Written for the Middle Earth Express Prompt #35:Birthday at the Aragorn Angst Yahoo Group
By Nieriel Raina
Year 6, Fourth Age
The sound of music and laughter overflowed from the large ornate doors leading to the main hall of the Citadel, where festive banners lined the walls. Appetizing cuisine of every imagining filled tables, while kegs of ale and bottles of fine wine flowed freely. Ladies in sparkling gowns twirled like gemstones on the dance floor as noble men in dashing attire swung them about the room to the lively tunes. It was a magnificent party, a celebration fit for a king! And well it should be, for today was the first of March, and all of Minas Tirith was celebrating King Elessar's birthday.
Standing off to the side of the room, about half way between the tables laden with delectable foods and the tables holding the ale and wine, two different sort of folk stood side by side, watching the festivities. The taller of the two cocked his head slightly to the side and a puzzled look settling over his features. He looked down at his shorter, burlier companion who was guzzling ale from a large mug.
"I fail to understand the significance of this celebration, Gimli," he declared as he sipped his own wine, his eyes warily drifting over the group of unattended ladies across the way that seemed to be hovering ever nearer to his companion and himself.
The dwarf lowered his mug and blinked, looking up in surprise at the golden-haired elf. "It is common among our kinds to celebrate the day we entered the world. Is it not thus with the elves, Legolas?"
"Nay," the elf replied almost casually, somewhat distracted by his thoughts on birthday celebrations and unwed ladies who resembled vultures waiting for a beast to take its last breath. "The day of one's birth is not significant to us for it is not the beginning of our lives. Life begins with its creation, not the advent of birth."
This statement seemed to pause Gimli a moment. "Yes, well it is not as if one can be exactly sure WHEN such an occurrence takes place. A birthday is a sure date, rather than a simple guess," he stated with a smart incline of his head to emphasize his words.
Legolas, in the midst of swallowing another mouthful of wine, choked. Coughing, he looked at his companion in shock, his bright grey eyes wide he contemplated what the dwarf had just said. "A guess? Why must you guess as to the day of your begetting?" he asked incredulous.
The dwarf stared at the elf for a moment as if his pointed ears had suddenly sprouted wings. "Legolas, surely you do not need me to explain such things to you? I am aware that you are unmarried, but surely your father informed you how such things occur?"
The elf narrowed his eyes and glared at his friend. "I am quite aware how life begins, Master Dwarf! But I must wonder if you share such awareness as to be unsure of such an important date as one's begetting day!"
"Why you pointy-eared…" Gimli completed his thought with a colorful insult, capturing the attention of several guests nearby.
In a matter of minutes, the two friends' voices had raised greatly, their 'debate' over the matter drawing a small crowd, and the attention of the guest of honor. The king strode towards his loudly arguing friends, shaking his head slightly in irritation. What now? He wondered.
"My friends!" Aragorn cut in, not waiting for the elf and dwarf to pause for breath. "Is there some reason you must disrupt my birthday celebrations with such language? Surely whatever disagreement you have can be settled later, without so many…witnesses."
"Nay, Aragorn!" Gimli protested. "This matter is ABOUT such celebrations!" The dwarf turned his dark eyes on the king. "This Elf seems to think that one should not celebrate the day of their birth, but rather the day of their begetting! As if it is possible to know such things! BAH! Utter nonsense!"
"Gimli…" Aragorn tried to explain, but his voice was drowned out by an incensed elven prince.
"NONSENSE?! How difficult is it to know when you have created a new life? Such things are not difficult to know, Gimli!" Legolas fumed, grey eyes flashing as he took a step towards the dwarf.
"And how many new lives have you created, Legolas?" The dwarf questioned in a loud voice, his eyebrows rose in suspicion.
The elf had enough decorum to blush slightly and look affronted. "As you have already stated, I am unmarried! Such an act would bind me to another, therefore the answer is none!"
"HA! Then you are not such an expert on the subject! You cannot know the exact date! Unless…I knew the elves kept detailed records, Legolas, but surely you do not write down every time…"
Legolas gasped in horror. "NAY! Not every time, only when a child is conceived! It is a special record, held dear by the parents…" Legolas lowered his head as a sudden sheen covered his eyes. "My father cherishes the official record of my conception, and the memories it brings of my mother…."
Gimli frowned at the sudden change in the elf's emotions. Blast it all! Just like the Elf to get all sentimental over a good argument! But he stepped forward, nevertheless, and laid a hand on the elf's arm. "I did not mean to insult your traditions, Legolas, or to bring up pain from the past. I was jesting. I just do not understand how you can be so sure of when a coupling has produced a child."
Raking a hand through his long hair, Legolas sighed in exasperation, all trace of the wetness gone from his eyes. He looked at the dwarf superciliously. "And I do not understand how you can be so ignorant in such simple matters."
Gimli's beard bristled and his eyes flashed at the insult. He growled a response in Khuzdul, which Legolas apparently understood, for he countered it with a Sindarin curse. The elf and dwarf began once more trading insult for colorful insult, bringing smiles to the faces of those who knew the two friends well, while concern and distress marked the faces of those who did not know of the strange rituals the peculiar friends shared.
Aragorn watched it unfold with a mixture of vexation and amusement. Around him, those listening to the bickering duo exuded laughter or gasps of astonishment. Finally, the man had all he could take of the disruption to his birthday celebration. He should be dancing and laughing with his beautiful wife, who he noticed was watching the unfolding scene with bemused eyes hidden behind her wine glass, not arbitrating a debate between a stubborn dwarf and impossible elf!
"ENOUGH!" The King of Gondor bellowed. The whole room went silent for a few heartbeats as Aragorn grabbed Legolas' sleeve and Gimli's tunic, dragging them from the room to a nearby balcony which overlooked the courtyard where the White Tree stood, seemingly glowing in the moonlight. Behind them, whisperings and laughing began anew, though many eyes continued to stray to the balcony doorway where the Three Hunters had disappeared.
As soon as the king released them, Legolas and Gimli turned to look at Aragorn, who was trying very hard to look annoyed despite the chuckles threatening to break forth. The man took a deep breath and adopted his best 'Elrond-is-angry' look, before addressing the issue at hand.
"While I appreciate the differences between the two of you and your need to settle them in your own manner, I will not have you disrupting the festivities to do so. Therefore," Aragorn raised a brow, managing a look that would have had his brothers in fits of laughter, "we will settle the matter here, and return to the party with no further incidents. Understood?"
Legolas and Gimli exchanged an astounded glance, but both nodded somberly. Legolas raised an eyebrow of his own, reminding all present of his royal heritage. "Very well, my lord. Please, enlighten us on the matter, so that we may return to our usual merry selves and enjoy the rest of this…entertaining evening."
"Aye, laddie. Set the record straight, for I would like to get back to my ale and some of that roast venison, while the elf here is just itching to ask the lasses to dance!"
"Nay, I am not!" Legolas blanched at the thought. "I refuse! I will not be held captive by their giggling and …."
"Ahem," The king cleared his throat, once again reminding them of the matter at hand. "I am sure the ladies would love a dance with BOTH of you, but that is not the issue we are discussing. I believe the matter was begetting versus birthday celebrations and whether or not such days could be known for certain."
"Nay, Aragorn, the issue of birthdays has been agreed upon from start…it is whether or not one can be sure of their begetting day which we were discussing." Legolas corrected the king, earning him a dry look from narrowed steely eyes.
"Aye, how is it Legolas can be so sure of his begetting day, when you and I know our parents could not have known such a thing?" Gimli inquired. Bright grey elven eyes and dark brown dwarven ones held the King in their gaze as they waited patiently for an answer.
Aragorn sighed heavily. Finally! We will end this ridiculous deliberation! Calmly, the man began addressing the issue at hand. "Gimli, elves are different from mortals in regard to begetting young. In order to conceive, both father and mother must wish for a child, and they can feel the new life the moment it is created, for parental bonds are strong among the elves from the moment of conception. Thus they DO know the exact moment when their children were conceived."
With his explanation given, the King waited for the outburst of indignation from the dwarf and the smug remarks from the elf. Instead, Gimli's mouth hung open in shock, and he blinked a couple times before closing his mouth and looking expectantly at Legolas, waiting for his friend to respond.
Legolas' eyes brightened in curiosity even as his face took on a skeptical look. "Mortals do NOT know…? How then…?" Bewildered grey eyes searched Aragorn's and Gimli's faces by turn.
The man smiled slowly, sympathetic to his friend's confusion. "Nay, my friend, for us, conception is similar to many animals, though I dare say that is not an exact representation of the process."
The elf shook his head in bafflement. "…like animals…I never…"
Gimli began to grin at the look upon Legolas' face. He could almost see the elf's mind working over this piece of news. Unsurprisingly, Legolas began to blush. "If you will excuse me, I believe I need a glass of wine."
As Legolas walked swiftly back inside the hall, the man and dwarf broke into loud guffaws, holding their sides as they fought for air. Neither heard the elf's last words, muttered under his breath as he strode to the nearest bottle of strong Dorwinion.
"I always thought they bred like rabbits."
This fic has developed into something much greater…enjoy!