Offering Nothing More Than Tears
By Nieriel Raina
Year 14, Fourth Age
Somewhere between Ithilien and Erebor
Legolas paid no attention to the terrain that flew by around him as he rode through the night. The large gray horse moved effortlessly, a light sweat covering its body. Soon, Legolas would let Celedae rest a short time, but for now, he encouraged his mount on in the darkness. Much ground needed to be covered this night, and the horse was in no mood to stop either.
The message had come several days ago, and Legolas had quickly dispatched a message of his own to Minas Tirith. He had thrown basic necessities into his pack, grabbed his weapons, whistled for Celedae and was gone in less than half an hour from the time of the messenger's arrival. He left the elves of Ithilien shaking their heads, wondering what emergency had called their lord away so quickly that he had not even taken the time to change from his work soiled clothing.
Clean clothing was not something Legolas was concerned about with his need for haste. Besides, he had clean clothes in his pack and would have an opportunity to bathe and change along the way when he stopped to let his horse rest. The important thing right now was to reach his destination quickly. He could not arrive too late. His friend needed him.
This was a change. Legolas usually needed his friends to help him stay anchored in Middle-earth, rather than sailing West. The sea longing got stronger over time, many times becoming almost unbearable, yet he enjoyed his life in Ithilien, restoring what had been damaged over the years of darkness. The frequent visits with his closest friends drove the longing to the back of his mind, and when it forced itself to the front, his friends made sure he did not suffer alone. Regular visits between them offered solace to his tortured heart.
So now, Legolas would return the care given to him. He would be there for his dear friend, just as Gimli had been there for him. A small smile played across his face as he remembered a time the dwarf had not been a friend, but rather almost an enemy. His smile faded to a frown as he remembered the beginnings of that friendship. It had been founded in shared grief.
The loss of Gandalf in Moria had hit all of them hard and wounded them deeply. In Lothlórien, Aragorn and Boromir tried to deal with their own grief, as well as attempting to help the hobbits cope with the loss. Legolas, who would have turned to Aragorn at such a time, found his friend occupied with heartbroken halflings. This left Legolas and Gimli alone in their grief, until they silently began to walk together.
For Legolas, seeing Gimli in a new light had begun in Balin's tomb in Moria. He had been surprised at the intensity of the dwarf's emotions at the loss of his kin. Seeing the dwarf frozen in grief, Legolas had acted, pulling Gimli out, thus saving his life. But something had happened when he grabbed Gimli and pulled him out of there – something neither could deny, but both did not wish to admit.
So they said nothing, just walked the woods of Lórien together, yet alone in their grief – grief that proved to be too much for Legolas. Gandalf's death was not a concept Legolas could easily fathom. It reminded him too much of another death, a death with which he had not yet come to terms – the death of his mother.
So it was, not many days after arriving as they walked the paths of the Golden Wood, Legolas sank to his knees, unable to continue holding in his grief. As he knelt there, head bowed, tears streaming down his face, Gimli knelt next to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. "I've heard elves do not deal well with grief, being the immortal creatures you are, yet it would seem more than Gandalf's loss is causing you such deep pain. Who else have you lost that your heart pains so?"
Gimli's wise observation and simple question loosened Legolas's tongue, and a torrent of memories flowed from his heart. There on that path, alone with only a dwarf to comfort him, Legolas grieved not only the loss of the wizard, but the loss of his mother as well. Gimli had continued to kneel next to him, the dwarf's hand on Legolas's shoulder. The dwarf had said nothing, only listened as tears of his own soaked into his beard.
From that day on the two were inseparable, and the rest of the Fellowship were amazed at the change in the two who had seemed to hate each other before. The friendship that began by learning to comfort and accept each other grew rapidly through the War of the Ring and beyond.
Now, his closest friend was in pain – a pain Legolas understood only too well, though it had been many years since he had experienced it himself. He would be there for his friend, support him through the loss, cry with him at his side, and help him go on.
Gimli's mother was dying. The message from Aglarond had stated Gimli had headed immediately to the Lonely Mountain upon receiving word. The dwarf had asked for a message to be sent to Legolas, requesting the elf's presence in Erebor in this time of sorrow. Legolas had not hesitated. He did not have to stop and think; he simply acted.
Now he was traveling the long distance towards the Lonely Mountain alone. Legolas knew it was unlikely Aragorn would be able to make the trip as well, though he had sent word to the king in any case. Only one thing mattered to the elf right now; he must make it there in time. Gimli needed him.
He arrived just before dusk, many days after setting out on his journey. Legolas grabbed his pack and quietly spoke to Celedae, letting the horse wander at will. Legolas turned towards the entrance to the mountain and strode quickly to it. Fear gripped his heart, and he silently prayed he was in time. His long strides brought him quickly to the door in the mountain where he was halted by a guard. A frown marred the dwarf's features, and Legolas was quick to inquire of Gimli's mother.
Recognizing Legolas upon the elf's inquiry, the guard informed Legolas that she still lived, but not for long. Gimli's mother was older than Glóin, and her age was taking its toll; it would not be long before she passed. He sent for another dwarf who led Legolas through the passages before stopping at a door, banging loudly upon it.
A few moments passed before the door slowly opened. Gimli's eyes slid up to Legolas's face, and a look of shock flashed in the dwarf's eyes. It was quickly replaced by a look of relief, and Gimli allowed his friend a small smile. "You have come even more quickly than I would have thought, Legolas. Thank you." Gimli's voice was low and gruff with emotion, dark shadows lingering under his eyes.
Legolas bowed his head to his friend, and Gimli motioned him into the room behind him. The door clicked shut and Gimli turned to face him. Legolas, unsure of exactly what to say, placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. The dwarf looked up and nodded. "I am glad you are here, though I fear I will not be good company for many days. The healers give her a day, two at the most." The dwarf's voice broke slightly and he brushed at his eyes in irritation, then lowered his head.
Legolas noted his friend's reluctance to show his grief. "I am sorry," Legolas said softly. "She is a wonderful person. It grieves me to see her go…and to see you in such pain."
"Thank you," Gimli murmured, eyes downcast. "Will you see her?"
"I would be honored to see your mother again." Legolas assured him.
Gimli led them to another room, where Glóin stood next to a bed where Sefa lay quietly. Legolas nodded to him before turning his eyes upon the elderly dwarf-woman. He met her eyes, which were still bright, and smiled at her.
"It is good of you…to come." Sefa whispered.
Legolas took her hand gently and bent to kiss her forehead. "It is good to see you again, good mother. You could not have kept me away."
She smiled at him and reached up ever so slowly and patted Legolas's cheek. "Promise you will keep him out of trouble…for me?" she whispered.
Legolas nodded, fighting his own tears. This woman had become dear to him over the years. She had accepted him immediately after the war, and when she had learned his mother had died long ago, she had mothered him as only a dwarf could, which was very good indeed.
"I promise. I will even make sure he washes regularly," Legolas teased, drawing a smile and chuckle from both Sefa and Gimli.
Legolas smiled again, blinking rapidly, and released her hand. After speaking with her softly for a few more minutes, he moved into the background, making himself available but allowing the family to have their last hours together.
It was almost morning. Legolas was sitting quietly in the first room – a room with soft chairs and a fire in the heart – when he heard a wail come from the other room. It was followed by sounds of weeping. He stood and made his way back to the bedroom door. Unsure of exactly what to do in such a situation, he hesitated entering the bedroom. Grief was a terrible emotion for elves, and he felt it keenly with the passing of his friend's mother. Legolas took a deep breath and reached for the door handle.
It opened before his hand made contact. Gimli stepped out, his eyes brimming with unshed tears. The dwarf did not meet his eyes but slipped quickly past him into the sitting room. Legolas blinked before turning and following, stopping just inside the room. He stood there, watching his friend's back. Gimli simply stood there, stiffly looking straight ahead at nothing.
Legolas waited, watching his friend, wondering how he could help. Remembering the dwarf's earlier irritation and hesitance at revealing his emotions, he finally knew just what to say. "You said you would not be good company, Gimli, but I did not come for company." Legolas spoke of the dwarf's words from the night before. "I came to help…however I can, even if that is simply crying with you, elvellon."
Legolas walked over to Gimli and stood quietly behind him. He lifted a hand to Gimli's shoulder, even as tears trickled down his own cheeks. He squeezed slightly with his fingers, offering his support.
Standing there, Gimli was reminded of a time long ago. Only then, it had been his hand on the elf's shoulder. He had simply stood by Legolas, offering nothing more than tears of his own, as he listened to a grieving elf. Now, he knew Legolas would do the same. There was no shame in letting his friend see his tears. He lowered his head and let them fall.
Legolas moved and knelt before him, pulling him into an embrace. Gimli allowed it and wept a long time on the elf's shoulder, before pulling away and wiping his face with a sleeve. Legolas left his hand on Gimli's shoulder as the tears continued to fall.
Gimli's voice broke as he spoke, "It would seem all I can say this day is 'thank you'." He looked openly into his friend's face and his expression turned to wonder as he realized the elf was weeping as well.
Legolas swallowed and wiped his own eyes. He shook his head slightly, "No, there is no need to say anything this day. We will grieve together, and I will do whatever needs to be done that you cannot."
Gimli searched the elf's eyes, seeing the sincerity and determination there. He nodded and lifted his hand to Legolas's shoulder. Looking into the eyes of the closest friend either had ever had, they shared their grief. Both heads tilted forward until their foreheads rested against the other and their tears mingled as they fell to the floor.
Several days later, the two friends stood next to the family's burial chamber deep in the mountain. All the formal words had been spoken, and the words had been carved into the stone tomb as a memorial. All others had left the family to their grief, and even Glóin had departed to seek solace elsewhere. Only Legolas and Gimli remained, silently standing together, one of the elf's hands lightly resting on the dwarf's shoulder, where it had been often these last days.
After a time, Gimli wiped his eyes and cleared his throat. "I could never have done this without you here," he told Legolas quietly. "You have gone beyond the bonds of friendship these last days. I have lost my mother, but I have gained a brother." He lifted his eyes to meet the elf's bright gray gaze.
"And I as well, Gimli." Legolas tightened his grip on Gimli's shoulder and managed half a smile. Gimli reached up and covered the elf's hand with his own.
"I wish not to dishonor your traditions, but if it is acceptable, may I add one thing?" Legolas asked.
Gimli's eyes widened in question, and the elf smiled as he lifted his other hand. In it he held a small bouquet of flowers. Gimli did not know how he had missed that detail before, but he found himself smiling and nodding.
"Aye. She would like that, I think." Gimli watched as the elf moved forward and laid the flowers on top of the stone lid of the cairn. Legolas took a step back and brought a hand to his chest, bowing his head and saying the traditional elvish words before extending his hand towards the tomb. Then he turned and retraced his steps to the Gimli's side.
Their eyes met briefly before they turned and walked slowly away, their friendship only stronger once again through shared tears.
Sefa – Old Norse name meaning "calm, self-possessed, tranquil, gentle, leisurely"