed a warning hand on his shoulder. He had had enough. "Stop it," he warned quietly. "Stop antagonising him. Do you think I didn't hear all those tales you were telling, about cave-ins and mining accidents? Of dwarves who got hopelessly lost and were never seen again?"

Gimli looked a little sheepish. "I didn't mean to upset you, lad," he explained. "I was just – I was just recalling some old tales my father told me!"

"They were old tales you just happened to recall every time Legolas was within earshot!"

"Aye, well, there were some other tales my father told me that I could tell the elf!" Gimli retorted. "Tales of dungeons, and imprisonment, and innocent travellers waylaid on their journey!"

"Look, Gimli," Frodo said quietly. "That was all along time ago. There's no reason for the two of you to be enemies over anything that happened between your fathers."

Gimli bristled. "But yon Elvenking," – he jerked his thumb in the very vague direction of Mirkwood – "locked my father up! In a dungeon! He starved them!"

"Thranduil didn't starve Thorin, Glóin, or any of the dwarves," Frodo pointed out gently. "He gave them all food, and water. They were starving, before – he probably saved their lives."

Gimli snorted.

"It was all just a – a regrettable misunderstanding," Frodo continued quietly. "And Gandalf," – he paused and swallowed – "Gandalf said so himself. You aren't going to argue with him, now, are you?"

There was silence for a moment, then Gimli sighed heavily. "No."

Across the area where they sat, Legolas emerged from the trees, and glided over to where Aragorn sat, deep in thought. He sat beside the man, and they talked quietly. Although weary, neither seemed unduly alarmed, and Frodo decided that Legolas had found no trace of orcs pursuing them. He noticed the direction of Gimli's glare, and tried again. "Don't you think it's time to bury the hatchet?"

Gimli looked longingly at his axe, then at Legolas. "In the elf's head, you mean?" he asked hopefully.

"No!" Frodo exclaimed. "No, you know I don't mean that. I mean – just let the matter lie. Forget it. Remember, you weren't there, and Legolas wasn't there."

The dwarf snorted in disgust. "No, and neither were you!" he pointed out.

"No, but Bilbo was," Frodo reminded him. "He saw everything, don't forget. He told me. The elves never saw him, but he saw them. Don't you think he'd have said something by now if Thranduil had ill-treated your father or his companions? And why, at the Battle of Five Armies, did he decide to defend the Elvenking?"

"Ha!"

"Gimli, please," Frodo begged. "We can't risk what's left of the fellowship with petty arguments. Remember what happened. Can't you at least try – for Gandalf's sake?"

Gimli sighed. "I suppose I could try," he conceded. "For Gandalf's sake."

Aragorn had moved to speak with Boromir, leaving Legolas sitting alone. Frodo watched as Gimli approached him. Legolas looked up warily as Gimli sat beside him, and an expression of amazement broke over his face as the dwarf extended his hand. For a moment he hesitated, and Frodo feared that the gesture – which had cost Gimli so much – would be rebuffed. He held his breath.

"Well I never, would you look at that, Mr Frodo!" Sam spoke at his side as elf and dwarf tentatively shook hands. "Whatever are they doing?"

"They're burying the hatchet, Sam. Who knows – one day, they might even be friends."

The End

Author's Notes: The term 'bury the hatchet' is a Native American expression, so the hobbits wouldn't know it. I know that. I just needed it for this story.