Author's Notes: This is set before Frodo sailed into the west, but after Elanor's birth. . . So something like between March 25th 1421 (of the shire reckoning) and September 22nd of the same year (when Frodo and Sam met The Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings, in Woody End). I don't know if that makes any sense. Also, as far as dialogue, I've always imagined the Hobbits as speaking in a more modern manner, when compared to Elves, Men, Dwarves, etc. I think this is somewhat evident in the books as well. Or not? With most words in the dialogue, I've gone with the archaic meanings. Also, this is not a slash story, nor a parody, really (not that I mind either). I really hope you like it, and I'd love to hear your opinion (criticism too).
Disclaimer: I neither own nor claim to own the characters or realm herein used. They are all so property of Tolkien, his estate, etc.
Summary: Legolas has strange symptoms, and the Hobbits suspect something even stranger.
Samwise Gamgee had seen a great many things in his life. Even now, he could scarcely believe that he was in Minas Tirith, the great city of men, soon to be in the presence of its king, a man he had met as a Ranger. Mulling it over, he came to the familiar realization that he had seen quite a lot. He had seen the licking flames of the fires of Mordor, the jagged rocks of the Emyn Muil, legions of Orcs and Men, and adventures few other Hobbits would ever come near to claiming. He had seen unbreakable bonds of friendship and comradery, bravery beyond belief, and sacrifices innumerable. He had seen more races and peoples than he could have dreamt, even Elves, a folk that he had admired all his life. He had found them to be a kind, strong, graceful, beautiful people. He had been privileged to fight alongside an Elf from Rivendell to the banks of the Anduin. With the image of fearless warriors and whistling arrows dancing in his mind, it then came as a surprise to find said Elf seated, legs folded, and knitting.
Sam could think of a few reasons for knitting. He had only ever seen women knit, after all, at least that was how it was in the Shire. Rosie herself had taken it up. Sam firmly believed it was an honorable craft and had nothing against a male pursuing it, but it puzzled him. This was because one of the main reasons he believed people knitted was because they were making something for a child, usually one that would be arriving in the near future.
And so, as he passed the Elf in question, naturally he could not help but stop to ponder this peculiarity. Perhaps it was different for Elves? Sam had seen gorgeous art molded by the skillful hands of the immortal, mayhap it was considered a unisex art form by the Elves. His interest becoming further peaked, he decided he would consult with Frodo, Merry and Pippin on the matter later, and maybe Strider too at dinner tonight.
"Good afternoon, Sam." The soft voice startled the Hobbit out of his thoughts. Realizing he had been staring, a reddish tint began to creep across his face.
"Ah, um. . . Er, begging your pardon, Mister Legolas," Sam stuttered. Legolas had arrived for the celebration of the year anniversary of the destruction of the ring and the start of the fourth age. It was July now, and although there had been much celebrating in March, a few months ago when the fourth age had begun, Sam had been unable to attend. Sam remembered with chagrin that this was the first he'd seen of Legolas in a good while. Sam you old fool, what a nice way to say hullo after all this time . . . ! "I mean, well, that was mighty rude of me . . . But, well, " Sam turned a brighter red, shuffling his feet awkwardly. "Er. . ."
Legolas laughed quietly, which made Sam feel considerably less uncomfortable. "It is very good to see you again, Samwise." Legolas smiled warmly. Sam smiled back, scratching the back of his head to give his hand something to do. He had missed his companions during their long time apart. He was looking forward to everyone being together again for a time. Legolas placed a hand next to him, as if asking if Sam would like to join him. Sam scuttled over to the Elf sheepishly and took a seat. It would be good to catch up on old times, especially after such an embarrassing reunion. "How have you been?"
"Oh, good, good." Sam caught a glimpse of whatever it was that Legolas had been knitting. It looked curiously like a sock. Surely it would not fit anyone here. He could not look at it long, for Legolas pushed it aside and out of view soon after, presumably into a satchel. Legolas nodded at Sam's words.
"How about Rose?" Legolas asked after a few moments of silence.
"Oh that's right. . . How silly of me to forget!" Sam exclaimed, perking up at the mention of his wife. "Rosie, she's doing well. Little Elanor, too. She has got such golden hair, Elanor I mean. Now that I think of it, her hair reminds me of yours. Only her curls, she's only three months, you know, and already so many. Rosie's gotten to tying them with little ribbons, one on each side. I'd have brought them both with me, to meet everyone and all, but Elanor's still so young, and Rosie and me, we were worried that a trip might have been hard for them both. Oh, I wish they were here. It is a shame, I wanted Elanor to meet everyone proper and all, but I s'pose it'll just have to wait. I mean, Frodo and Merry and Pippin, they've seen her. . . Well of course they've seen her, Samwise, now you're blabbering," Sam began to turn red again, twiddling his thumbs together self-consciously as his sentence faded. "You'll come see her, won't you?" he asked suddenly "you don't have to if you don't want to. . . Rosie and me, we would understand if you didn't have time, you being a Prince and all, I wouldn't want. . . " by the end of it, Sam was muttering to himself, quite red in the face.
"Of course I will come see her." Legolas said, having seen Sam's predicament. Sam nodded happily. Truly, he wanted Elanor to meet Legolas, everyone for that matter, but Sam had the heart-wrenching feeling that there would not be many Elves left in Middle Earth sooner or later and he did not want his posterity to forget. Legolas' eyes flitted towards the entrance to the courtyard. Seeing Legolas raise a fine brow, Sam was tempted to ask if aught was amiss when Frodo, Merry and Pippin rounded the corner, the latter two clutching armfuls of various food stuffs.
"My point is that the kitchen staff have become stingy. I'm sure the court is half way to starving from the rations they serve. Me and Pip, we're just teaching them a well needed lesson. . ."
"And what's that?" Frodo did not sound as though he believed a word of it.
"That people ought to be fed right. Everyone will thank us later." Merry continued matter-of-factly, chewing on a piece of buttered bread. The whole while Pippin nodded justifiably.
"In any case, we cannot very well go marching back to the pantry. "Terribly sorry, we borrowed some of your food, here, have it back." " Merry acted the last part as though the kitchen staff stood before him. Unfortunately, Sam did stand before him, which was just as bad. In his heart, a flame of justice had been kindled. He would not have the kitchen staff thinking ill of Hobbit kind. After all, what would they think of Rosie and Elanor when they came to visit if these kitchen raids were continuously in correspondence with the appearances of Hobbits?
"You, you two mischief-makers, how can you take advantage of Mister Strider's hospitality? At this rate you'll empty the stores! The kitchen staff, too, they are distressed enough as it is without having to keep an eye out for pesky walking stomachs like you!" Sam was standing now, his finger pointed accusingly at the two offending Halflings. Legolas sat wide-eyed and mildly surprised by Sam's sense of righteousness. The others had not yet noticed him. "And now you've gone and drug Mister Frodo into the mess." Sam shook his head, his shoulders slumping. "And you had only just gotten onto good terms with them . . ."
There was silence for a time. Merry and Pippin exchanged a glace. Then, from hindmost Sam there came the sound of laughter. Sam jumped. In his haste to chasten his comrades, he had also forgotten that he was in Legolas' presence. Sam was frozen to his place, he dared not turn for fear of revealing his chagrin. He had turned red so many times in so little time, he wondered what the Prince thought of him.
"Legolas, we have not seen you in ages." Merry and Pippin, for all the weight they carried, came swiftly to Legolas' side. Merry leaned nigh, his eyes barely level with the Elf for Legolas was seated. "You have not changed a bit. Your hair has grown longer, though." Legolas blinked. Somehow managing to shift their bounty into Sam's unwilling arms, Merry and Pippin leapt upon the unsuspecting Elf. Legolas gave a small cry as the two landed, Merry upon his thighs, Pippin his midriff. Frodo, ever perceptive, caught the brief furrow of the Prince's brow ere it was masked as surprise. Nor did the way Legolas' hand rose to protect his stomach escape his eyes. Frodo wondered if anything was awry.
"You will not turn us in, will you?" Pippin piped up.
"Do how I can, I will keep your secret." Legolas leaned back onto his hand to support the added weight of the Hobbits. His bright eyes sparkled in the light of day. "Unto that, I will say simply it was under my request that you acted."
"That is good. They won't suspect you, Legolas." Frodo added. "At least, they will not question your influence."
"Neither should they question yours, for it is rightfully more than mine." Legolas addressed them all. Behind his words lay his utter gratitude and confidence.
"Legolas is right." Pippin puffed out his chest markedly. "The kitchen staff should not treat us as scoundrels."
"They wouldn't, if they did not have to keep chasing you away from the pantry." Sam explained, exasperatedly. "Mister Legolas, Sir, don't go putting ideas in their heads, if you please. It will only encourage them."
"Oh pish pash." Merry wafted a hand in the air as if to dispel the request. "And as long as we have it, we might as well share it. Legolas, would you like some?"
"You are just trying to spread the blame for when you are caught," Legolas' sensitive ears heard Sam grumble as he settled back down. "Though it does look good. . ." Pippin began to sort through the food, waving a portion of it in front of Legolas' nose, which was justly as sensitive.
In the pit of his stomach, Legolas felt something turn ill. Its cause he could not descry, other than the food being urged on him.
"Here, we have some cheese, and a dash of wine. . . Ah, and some mutton, bread of course. . ." The voices of Merry and Pippin, listing their glut of food, were as distant now as the lap of waves upon the seashore. He could feel the pallor that overtook his features. With the utmost of self control, the Prince withheld the contents of his stomach, despite his body's struggle against him. Wherefrom had this sickness come?
Frodo watched with growing concern as Legolas' lips became down-turned, his features, but for a moment, what he could only describe as nauseous. Having been frequented by ill health more often than he would have liked these passing months, it was not hard to spot the signs of it in someone else. Again Legolas' slender hand came to rest upon his stomach.
"Legolas," Frodo whispered, knowing Elves possessed hearing uncanny even by the standards of Hobbits, "are you alright?" Legolas' lips were now tightly pursed. He shook his head and blinked his eyes. The distant look that had invaded his gaze faded somewhat, though the blanch of his face did not. His bright eyes fluttered to look at Frodo.
"Hmm?" The Elf yet looked dazed.
"I asked if you are feeling alright?" Frodo repeated gently. Something was surely amiss.
"Ah, forgive me. I have not slept well these past nights, that is all." Legolas gave a warm smile that would have convinced most of his well-being. Frodo remained unconvinced. Nevertheless he shrugged his concern to the side for now. Legolas was an Elf and mayhap he was already tending to whatever ailment might have befallen him.
Legolas forced himself to stay. In his mind, he wanted to converse and be merry. These were friends he had not seen in so long. His body, however, rejected the normally inviting smells of whatever it was the Hobbits had mixed together. With each offer of 'a bite to eat,' Legolas felt the nauseous turning feeling in his stomach return and politely declined.
"It is no wonder you are skin and bones, Legolas. It's not natural not to eat, you know." Merry shook his head. He proved his point when he tried and failed to pinch any skin around the Elf's midriff. "Not even skin," Merry sniffed, "just bone."
"There is some muscle to him. Whereat it is hidden, even I do not know. And now you say he is not eating?" A new voice inquired. The four curly heads of the Hobbits swivelled 'round. Leaning inquisitively over them stood Aragorn. Legolas' eyes twinkled.
"Mister Strider! You gave us all a fright. . . Well, save Legolas, I amm sure," exclaimed Sam, catching his breath between words. Aragorn took a seat next to Legolas.
"For that I am sorry. My intention was to catch my Elven friend unawares. I know not if I succeeded." Legolas gave a quick shake of his head. His senses had informed him of Aragorn's approach e'en ere he had rounded the corner, but it had neither been by sound, sight nor smell but rather intuition. He could sense his friend's presence quite profoundly, and so it had become nigh unto impossible to take Legolas by surprise. Once in a while, though, it was bound to happen
"Alas, Aragorn, it is your dole e'er to give off a musty scent when upwind," Legolas jested, albeit somewhat feebly. The Hobbits all laughed, save Frodo, who gave a chaste grin. Aragorn guffawed briefly, not one to pass up an opportunity to find humor at his own expense. Not unlike Frodo, he too perceived Legolas' ill-health. He realized, however, that it would severely wound Legolas' pride to mention it in the presence of so many others.
"Legolas, you are trying to change the subject. You really should try some of these mushrooms, the best I've had in a mighty long time. They will put some meat on your bones." Pippin hinted, trying to draw the subject of conversation back to something he knew considerably more about.
"Pippin, mushrooms do not put meat on one's bones," Frodo added with a shake of his dark head.
"And you are the one changing the subject, not Mister Legolas," Sam chided softly.
"No, thank you, Pippin, but I would that you. . ."
"Nonsense," exclaimed Pippin, breaking off a piece and pushing it into the Elf's mouth before he had a chance to stop it. His arms were, after all, already occupied with holding up the weight of two Hobbits. Merry chuckled, Sam raised his eyebrows, Frodo and Aragorn waited anxiously and Legolas looked thoroughly stunned.
The Prince's jaw tightened as he clenched his teeth. Two options made themselves clear to him; spit out the offending food and likewise risk offending the Hobbits or swallow it and risk it coming back up of its own accord. Legolas decided, under great duress, and slowly, cautiously began to chew. He swallowed as it were a knife sliding down his throat. Stay down, stay down . . . for a moment all was fine. The tension that had built itself up in so short a time faded quickly, as stiff shoulders beneath skilled massaging hands. Legolas gave a little laugh, to reassure Pippin, and was about to speak thusly when Aragorn spoke first. The King acted as though he had only just remembered.
"Legolas, I apologize for snatching you away, nevertheless, Gimli and I were of the hope that you would join us for a spar. Your senses would be put to better use judging our blows, anyways."
Legolas glanced briefly at the Hobbits as if seeking their leave. Frodo nodded with a wink in the Elf's direction. The others were too caught up in a heated discussion about wether or not Elf's ate mushrooms to notice. Sam's audible sigh was heard above the voices. Frodo turned quietly to Legolas.
"We will see you at dinner tonight?"
Legolas nodded back with an appreciative grin. He rose somewhat more hampered than of oft and Aragorn took him by the arm as if to lead the way.
"How has your stomach been, my friend?" Frodo caught Aragorn whisper softly into Legolas' ear as they disappeared down the courtyard path. He waited a time to speak, half listening to Merry and Pippin argue and Sam sigh, half in deep thought, weighing all that had happened. His attention was pricked, of a sudden, by the drift in Merry and Pippin's friendly row.
"I wonder why Legolas left in such a hurry, Merry?" Pippin inquired, flicking a stray crumb from his overcoat.
"Strider said he was to judge a bout. I am sure he had his reasons." Sam folded his arms crosswise over his chest, nodding his head in a quick jerk as a convincing finish to his sentence.
"He did look a twinge under the weather, if you know what I mean." Merry noted, scratching at a speck of dirt on his cufflink. "What do you suppose brought that on?"
"Probably the food you forced on him!" Cried Sam in dismay. Sam found himself both grateful to Legolas, for being so understanding, and worried. What if Elve's didn't like mushrooms? What then would be done? And mayhap, worse yet, what if that dislike of mushrooms was precisely wherefore Legolas had fled?
"I think that is a part of it," Frodo said quietly. The three others turned instantly to him. Noting their attention after a moment of further thought, Frodo continued slightly more audibly, "I think that Legolas was feeling ill even ere the food was brought near him. The smells of it all, they just brought his illness out more profoundly."
"So it wasn't Pippin that made him sick?" Sam asked hopefully, but not too hopefully. He very much hoped that Pippin was not to blame for the Prince's sudden ailment, but Sam also, in the far reaches of his mind, knew that it was better a mushroom than something unknown and perhaps more dangerous.
"I think Pippin's mushroom only made it worse, though there was no way he could have known beforetime." Frodo paused again.
"Aragorn must have realized, or perhaps he already knew, and therefore made the excuse and whisked Legolas away." Merry waved a loaf of bread in a scholarly manner as he spoke, Frodo's deduction having dawned on him. "We will have to see how he is doing at dinner, I am sure Aragorn took care of him."
The discussion seemed to have come to a close, and the Hobbits were satisfied with their conclusion. Merry and Pippin continued to eat, disposing of the evidence of their recent crime. Sam would not aid the pair. "The ends do not justify the means," he had adamantly explained, all the while catching the tempting whiffs of food on the air. Frodo, too, had declined. His own appetite had not been nearly as hearty as that of most Hobbits this past year. Illness had frequented him, coming on its wanton whims to encumber him. He could sense its presence in the air, though yet far off. In his heart, he knew from whence it drew its cause. Nevertheless, he hoped it would relent with time, thus the ultimate solution avoided. Frodo wondered if Legolas suffered similarly under the Sea Longing.
Frodo could not say if that was the cause of the Elf's ill-health presently, for Frodo felt that that had to do with something entirely different, but he imagined that it had taken its toll. When first Frodo had met Legolas, there had been a whimsicalness about him, a freeness that could not be harnessed. Since then, a weight seemed to press upon the Elf's soul. Legolas' very being was ever bright, he yet danced with and without, but now he danced iron clad rather than barefoot, each step so cumbersome without a partner that it strained the very fibers of his make. He had hidden this away for none to see. Few did, but Frodo could. Frodo had born the burden of the Ring, a burden that was forever with him. His heart ached for those under a similar weight, able to see with piercing gaze through the veil sewn to hide such burthens. Frodo felt that all those dearest to Legolas would come to know.
"You know, for awhile Rosie would get horribly sick if she smelled certain things," Sam reflected as Merry and Pippin finished the last of the food.
"When was this?" Frodo asked, Sam's voice having pulled him from his own musings. Sam began to turn slowly red.
"Oh well, actually. . ." he scratched his head nervously, "it was. . ." he tapped his toes together anxiously, "it was when she was, well, you know, expecting."
"Expecting what?" Pippin asked curiously. Sam twiddled his thumbs, fidgeting somewhat restlessly.
"Er, well. . . a baby." Sam chirped, the words jumbled into a single sound. His ears were a stark pink.
"Elanor." Merry added, knowingly. "You mean she had morning sickness?" Sam's curly head bobbed a few times in what was taken as a nod.
"Only it was not only in the mornings. . . mostly when she caught wind of something, food by and large."
"Well it does not have to be in the morning, that is just what it's called. This one waitress down at the Green Dragon, she would always talk of it with her lady friends if one of them was expecting, usually it was her, tho. She would tell them that your nose can be your worst enemy at times and at others a very useful guide, on account of the way mothers to-be get a heightened sense of smell. "You can count the vegetables in the garden with it at times, sniff out a little nipper hiding from chores at another." That is what I remember, at least. This was a long time ago I heard it." Merry spoke, hardly embarrassed by the subject at hand. Merry chuckled then, having thought of something amusing. " Wouldn't it be something if that were why Legolas were sick?" Merry jested in stitches. Pippin chortled into his drink, chocking briefly, a dribble of wine dripping from his chin.
Frodo shook his head, smiling at Merry's humor. None there gathered appeared to notice the way Sam blanched. Merry's jape had spurned on a startling recollection. In fact, this recollection was the very reason for the four being gathered thereat. Sam had seen Legolas knitting. Sam considered himself to be a Hobbit of sound mind, and had come to regard himself of a certain level of intellect. And as impossible as the idea would seem, in some inconceivable way, it made sense. Thrice Sam shook his head in an attempt to jostle the thought from his brain but it would not leave him. Several minutes passed ere Sam awoke from his shocked stupor, and he awoke in the most stunning of fashions.
"What if it is true?" He blurted, the words tumbling from his mouth before he could stop them. Three pairs of astonished eyes came to rest on him. Sam heard the sound of his lungs, breathing hard and fast.
"What's that, Sam?" Pippin managed, his eyebrows so high upon his forehead Sam swore they would climb past his hairline and mingle among the curls. Sam took a few breaths, trying to becalm his racing heart.
"What if Mister Legolas is . . . expecting?" Of a sudden his throat felt dry and parched, as a desert untouched by water for many months. His voice cracked.
"Sam, that iss ridiculous," Frodo reasoned, his voice sounding incredulous, "I am sure Legolas is just ill. He was holding his stomach the whole time he was here."
"Faramir mentioned a small grippe among a few of the townspeople. That is probably to blame." Pippin had earlier conversed with the Steward of Gondor, and vaguely recalled the subject coming up. It seemed a reasonable enough explanation, the more he thought about it. Legolas had caught what the townspeople had spread.
"But Pippin, Elves do not get sick. Or catch the grippe," Sam exclaimed, a flood of emotions sweeping across his face.
"Surely they have upset stomachs."
"But I saw him!"
"You saw him what?" Merry, Pippin and Frodo asked as one, growing more and more concerned for their panicking companion.
"Knitting!" Sam cried, making a wild gesture with his arms. "Knitting the smallest of socks!"
He did not know what color of reaction he had anticipated. Forsooth, he was not entirely sure if any one of the Hobbits would believe him. Surely they saw him as a madman by now. A heavy silence fell upon them, all consuming as a thick fog. Sam imagined the minutes that ticked past were some of the most awkward of his life. He was glad to see them go. The four Hobbits sat, each doing his best to hold the gaze of the other three. At long last the silence was broken, dispelling as though a great zephyr had swept through it.
"I love to knit," Merry said carefully. "How about you, Pip?" He raised a brow to encourage the other.
"Hm? Oh, yes. I do it all the time. I knitted these socks." Pippin said equally carefully, pointing to the socks that he did not, in fact, have on. Sam groaned, throwing his hands over his face as a means of hiding. Frodo sat quietly and calculatingly. Sam watched miserably as the awkward silence resumed. He knew very well that Merry and Pippin were lying through their teeth. It was a preposterous idea to have voiced, but how could they not see it?
"Do you think it is possible?" Pippin asked meekly, having leaned in close to all in order to whisper. It was a conspiracy now. It felt only natural to whisper about something so dangerous, so wild, so mysterious.
"I do not know, Pip." Merry answered, his eyes wide and voice low. "I mean. . . I suppose, in some unimaginable way that it could happen. He is an Elf, maybe it works that way?" Merry could scarcely believe that he was explaining such an idea. Sam peered out from betwixt his fingers. Mayhap he had not gone mad, Merry and Pippin were curious now as well.
"Mister Frodo, what do you think?" Sam could not bring himself to look. He squished his eyelids closed, so nervous was he. Faintly he could hear the scuff of Frodo's feet as he stood. Timidly, Sam opened one eye. "Mister Frodo?"
"I think we ought to ask Strider, just to disprove what you are thinking." Frodo announced, having reached a sound resolution. Although the facts added up in their outre way, Frodo knew that there was a logical explanation for this mix up. He had sensed something amiss with Legolas, but nothing of this sort. And it would certainly not help anybody to go about spreading rumors about something that had hardly any basis. Frodo could picture the chaos now.
Bilbo had taught him much about the customs of Elves. If rumor spread that Legolas, even if it is possible, which it is not, was 'expecting' it would cause horrible complications. Elven wedlock was consummation by the traditions of Men. If Legolas was 'expecting,' which he is not, that would mean that he was married, and Frodo was quite certain that he was not. Elves typically married upon coming of age, between fifty and one hundred years of life, which meant that Legolas' being unmarried was a peculiarity caused either because of his status or by his own will. Either way, there was a reason behind it. It was said that one could distinguish between the voices of those married and those not. Frodo had no such skill, but Aragorn and many others did. If anyone bechanced to overhear, however, it would give Legolas troubles innumerable. Being immortal did not mean that an Elf spent their whole existence occupied by lustful fancies. Legolas was a virgin, could not in any way be 'expecting' and belike could be insulted if accused. These thoughts spurred Frodo's haste. "I think we ought to ask now, before anyone overhears you saying such things."
Frodo began to walk down the courtyard path, in the direction he had seen Aragorn take Legolas. They would find Aragorn, tell him of their misconceptions and be done with it. Frodo was reassured by the pitter patter of Hobbit feet behind him, sprinting to catch up.
The next chapter will be posted shortly, I really hoped you liked it. Reviews are appreciated, too. Thanks for reading!