Title: Chain Reaction

Author: Yuggster

Rating: K

Genre: Humor...written to be a ridiculous story and nothing more

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings does not belong to me. It is the intellectual marvel of J.R.R. Tolkien, and my pitiful work pales in comparison to his.

Summary: A harmless lie causes things to spin out of control for Legolas and Gimli. Humor. Post-ROTK.

AN: This is what I wrote for the January Teitho contest ("White Lie"). I thought it was funny when I was writing it, and I still like it, but in a literary sense I know it's not that good.

The beginning incident with the vase is based off of a story from my father's childhood.

Also, this story was written as kind of a dig at Yoda Stories, a game made by LucasArts where you basically spend the entire time running around running errands for people. You'd probably have to play it to understand, but basically in every level of the game you play Luke Skywalker running around on some planet on a ridiculously circuitous scavenger hunt in order to retrieve an item or complete a task Yoda sent you for.


The First Link...

CRASH!

"Gimli!" Legolas groaned. "Look what you made me do!"

The dwarf glanced up innocently. "What did I do, Lad?" he asked, a grin on his face.

"I dropped the vase!"

"Well," Gimli sat back, crossing his arms over his chest with a look of satisfaction on his face. "I did say that you could not hold it."

Legolas groaned, dropping into a chair next to his friend. "I'm sure that was a wedding gift from one of the lords of Gondor. Aragorn is going to kill me."

"Now, now," Gimli patted the elf on the arm. "He'll do nothing of the sort."

The elf glared at his friend, eyes narrowing. "He won't?" he asked sarcastically.

"I believe Lady Arwen will have disposed of your body long before Aragorn has a say in it."

Legolas groaned again, dropping to rest his head on the table. "It's all your fault, Gimli," he said again.

"I'm not the one who picked it up!"

"But you dared me to!"

"How does that make it my fault?" the dwarf chuckled. "Fool Elf."

Said Fool Elf sprang up, a devious glint in his eyes. "You'll pay for this, Master Dwarf."

Gimli raised an eyebrow, suddenly understanding why his father had had so much trouble standing up to King Thranduil when Thorin's company was imprisoned in Mirkwood. "Now, Legolas," he tried to reason with the elf, backing hastily away as the fair creature advanced. "It was only a joke."

Legolas towered over Gimli, grinning mercilessly as he backed the dwarf into a corner. "You are going to tell Aragorn that you broke the vase."

The dwarf's eyes widened. "Why would I do that?"

"Because if you don't, I will let it slip who put the itching powder in Aragorn's tunic at the banquet last week."

"But I didn't," the dwarf protested.

"Aragorn doesn't know that," Legolas replied. "Well?"

Defeated, the dwarf sighed. "Very well, Master Elf," he grumbled.

"Good," Legolas beamed, grabbing Gimli by the shoulder and pushing him out of the room.

"Wh-what are you doing?" Gimli blustered, taken too unawares to put up much of a fight.

"You are going to confess to Aragorn now."

"Now?"

"Yes, now. Come, Gimli," the elf said patiently. "It would not do to hold such a thing a secret, would it?"

Gimli had no chance left to protest, for with one final push Legolas shoved him into Aragorn's study, where the king had retired to look over the reports brought in by the last patrols.

Aragorn glanced up as his two friends walked in. "To what do I owe this honor?" he asked sarcastically.

"Master Gimli," Legolas replied, pushing the protesting dwarf forward, "has something he wishes to say to you."

The dwarf glared up at the elf before turning to face the king. "Aragorn," he began, his words sticking in his mouth.

Legolas frowned and gently slapped the back of the dwarf's head. "Out with it," he hissed.

Gimli glared back up at the elf. "I...I broke the vase."

The king's eyebrows rose in amusement. "There are many vases in the palace, Gimli."

"It was a wedding present."

Aragorn sighed. "Do you know how many vases Arwen and I received as wedding gifts? It seems as though every lord in the land had one he wished to be rid of and handed them off to me."

Gimli hesitated, glancing up at Legolas. The elf could clearly read his friend's eyes—if Aragorn wasn't upset about the prospect of a broken vase, surely he wouldn't have to say anymore? Legolas frowned and nodded at Aragorn, his eyes flashing dangerously.

"Oh, it's nothing," Gimli said, smirking up at the elf. "See you at lunch?"

"Aragorn," Legolas easily caught hold of Gimli's tunic, holding the dwarf at bay as he tried to escape. "Do you remember the banquet last week?"

"Enough!" Gimli shouted, wrenching himself free. "It was the one in the parlor," he said with yet another glare at the elf.

The king shook his head. "There are at least twenty-seven vases in the parlors throughout the palace, Gimli. Which one?"

"The, uh, the one from Lord...Lord...uh..." he glanced over at Legolas for help, but the elf just shrugged.

Aragorn's brow furrowed. "Lord Uh?" he said slowly, his eyes sparkling with merriment. "I was not aware there was such a lord in Gondor."

Legolas grumbled something in Elvish under his breath. "It was in the parlor by the dining hall, a tall one decorated with flowering vines and animals."

The king's eyes widened, and his silver gaze fastened on Gimli. "That one?" he asked.

Gimli nodded miserably. "Aye." Inwardly he cursed the elf for making him lie like this...it wasn't his fault that he goaded the elf into breaking the vase, was it?

Aragorn sighed. "Gimli, that vase was very important. It was a gift from Lord..."

Elf and dwarf looked up at the king, who quickly shook his head. "It does not matter who it was a gift from," he said with a frown.

"You can't remember either," Legolas accused.

"That isn't the point," Aragorn replied sharply. "The point is, Arwen loved that vase and she will be very angry that it is broken."

Gimli looked down at his feet, pretending to be contrite but seething that the elf had tricked him into this. "I am sorry," he said as sincerely as possible.

Aragorn shook his head. "I know, Gimli. I will not tell Arwen that you broke the vase, however..."

The dwarf glanced up, looking from the elf to Aragorn. "What?"

The king smiled. "You must do something for me."


The Second Link...

"Why on earth would the king steal pastries from the kitchen?" Gimli moaned, turning back to the elf who was trailing behind him.

"I do not know, mellon-nin," Legolas replied with a smile. "But you should hurry if you wish to catch the cooks before they begin to prepare lunch."

Gimli stopped, grabbing Legolas by the tunic as the elf nearly ran into him. "No," he said slowly, a grin spreading across his face. "You should hurry."

Legolas looked down at the dwarf innocently. "Me? Why?"

"Because," Gimli grinned, pushing the elf before him down the hall. "You are going to tell the cooks that you took the pastries."

"But Aragorn told you to," Legolas protested.

"Aye, and you made me cover up for your vase-breaking. I think this is only fair."

The elf crossed his arms over his chest and planted his feet in the hall. "I will not," he said stubbornly.

"All right," Gimli shrugged. "I will just go back to Aragorn and tell him what really happened with the vase."

Legolas laughed. "After you confessed to it? He'll never believe it...he'll think you're too afraid to face the cooks."

"Then I shall tell him you put the itching powder in his tunics."

The elf froze. "You wouldn't," he said sharply.

Gimli raised an eyebrow. "Aragorn?" he called over his shoulder, turning to go back to the king's study.

Legolas grabbed a handful of his friend's tunic and pulled him in the other direction. "You're enjoying this far too much," he hissed, storming off toward the kitchens.

The dwarf grinned as the irate elf pulled him along. Yes, yes he was.

The elf paused just inside the kitchen, glancing around at the cooks busily preparing for lunch. He hesitated and turned to leave, but one of the cooks stopped him.

"Is there something you needed?" she asked pleasantly, smiling at both elf and dwarf.

Legolas cleared his throat. "I...I wanted to say..."

The dwarf slapped his friend on the back. "Out with it, Laddie," he growled.

"I took some pastries earlier, and wanted to apologize," he said quickly, glaring at Gimli.

The cook blinked. "Oh, that's all..." she began, but was interrupted when one of the other cooks grabbed her arm and whispered in her ear. A devious smile spread across the cook's face, one that Legolas did not like one bit. "Master Elf," she said, shaking her head. "You should not have taken those without permission."

Elf and dwarf exchanged glances. Was stealing pastries really such a crime?

"But," the young cook continued, "I will not tell the head cook if you do something for me..."


The Third Link...

"By the Valar," Legolas groaned, slumping against the wall as soon as they were out of the kitchens.

Gimli patted his arm in sympathy. "I would not wish to be in your shoes, Master Elf," he said consolingly.

The elf's eyes flashed, and Gimli was again reminded of his father's stories of King Thranduil. "No, I would not wish to be in yours," Legolas said, grabbing him by the shoulder and turning him around.

"Now, Legolas," Gimli protested as he was pushed down the hall. "Don't be rash."

"I'm not," the elf replied smoothly. "But unless you want me telling Aragorn that you put the itching powder..."

"All right!" Gimli fumed, stomping down the hall and muttering something under his breath.

Legolas grinned and trailed behind. This he would have to see.

As they had anticipated, Lady Eowyn was in the parlor off the quarters that she and her husband used when they were visiting the city. Said lady was, at the moment, attempting a needlepoint project but failing somewhat miserably.

She glanced up and her face brightened considerably. "Legolas! Gimli!" she beamed, standing to greet them. "What brings you here?"

Legolas glared down at Gimli, and the dwarf hesitantly took a step forward. "Lady Eowyn," he began.

"Please, I am just Eowyn," she replied sweetly. "I have no desire to be called 'Lady' by two of my dearest friends."

"Eowyn," Gimli began, backing up to be pushed forward by Legolas. "Do you...do you remember the silver platter you lent the cooks for the banquet?"

The Lady of Ithillien frowned in thought. "I believe I do," she replied quietly.

"I...I asked permission to look at it when I was in the kitchens."

Eowyn laughed. "Whatever were you doing in the kitchens?"

"Stealing pastries," Legolas whispered. Gimli glared up at him, annoyed.

"It isn't important. But I took it up to my room to study it further, and I...I..."

The lady frowned. "Out with it, Gimli," she ordered, a bit harshly.

Gimli winced. "I'm afraid I have misplaced it," he finally said, cringing a bit as though expecting the lady's wrath.

Eowyn sighed, walking away from her friends to look out the window. "That was my mother's, Gimli," she said, her voice tight.

The dwarf lowered his head, humbled. Even though he had not been the one who lost the platter, he still felt guilty over the circumstances. "I am sorry," he said sincerely.

Shaking her head, Eowyn turned back to face the dwarf. "I hope that you shall find it, Gimli," she said sternly.

Gimli looked down. "If there's any way I can make it up to you," he offered, hoping she would say nothing.

Eowyn began to shake her head, but paused. "There is one favor I could ask of you," she said slowly, a smile spreading across her face.

The dwarf's eyes widened, and Eowyn laughed at his expression. "'Tis nothing much, Master Gimli," she commented lightly. "My horse threw a shoe this morning, and I need him taken to the blacksmith to be reshod."

Gimli sighed in relief. "I shall take him myself," he vowed.

"Oh, but wait," Eowyn held up a hand. "This is the third time it has happened," she explained. "The blacksmith will not be happy if he learns that it has happened to me yet again, and I do not wish to be on his bad side as he is one of Faramir's friends. So if you could tell him you were riding when the horse threw his shoe I would be very grateful."

"But I cannot ride," Gimli protested.

Eowyn raised one eyebrow, and Gimli found himself quailing under her eye. He could not bear up under the stare of the White Lady for long and quickly assented. "Very well," he said gruffly. "I shall tell him," he agreed with a bow.

"Or someone shall," he muttered as he and Legolas exited.


The Fourth Link...

"Itching powder."

Legolas looked down at his friend, a puzzled look on his face. "What?"

"You are going to speak to the blacksmith," Gimli explained, crossing his arms over his chest.

The elf sighed. "I thought as much," he admitted. "Very well."

Gimli's jaw nearly dropped in shock as the elf simply walked away. "Legolas!" Gimli called, running to catch up with him. "You're going?"

Legolas smiled. "I happen to be on good terms with the blacksmith," he said easily. "I helped him shoe a few horses last time I visited."

The dwarf snorted. "You?" he asked sarcastically. "The little Elvish Princeling, shoeing horses?"

He was rewarded with a cold, blue-eyed glare. "I have done it before, Gimli. I have had many horses of my own over the last few centuries, and have had occasion to shoe them myself."

Gimli chuckled. "Shall you shoe the lady's horse, then?" he asked as they stopped at the stables to retrieve said horse.

Legolas shrugged. "Perhaps."

The elf gently led the horse past the stables to the blacksmith's shop, knocking on the door to announce their presence.

The blacksmith, a young man with brown hair and eyes, glanced up from his work at the forge. "Master Legolas," he nodded. "What brings you here?"

"This horse," the elf explained, gesturing to the animal behind him.

The blacksmith walked over to examine the beast. "That is Lady Eowyn's horse, is it not?"

"Aye," Legolas nodded. "She let me borrow him for a ride this morning, and I'm afraid he threw a shoe."

"Why would you borrow her horse?" the blacksmith asked curiously, bending down to check the horse's hooves for the offending shoe. "Is something wrong with yours?"

Legolas hesitated. "Master Gimli wished to ride Arod today," he lied, glancing over as the dwarf clapped a hand over his mouth to smother an incredulous laugh. "Eowyn was kind enough to allow me to use hers."

The blacksmith sighed. "All right. I will take care of him in a moment."

"Thank you," Legolas bowed to the young blacksmith. "If I can ever repay you," he offered, wincing as he did so.

The young man looked up, a smile on his face. Legolas groaned inwardly. Did everyone have some transgression they wished to hide?

"There is one thing you could do," the blacksmith said.


The Fifth Link...

"Not this time," Gimli protested as soon as they were out of the blacksmith's hearing.

"Itching powder, Gimli," Legolas reminded his friend.

"I don't care," the dwarf groused. "You can tell Aragorn anything you wish, but I will not tell that gardener that I was the one who muddied up the fountain. That falls upon your shoulders, Elf."

"But this all started with you, Gimli," Legolas retorted. "If you had brought the horse to the blacksmith I would be happy to face the gardener for you, but as it stands it is only fair that you do this."

"Legolas," Gimli protested, grabbing the elf by the arm. "He is no normal man."

The elf raised an eyebrow in amusement. "He isn't?"

"I would not face him even if all my kin stood beside me!"

"I daresay not," Legolas replied merrily. "For if they were all beside you the lot of you would trample the gardener's precious rosebushes."

Gimli moaned. "This isn't funny," he said. "If you would make so light of this then why don't you face him yourself?"

Legolas shook his head. "I am an immortal, Gimli."

The dwarf frowned. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"It would be shameful for me to die at the hands of a gardner," the elf explained. "No, Gimli, I would sail before facing him."

"I do not mean to eavesdrop," a new voice suddenly interrupted. "But what are you talking about?"

Gimli and Legolas whirled around, bowing to the newcomer. "Lord Faramir," Legolas greeted his friend with a smile.

"We were discussing the gardener," Gimli explained.

"Aye," Legolas shoved Gimli behind him before the dwarf could say any more. "Gimli washed his boots in the garden fountain, and he is now afraid to face the gardener to tell him why the fountain is so muddy."

Faramir smiled in amusement. "I see," he said quietly.

Gimli pushed Legolas aside. "Elf!" he exclaimed.

"Peace, Master Gimli," Faramir held up a hand before Gimli could say or do anything to the elf. "Are the pair of you truly so afraid of the gardener?"

Elf and dwarf looked down at the ground in shame.

"He threatened to cut off my beard because I trampled one of his flowers," Gimli admitted. "He had his shears in his hand when he did so—he is a fearsome man."

The man nodded in understanding. "Legolas?"

The elf shook his head, not responding. Gimli stared up at his friend. "Legolas?" he asked incredulously.

"I am not afraid of him," the elf said sharply.

Faramir folded his arms over his chest, sharing an amused glance with Gimli. "No one said you were, Legolas."

The blond hesitated, glaring down at Gimli. "Do not laugh," he said sternly.

Gimli's eyes widened. "Why would I?"

"He...he mocks me," Legolas finally said. "Every time I am in the garden he mocks my hair, my appearance, my singing..." the elf shrugged miserably.

The dwarf bit his tongue to keep from laughing. "He mocks you? Legolas, I mock you."

"But I know you don't mean any malice by it," Legolas explained. "The gardener...I cannot stand to be near him as he constantly ridicules me."

Gimli patted his friend's arm in consolation. The gardener did have a rather abrasive personality, and he could fully understand why the elf would want to avoid the man and all his mocking comments.

Faramir shook his head. "You are quite the pair," he said in an amused tone. "Very well, if neither of you dare face the gardener I shall go for you."

The friends brightened. "Really?" Legolas beamed.

"Yes, but," Faramir held up one finger.

"There is something we can do for you," elf and dwarf finished simultaneously.


The Sixth Link...

"I think I would have rather faced the gardener," Legolas groaned. "I know, I know," he held his hands up as Gimli glared at him. "Itching powder."

Gimli shook his head. "How could Faramir have forgotten something so important?" he asked.

"I do not know," Legolas replied, "but I believe I would rather face the combined wrath of Lady Eowyn and the gardener himself than this."

The dwarf groaned in agreement. "There he is," he whispered, pointing to a small figure chatting amiably with one of the guards.

Legolas squared his shoulders. "The good news is he's small enough that we should be relatively safe," he muttered.

Gimli shook his head. "I'll stand over here, if you don't mind," he muttered.

"Oh, no," Legolas grabbed the dwarf by the arm. "You're coming with me."

The dwarf chuckled. "Afraid to face a hobbit?" he asked.

"When mushrooms are involved," Legolas retorted.

"True," Gimli nodded. "Suppose he'd take a bit of pipe-weed instead?"

Legolas stared down at the dwarf in amazement. "You don't know much about hobbits, do you?"

The dwarf shook his head. "Best get it over with," he said with a sigh.

"Pippin!" Legolas called.

The hobbit glanced over and saw the elf and dwarf, and happily bade the guard he was speaking with goodbye to run over to his friends. "Legolas! Gimli!" he shouted, launching himself at the elf and nearly knocking the slender being over. Gimli laughed and heartily slapped the hobbit on the back.

"Easy, Lad," he said. "You just saw us at breakfast."

Pippin grinned. "But that was hours ago. Speaking of breakfast, I'm hungry...want to come with me to find something to eat?"

"Pippin," Legolas gently restrained the hobbit. "We came to tell you something."

Gimli coughed. "We?"

Legolas glared at his friend. "All right. I came to tell you something."

The hobbit glanced between the elf and dwarf with a concerned expression on his face. "All right," he said slowly. "What is it?"

Kneeling in the grass to be on eye level with the hobbit, Legolas hedged over how to begin. "Pippin, you know how Faramir promised to send one of the servants for mushrooms for lunch?"

Pippin beamed. "Oh yes!" he exclaimed. "And he said I could have as many as I want!"

"Well," Legolas glanced over at Gimli for moral support. "He asked me to relay the message to the servants and I...forgot."

The hobbit stared at the elf as though he hadn't heard him correctly. "You forgot?" he said slowly.

"Aye," Legolas nodded. "I got distracted by other tasks."

"Like misplacing silver platters and muddying the fountain," Gimli muttered under his breath.

Pippin sighed. "That's all right, I guess," he said sadly. "They're only mushrooms."

Gimli clapped a hand on Pippin's back, clearly enjoying Legolas' discomfort far too much. "I'm sure Legolas would be happy to find some more for dinner," he said with a grin in the elf's direction.

The elf glared at the dwarf, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Gimli's eyes widened.

"Well, we'd best be off," he said hastily, turning to leave but halting mid-step as Legolas caught a hold of his tunic.

"I'm very sorry I forgot about the mushrooms," Legolas said seriously. "Is there something I can do to make it up for you?"

"You could get mushrooms for dinner," Pippin offered.

"Aye, and I shall," Legolas nodded, figuring that Faramir was already planning on doing so. "Is there something I could before lunch, though?"

Pippin frowned in thought. "I know!" he exclaimed brightly. "I accidentally spilled some wine in the parlor last night...in front of the fireplace where Arwen keeps her big vase."

Legolas and Gimli winced at the mention of the vase, but Pippin didn't notice.

"It left a stain on the rug, so I turned the rug over to hide it because I didn't want Arwen to be angry with me that I ruined her rug."

"I can understand that," Gimli muttered.

"Could you tell her you spilled it? She wouldn't be so mad with you."

Gimli groaned audibly, but Legolas simply smiled at the hobbit. "I would be happy to," he said cheerfully, standing up. "Or, at least, someone would," he added lowly.


The Seventh Link...

"Don't even say it!" Gimli declared, already stomping down the hall to the royal chambers. "I don't want to hear a word about itching powder. I will tell Arwen that I spilled the wine on the rug, and then you can do the favor for her."

Legolas practically had to jog to keep up with the dwarf's pace. "Why do you think she'll need a favor?" he asked. "She's the queen...she's Arwen, what could she have possibly done?"

The dwarf grumbled something in his own language under his breath. "This is the last time, Elf," he said gruffly. "I will not keep doing this all day."

"Gimli," Legolas stopped the dwarf with a hand on his shoulder. "Just remember that this is all your fault."

"My fault!" the dwarf exploded. "You broke the vase!"

"You dared me to pick it up!"

"I did not! I simply said it was too unwieldy for you to hold."

"Gimli!"

The dwarf growled in frustration, stomping down the hall.

"Gimli!" Legolas sprinted to catch up with his friend. "Settle down, Arwen will think something terrible has happened if you go storming in there like that."

Gimli sighed. "You're right," he assented, stopping to take a breath and calm himself. It was just a spot on the rug...he would have gladly covered up for Pippin in any case, as the hobbit still felt awkward around so many big people.

"Lady Arwen?" Gimli called, peeking into her parlor. "I don't think she's in there," he whispered back at Legolas.

The elf frowned and poked his head into the parlor. "She should be here...where else would she be?"

"Perhaps in the throne room?"

"Aragorn isn't holding court this morning," Legolas shook his head. "Arwen?" he called.

"Yes?"

Elf and dwarf whirled around to come face to face with the Queen of Gondor. "Did you need something?" Arwen asked sweetly, smiling at her friends.

Legolas smiled in return. "Gimli has something he wishes to say," he explained, pushing the dwarf forward.

"Let's not stand out here in the hall," the queen commented, gesturing for the elf and dwarf to precede her into the parlor. "Now, Master Gimli," Arwen began, sitting sedately on one of the chairs in the room. "What did you want to say?"

"The parlor just off the dining room," Gimli said, pausing and shaking his head.

Arwen's brow furrowed in confusion. "What about it?"

"There is a small rug in front of the fireplace," the dwarf continued. "Last night I...I..." he took a deep breath. No matter what he had said or thought earlier, it was still difficult to lie to Arwen. "I spilled some wine on the rug, and turned it over to hide the stain."

The queen smiled gently. "I'm sure it will wash, Master Gimli. Why did you not come to me immediately, or inform one of the maids?"

Gimli glanced over at Legolas, who looked back at him coolly. The dwarf cursed inwardly—the least the elf could have done was offer some suggestion. "I was afraid you'd be angry," he finally said, using Pippin's reasoning.

Arwen laughed merrily. "You, Master Gimli? Afraid of me?"

"The wrath of the Evenstar is something to behold," Legolas interjected with a playful smile.

The queen rolled her eyes at her old friend. "Come, Gimli, I would not be angry with you for a simple stain on a rug. It can be washed, and if not it is merely a rug and not something worth losing your friendship over."

Gimli sighed in relief. "Thank you, Arwen."

The she-elf smiled beatifically. "I can forgive you spilling on the rug," she said, her tone indicating that she had more to say. "However, I cannot so easily forget that you covered it up."

The dwarf groaned and glanced over at Legolas. The elf looked down and Gimli smiled inwardly. "What is your punishment, My Lady?" he asked, hoping it was something terribly difficult, or at least humiliating.

"Oh, just a small favor," Arwen said lightly.


The Final Link...

"I want you to tell Aragorn that you put itching powder in his tunic at the banquet last week."

"But I didn't!" Gimli exclaimed. Aragorn had already questioned the dwarf, Legolas, Elladan and Elrohir, the hobbits, and even Faramir to try to discover who had pulled that prank.

"I know," Arwen laughed merrily. "I did."

Elf and dwarf stared at the queen. "You?" Legolas asked incredulously.

Arwen grinned mischievously. "You didn't think my brothers were the only ones who could pull a prank, did you?"

Gimli laughed heartily. "Ah, Legolas," he said with a devious smile. "Arwen is right. I shall have to take the blame for this."

"No," Legolas shook his head. "No, I will not."

"But Legolas!" Gimli exclaimed. "It's only fair!"

"I don't care," the elf argued hotly. "I refuse to tell Aragorn that. You can tell him yourself."

The queen stared at her friends with an odd expression. "What is going on?"

"But I told Arwen about the stain on the rug!"

"And I told Pippin about the mushrooms!"

"I told Faramir about the mud in the fountain!"

"You did not! Anyway, I took the horse to the blacksmith!"

"I told Eowyn about the platter!"

"I told the cooks I stole the pastries!"

"I told Aragorn about the vase!"

"The vase!" Legolas shouted. "That cursed vase!"

He sprang to his feet, an odd light in his eyes. "Come with me," he said, grabbing Arwen and Gimli and pulling them after him.

"Where are we going?" Arwen protested as Legolas practically dragged them down the hall.

"To do something I should have done in the first place!" Legolas called back.

He threw open the door to Aragorn's study and pushed Arwen and Gimli inside. Arwen glanced over at Legolas in concern, but the wood-elf's mind wasn't on itching powder at the moment.

"Aragorn," Legolas slapped both his hands on the desk, leaning forward to meet the king's eye. "I have to confess something."

The man looked up with an amused expression. "You put the itching powder in my tunic, didn't you?"

"No!" the elf shouted. "It's about the vase."

"The vase?"

"The vase. I broke it."

Aragorn smiled and leaned back. "I know."

Legolas stared incredulously, glancing over to see a similar expression on Gimli's face and one of outright confusion on Arwen's. "You know?" he asked.

"I was walking past the parlor when Gimli dared you."

Legolas sat back, missing the chair behind him and landing on the floor with an astonished thump. "You knew?" he asked in shock.

"Aye," Aragorn laughed. "I'm afraid you've gotten all worked up over nothing."

The elf buried his face in his hands with a groan. "I don't believe this," he muttered.

"Excuse me," Arwen stepped forward. "What vase?"

"The big one," Aragorn explained with a grin. "In the parlor near the dining room."

Arwen's eyes widened. "The one with the flowering vines and animals painted on it?"

"The very same."

Legolas looked up, mistaking the look on Arwen's face. "I am sorry, Arwen," he said softly.

To his and Gimli's astonishment, the queen burst out laughing. "Legolas, I bought that vase from a shop in the city because I thought it would look nice with the other vases. It was not terribly important to me."

"Still," Legolas climbed to his feet, ignoring the dwarf's chuckles. "I would be happy to find a replacement for you."

Arwen laughed. "It shouldn't be too hard...the potter had four others just like it."

Legolas groaned again, collapsing in a chair while Gimli fell against the wall in hysterics. All that fuss...for nothing.

"I hope you learned something today, mellon-nin," Aragorn commented, a smile playing across his lips."

"Aye," Legolas nodded, shooting a glare at the still-laughing Gimli. "Never take a dare from a dwarf."

Aragorn laughed heartily, and Legolas joined in as Gimli spluttered something in protest.

"Now," Aragorn raised a hand to catch his wife's and his friends' attention. "Which one of you really put the itching powder in my tunic?"

The End


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Note: When my dad was a kid he told my uncle that my grandmother had said he (my uncle) wasn't allowed to pick up the vase in the hall because he was too little to hold it. Naturally, my uncle had to prove he wasn't too little and picked it up anyway, dropping it and breaking it, of course. My dad did get his share of the punishment for (essentially) daring my uncle to pick the vase up, though.