Disclaimer: I do not own any of Tolkien's work…obviously.


Birthday Celebrations

Chapter 8

A Successful Birthday Celebration After All

The library was completely silent. Not a sound could be heard, and unless one saw the elf leaning quietly against the back of a small sofa, no one would know he was there. A slight frown creased his fair brow and his eyes strayed over the dark shadows in the far recesses of the room. To an observer is would appear that he was deep in thought.

Then he smiled. "Get your miserable dwarven rear in here, Gimli, or are you planning to hide in the shadows all night?"

Across the room, the dwarf stepped sheepishly through a doorway hidden in the shadows. He smirked at the elf. "How long did you know I was there, elf?"

Legolas grinned. "From the moment I heard you stomp up to it, dwarf. I think it is safe to say that I am the only one who heard you…" He paused and smirked himself. "Your breathing always gives you away as well."

"What would you have me do, suffocate?" Gimli quipped, eyeing the elf suspiciously.

The elf's smile faded somewhat. The dwarf was not fooled by his jests. "I would have you not eavesdropping, Gimli. Could you not trust me to handle the matter?"

Frowning, the dwarf walked over and sat on the couch facing the elf's back. Legolas turned, propping himself against the back of the opposite couch with his arms and waited patiently for the dwarf to answer.

Gimli sat thoughtfully, stroking his beard. Looking up he met the elf's eyes evenly. "Wasn't you I didn't trust, elf. It was her…but it seems I misjudged the lass." The dwarf stilled his hand and leaned slightly forward, one arm across his knees as the other pointed at the elf. "You…" he smiled and dropped the hand. "I admit it. I'm impressed. You handled that with grace and dignity. I'd have killed her without finding out the poor girl was suffering so."

Legolas returned the smile and inclined his head in acceptance of the rare complement. His grey eyes glittered in the torchlight. "If she had continued with such actions or accusations, I might have allowed you to bring your ax into the situation…if I did not do it myself. No one questions my honor," the elf finished stubbornly.

"Hmmph," the dwarf agreed. Then he beamed at his friend. "Well Legolas, you've been the perfect gentleman for most of the night, charming the ladies and what not. It's high time we rejoined the festivities. I say we challenge Faramir to a drinking game…you up to that?"

The elf smirked. "I'll drink you both under the table," he determined.

"Probably, but I could stand being good and drunk after all this," Gimli told him, standing to his feet.

Legolas straightened and started walking towards the door behind his friend, frowning. "But then I will have to listen to you moan and complain about your aching head in the morn…after being unable to sleep from your intolerable snoring! That awful noise penetrates the stone walls, I will have you know!"

"Are you going to drink with me or not, elf?" The dwarf grumbled, stopping to glare at his friend.

Halting his own steps, the elf narrowed his eyes at his friend. "Aye, but I'm not drinking ale!"

"Agh," Gimli blanched. "It's your choice, but… Fine, I'll drink your bitter wine, but YOU have to get Faramir to agree to the contest." Gimli crossed his arms and lifted his chin defiantly.

"Done."

The two friends grinned at each other, and continued out of the library and down the hall towards the celebration which was still going strong.

ooo

As soon as they reentered the main hall, Aragorn motioned them over to where he stood alongside Arwen and Faramir, watching the dancing couples. Gimli quickly picked out Lady Rodwen and Commander Arnien sweeping across the floor. He grinned at the elf standing at his side. "You should ask the lady to dance again, Legolas. Show her there are no hard feelings…though the other vultures might take that to mean they are free to prey upon you!"

Legolas paled, but replied calmly, "The ladies are not vultures, Gimli. I wonder how many others are under a similar kind of pressure from their fathers…I will speak with Lady Rodwen openly, and that should still most of the wagging tongues."

Gimli winked, "Then you will dance again?"

Grinning, Legolas chanced a glance at the King. "I think I would like another dance… My Lady?" He held his hand out towards Arwen, offering her a charming smile.

Aragorn frowned, "Legolas, there are dozens of single ladies just waiting for you to ask them to dance. Must you dance with my wife?"

"Yes!" Legolas answered as the Queen laughed and took his hand, smiling over her shoulder at her disgruntled husband. "I am sorry, my love. Duty calls." Laughing, the prince swirled her out onto the floor as the King of Gondor pouted.

"I was to have the next dance," he complained.

"Oh, come off it, laddie. Let the princeling have his fun…" Gimli chastised the man. "She will soon be back in your arms, and I'll have the elf up to his pointed ears in Dorwinion. I've never seen him so much as tipsy, and I do believe it is well overdue," Gimli grinned at the King, who to his chagrin, beamed back at him.

"That is quite a sight, I warn will warn you. But how do you plan to stay sober long enough to see it?" Aragorn asked curiously, his wife momentarily forgotten.

"YOU'VE see the elf intoxicated?" The dwarf sputtered indignantly.

"Indeed, I have, though only once, but I have heard stories, my friend, from my brothers…and my wife!" The King laughed at the look on the dwarf's face. "But again I ask, how do you plan to remain sober to see it. Dorwinion is extremely strong, Gimli. It is one of the few drinks which can affect a wood elf…"

Behind him, Faramir raised a curious brow of his own at the conversation. "A drinking game?" he asked. When Gimli nodded, the man smirked. "Ah, Master Dwarf, you are planning to switch your drink, I wager."

Gimli chuckled deeply. "Indeed I do! And you must join us Faramir. Together we will drink the elf under the table! Come, we shall need to find some grape juice to substitute for wine."

Faramir bowed grandly and swept his arm out, "After you, Master Deceiver. I shall enjoy this immensely."

"And I shall enjoy watching the elf put you both in your places. He will not fall for it," Aragorn declared with amusement.

"We shall see," Gimli told him. "We shall see…"

ooo

"I admire you, Legolas. What you did was very gracious. You could have easily asked for her to be formally punished," Arwen remarked as they danced.

"Better to see her changed…and happy. I hold no hard feelings against Lady Rodwen. She understands what she did and the repercussions. While the commander was kind enough to ask her to dance, it will be some time before any young man dares to pursue her. Her friends will also speak of her harshly. She does not have an easy time ahead of her. That is punishment enough." Legolas smiled into the queen's eyes as she shook her head in amusement.

"You are truly one of a kind, my friend. But one day, you will meet your match. When that day comes…" She laughed at him when he paled.

"Let us not speak any more of ladies this night!" he declared firmly, a warning look in his eye. When the dance came to a close, the prince led the Queen back towards her husband. "I must speak to Lady Rodwen briefly, and then I believe I have a drinking game to win. I must find the Steward and convince him to join us."

"A drinking game?" She smiled mischievously at him and pulled him to a stop. "I believe you and I have a rematch of our own long overdue…"

Legolas grinned. "Aye, but your brothers are not here, my Lady." His eyes twinkled with mirth.

"I believe they were passed out when we called the game…the rematch is between you and I!" Arwen replied and laughed heartily when he smirked.

"The King may not appreciate his wife, the Queen, joining such activities during his birthday celebrations…but who am I to exclude you, if you insist on joining in with us?" Legolas asked, bowing grandly to her.

She smacked him soundly on the arm. "I do," she insisted. "Go speak to the Lady, and I will find our good Steward and convince him to join us as well. We shall meet in the far corner."

"As you wish, my Lady!" Legolas bowed again, and went to seek out Lady Rodwen.

ooo

The King of Gondor was quite miffed. His wife smiled up at him, but as soon as he lifted the lady into his arms, she fell sound asleep against his shoulder. 'So much for further celebrations,' he fumed, glaring at the elf who was blinking at him in confusion.

"I dunna unnerstand," Legolas garbled. "She onl' ha' m'be se'en. Or wassit eight?" He shrugged. "I tole 'er not to do it, Es'el," he slurred, smiling slightly at the man. His head lolled to one side and he stared at the Steward and dwarf smiling smugly at him. "You though' I didn' know you switch' yer drink, huh?" the elf grinned, when they both frowned. "Ne'er try to foola elf."

Aragorn began to chuckle, despite his soundly sleeping and intoxicated wife. They had, after all, been discreet and moved into a side room for their game. When the elf tried to stand, the man began to laugh harder. Legolas could not quite keep his balance and was swaying from side to side. "Gimli, I think our friend might require some assistance."

When the prince began to sink towards the floor, the dwarf hurried to his side and steadied him. "Come, Legolas. I will help you to your room. I think you will sleep well tonight, my friend."

Blinking sleepily at the dwarf, Legolas asked, "Will you sing me t' s'eep?"

"Will I what….?" Gimli gaped at his friend, but both Aragorn and Faramir began to laugh heartedly.

"Yes, Gimli, please see his highness safely to his room, and make sure he stays there. According to Arwen, he has a tendency to wander when he has been drinking this much. You might lock his balcony door…" the King paled slightly. "It would not do to find he had fallen from that height. I must see the Queen back to our quarters, hopefully without witnesses to her condition," Aragorn glared again at the wobbly prince.

Gimli sighed, "He really did suggest she not join in, Aragorn. She insisted…some unfinished contest from centuries ago. He beat her fairly." The dwarf grinned. "If we had not been drinking grape juice, I dare say, Faramir and I would have been out an hour ago. I'm impressed with the lad."

Faramir frowned slightly, before inquiring, "But do elves suffer from hangovers? I fear he may not feel so well in the morning." He grimaced, "or the Queen either, for that matter."

A slow smile crossed the King's face. "They will both get what they deserve. Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I will see my wife off to bed."

Faramir and Gimli bowed to the King, while Legolas leaned against a wall with unfocused eyes.

"Come on, laddie. Let's get you to bed too." Gimli shook his head in amusement when the faintest of snores came from the elf. "Now who isn't going to get any sleep, hm?"

Together the dwarf and the Steward half carried the Lord of Ithilien back to his room. After tucking the princeling in, Gimli settled on the balcony with his pipe and decided it had been quite a successful birthday celebration, after all.

The End

A/N - Well...that was fun! Hope you liked it! Please review.

NiRi