Disclaimer: Alas, none of the Fellowship belongs to me except in my dreams.
Summary: A potential tragedy involving Legolas early in the Quest severely tests Pippin's ability to maintain his happy nature.
A/N: This story was written for the Teitho Contest theme: Happiness/Unhappiness.
FOR A FRIEND
by White Wolf
The Fellowship formed in Rivendell, by Elrond Peredhil, lord of that mystical elven realm, was making good time on their way south. Each one of them, even the four innocent hobbits from the Shire, were aware that enemies were gathering to try and stop them from reaching the fires of Mordor's Mount Doom . It was only there that the One Ring could be destroyed, thus saving the free peoples of Middle-earth from the evil of the Dark Lord Sauron.
The nine members of the Fellowship, also known as the Company and the Nine Walkers, had met and gotten to know each other while in Rivendell. It was only natural that the hobbits would spend much of their time with each other, however, the curious halflings were always asking their companions endless questions.
It was Pippin, not only the youngest hobbit but the youngest member of the Fellowship, who seemed to be the most happy-go-lucky and was definitely the most talkative, though Merry was a close second. Pippin would often take turns traveling beside a different companion each day, but it was the elf, Legolas, Prince of the elven forest of Mirkwood, that drew the majority of his attention.
The Fellowship had been on the road for a little over three weeks, when Pippin once again sought out Legolas to walk with. As always, he respectfully asked the prince for permission. "May I walk with you, Legolas?"
The tall elf looked down at the much smaller hobbit beside him and smiled. "Of course, you may, Master Peregrin. What do you wish to know today?" Prepared for a barrage of questions, he was beginning to wonder when, or even if, Pippin would ever run out of things he wanted to know. The elf doubted it. Yet he found that the hobbit's limitless curiosity was not tiresome in the least. He rather enjoyed it.
Pippin was not a bit embarrassed by his thirst for knowledge. Getting to know more about his new friends, their lives and cultures, made him happy. "Asking questions is the best way to learn things, don't you think?"
Needing no more encouragement, Pippin plunged right in. "What is it like to live forever?"
Though he wasn't quite sure why, Legolas was as close to being surprised by that question as by anything else the hobbit had asked him so far. "I cannot answer that, Pippin."
Pippin's face blushed scarlet. "I'm sorry, Legolas. I didn't mean to ask something so personal." He lowered his head, afraid that he may have finally gone too far with his curiosity.
Legolas's light, musical laughter made Pippin raise his head and look up into the elf's handsome face. The expression he saw there was not one of condemnation but of genuine mirth. "It is not because the question is too personal that I cannot answer."
"Then why?" the hobbit asked, clearly not understanding.
"I have not yet lived forever, Pippin. If I did, my time would never end, so even a thousand ages from now, I still would not be able to answer your question."
Sudden comprehension dawned on the hobbit, and he, too, broke out laughing. "I guess that was a pretty stupid thing to ask, huh?"
"No question you do not know the answer to is stupid, Pippin. As you say, you learn by asking."
It didn't take Pippin long to get back into his normal state of curiosity and to seek out more information. "I know elves are old," he said, totally unaware that this could be considered by some an insulting statement. Forging ahead, he innocently asked, "How old are you, Legolas?"
Most of the time Legolas spent with the hobbits, this one in particular, was spent with a perpetual smile on his face. It grew broader now to think that he was actually considered young by elven standards. To mortals, however, he was old indeed. "I was born many centuries ago," Legolas replied, not feeling the need to put an exact number on it. To adult elves such things did not matter.
"Doesn't it get boring after so much time?"
The elf laughed once again. "Not so far," he replied. "Life in the forest is full. There is much to do, especially since the return of the Shadow." The last was spoken with a note of sadness. He didn't want to make Pippin sad, as well, so he quickly continued. "One thing we love to do is hold celebrations. You have not been to a true celebration until you have attended one given by the elves of Mirkwood beneath the trees."
"I can vouch for that," Aragorn commented. He was walking just in front of Legolas and Pippin. He turned around and grinned. "Elves know how to celebrate just about anything and everything, and they do it in style."
"I don't mean to be disrespectful," Sam piped up from behind, "but there is nothing in all of Middle-earth like a Shire celebration."
Merry decided to join in, at this point. He called to the wizard, who was leading the Company. "Gandalf, you know the elves and the Shire. Who has the best celebrations?"
Gandalf turned around. "Such a choice I cannot make, young Meriadoc. Both are well worth the effort to attend."
Merry seemed a little disappointed that the wizard didn't back up Sam's declaration. He couldn't imagine anything more grand than the one held for Bilbo's last birthday.
Gimli, also joining the conversation for the first time, said, "Well we dwarves celebrate for days, and it's something to behold. Wouldn't you say so, Gandalf?"
"I would," the wizard agreed.
There followed a cacophony of voices, each extolling the merits of their peoples' celebrating prowess.
Gandalf coughed loudly until the voices gradually died down, and there was silence. "All celebrations are noteworthy," he declared. "Let us leave it at that." He loved the boundless energy of the hobbits, and though everyone had engaged in the loud debate, it was the hobbits that were the most boisterous. This was going to be a very long journey, Gandalf mused with a sigh.
Pippin reached up and grabbed Legolas's arm. "Let's wait until everyone else goes on ahead, so we can talk in private and in peace." He wasn't really angry; he just wanted to continue the talk with no more interruptions.
The rest of their companions moved ahead, leaving Legolas and Pippin to bring up the rear and resume their conversation.
x x x x x
The Company made camp that night in a small grove of trees surrounded by thick bushes. There hadn't yet been any overt moves against them by the enemy, but each knew they were being searched for. Caution was paramount. The more cover they could surround themselves with the better.
Pippin made it a point to sit beside Legolas, as the group gathered around the small fire that Gandalf allowed them to have. The hobbit smiled over his plate at the elf, who smiled back. The two looked like they were conspiratorially sharing a secret.
Merry narrowed his eyes at his cousin. "What are you up to, Pip?" He didn't dare imply that the elven prince was up to anything secretive.
Turning an innocent face toward the curly-haired Brandybuck, Pippin said, "Nothing, Merry. Nothing at all." Belying those words, Pippin turned his head back toward Legolas and laughed. There was no secret, but if he could confound Merry by making it look like such secrecy existed, then he was more than happy to do so.
After the meal was finished, the Company sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts as they stared into the crackling flames of the campfire.
The first to break free of the mesmerizing effects of the fire's spell was Legolas. "I shall check around the area and make sure all is well."
Aragorn and Gandalf both nodded their agreement with that idea, knowing that with the elf's keen vision and hearing, nothing evil would surprise them.
Pippin got up and started toward his pack, intent on getting some pipeweed for himself and anyone else who desired to smoke.
Just as he reached down to grab his pack, there was a rustling noise in the brush a few feet away. Besides Pippin, only Legolas heard it.
Pippin let out a cry of alarm, drawing the stares of the rest of the group. The looks of curiosity turned to surprise, when they saw a foot-long, hairy red spider moving out from beneath the bush nearest the small hobbit.
Legolas recognized the creature immediately. So did Aragorn and Gandalf.
"Pippin, get back," Aragorn yelled to the hobbit, whose fear rooted him to the spot and would not allow him to obey the command.
The creature crawled swiftly toward Pippin, whose hand was only inches off the ground. Rearing up on its back legs and extending two black two-inch fangs, it paused over the hobbit's hand for only a second before the front of its body began its downward plunge.
Legolas was not armed, since he had been on his way to gather his weapons before making his surveillance around the camp. To get his bow or even a knife would take too long. With the speed only an elf was capable of, he raced toward Pippin and then launched himself through the air, left hand out-stretched.
Just as the fangs came down, Legolas's left hand covered that of the terrified hobbit.
An instant later, the fangs sank deep into the elf's flesh. A hiss of pain escaped Legolas's lips, as he rolled over, grabbing the creature with his right hand and jerking the fangs out of his hand. A thick white liquid dripped from the end of both fangs.
Legolas threw the beast against a nearby tree with all the force he could muster. Its body hit the trunk with a thud and then fell to the ground, stunned but not dead.
Legolas rolled over one more time, ending up on his back. He grabbed his left wrist to cradle the injured hand against his chest.
Aragorn saw the spider twitching and threw his knife at it, embedding the blade in its fat body. Withdrawing his knife, he then kicked the creature over the bushes and out of sight.
Bending down beside Legolas, Aragorn took the elf's hand and put it to his mouth. He sucked as much of the venom he knew had been pumped into the elf as he could. There was no way to know how much had already entered the elven archer's system.
Pippin had straightened up but otherwise hadn't moved. He stared wide-eyed at Legolas, his shocked mind trying to take in what had just happened.
Merry shook his cousin. "Pippin. Pippin, are you all right? Did it bite you?"
Pippin absently shook his head. His eyes never left the elf, who had just saved him from that horrid spider. No one had mentioned the word poison, but he wasn't so innocent that he didn't know Aragorn wouldn't be sucking the wound and then spitting out the contents, if no poison was involved.
It hadn't taken Gandalf but a few seconds to reach Legolas's side. He looked at Aragorn, his expression asking how bad.
"I don't know," the ranger replied honestly. He had seen the results of this particular spider's bite several times before, and it was never predictable.
"What was that thing?" Frodo asked, as he, too, made his way to where Legolas lay, conscious but stunned.
"A most vicious species of spider," Gandalf answered. "It's venom is painful and can be deadly." He offered no further explanation, but his meaning was clear---the situation was serious.
"What can be done for Legolas?" Boromir asked, standing and staring down at the elf. A frown of concern creased the man's face.
When there was no answer forthcoming, the onlookers became nervous. No one was telling them that Legolas would be all right. No one was offering any words of reassurance.
"You mean...?" Merry couldn't finish the sentence.
"No, Merry," Aragorn said firmly. He refused to let anyone think Legolas was going to die. "Get my pack. There are herbs I can use."
Merry made his way across the camp at a run, found the ranger's pack and brought it quickly back to him.
For the next twenty minutes, the ranger worked feverishly to do what he could for Legolas. Some herbs went into the elf while others went on his hand.
Once the wound was wrapped and the elf made as comfortable as possible, Pippin moved up beside him. "Why did you do that, Legolas? Why did you risk yourself for me?"
"That is what friends do for each other," the elf replied, his voice low, and his words coming slowly. "You are too small. The venom would have killed you."
"But I am nothing compared to an immortal prince."
"You are wrong, Pippin. You are the worth of any of us, and I am glad I was able to do it for you." Legolas managed a smile before his eyes, clouded with pain, drifted closed. He did not open them.
Pippin didn't think he could ever laugh again, if Legolas lost his life because o f him. He looked at Aragorn. "Please, Strider, tell me he will be all right."
'If only I could,' Aragorn thought. "It's up to the Valar now and to Legolas's will, which I know for a fact, is very strong."
"Then he will live," Pippin stated with all the assurance he could put into his voice. "The Valar wouldn't take his immortal life, because he saved mine." Sure of his words, Pippin sat down and held Legolas's good hand. He was prepared to wait right there for as long as it took for his elven friend to come back to all of them. The others may be worried, but he was trying his best not to be. Not only did he want to laugh again, but even more, he wanted to hear again the beautiful music of Legolas's laughter.
x x x x x
During the night, whatever needed to be done for Legolas, Pippin took upon himself to do. He didn't try to keep anyone away, but they each could see staying with Legolas was something the hobbit had to do. They understood that it was a debt he owed the elf.
The only one who approached was Aragorn, as he checked the elf's progress several times during the long, dark hours. Other than that, it was Pippin who wiped sweat from the elf's forehead. It was Pippin who squeezed water from a cloth onto Legolas's dry lips and into his parched mouth. And at one point, when Legolas's body trembled from the effects of the venom, it was Pippin who held him.
By the time the sun was high enough to penetrate through the branches of the trees, Legolas had awakened to find the youngest hobbit right where he had last seen him.
Seeing the bright blue-gray eyes looking up at him, Pippin said, "Legolas." A broad smile spread across the hobbit's face. "I knew you would be all right."
Everyone was happy to see that Legolas had evidently defeated the effort of the venom to take his life. But there was no one happier than Pippin.
"You stayed with me all night?" the elf asked in a slightly raspy voice.
"Of course. That's what friends do for each other."