BETA: nautika and Rhapsody
Happy Birthday, Wimsey!
To Represent the Elves
by Nieriel Raina
In the Wilds
3019 Third Age
"Do elves play games?" The small voice came from beside him, and Legolas looked down at the small, curly headed Hobbit. Their mission to protect the Ringbearer kept him diligent and alert to danger. He rarely spent time with the smaller members of their fellowship, instead scanning the horizon and listening for danger, but the Hobbits made sure he did not forget they were there.
"Games?" he asked, drawing his brows together in feigned misunderstanding.
Pippin nodded, reaching up to scratch the back of his head. "Yes, games. You know, like chase and tag, or catch the ball, or flipping a button and moving pegs around a board to see who can finish first. Games."
"Ah, yes, Master Peregrin, elves do play such games," he paused as Pippin beamed, "but they are, for the most part, played by children. I am one of the youngest in my home, but it has been many years since I have played those kinds of games."
The Hobbit cocked his head to the side, looking up at him, with curiosity in his bright eyes. "But you don't look that old, Legolas."
"Master Legolas, Pip!" Merry piped up from in front of them, and Legolas nearly stumbled at the term. He preferred to dispense with formalities.
"Oh, sorry," the younger Hobbit did not miss a beat, "But you don't look that old, Master Legolas." Pippin blinked, and the expression on his face was so innocent, it pierced his heart. Would the young Peregrin lose that innocence on this quest? Legolas feared it was so.
"Legolas will do, Master Peregrin," he said with a smile, wishing it were sincere and not forced.
"If I'm going to call you 'Legolas', you have to call me 'Pippin'."
His smile no longer felt forced. "Pippin then," he agreed. "I am an elf, Friend Pippin. My appearance has not changed in many ennin."
"What's an ennin, Legolas? I bet Frodo knows, but he's walking way up there with Sam, Bill and Gimli, so I can't be asking him. And Gandalf is sure to know, too, and Strider, but they're not back here, and we are."
"Pippin!" Merry's voice was exasperated as he looked over his shoulder at them. "He can see where everyone is; he's an elf!"
"Of course, he's an elf," Pippin exclaimed, shaking his head. "Anyone can see he's an elf. He just said he was an elf, and Lord Elrond said he was to represent the elves, so he'd have to be an elf to do that, and Bilbo said he met Legolas in Mirkwood, and Mirkwood is where Bilbo met the Elvenking, and..."
Legolas' smile became a grin, and light laughter escaped him unhindered. He did not think the charm of these hardy beings would ever become taxing. He enjoyed getting to know them, but lack of time prevented him from doing so to great extent. After the Council of Elrond, he traveled with many patrols seeking sign of the Nazgul, and since leaving Imladris a week prior, Legolas scouted ahead, watched and listened, counseled with Aragorn and Gandalf, and avoided the dwarf and Man of Gondor. Silence was his mantle, caution his guide.
Personal interaction with the hobbits was rare, though he enjoyed listening to them speak among themselves. His heart began to lighten from the heaviness of their mission, finding Pippin's ramblings quite entertaining.
Pippin stopped talking and looked up at him with raised brows. "What did I say?"
Legolas placed a hand on the Hobbit's shoulder. "I simply enjoy your company, Peregrin Took, and that is no mistake," he finished, borrowing a line from Sam. He knew the humble gardener near the head of their party could not hear him, and he winked down at Pippin who grinned back.
"Well, now that you are talking and not being so quiet, I like you, too." The Hobbit shifted his pack, tugged at the straps and sighed.
"Would you like me to carry that for awhile, my friend?" Legolas did not like seeing the small hobbits in discomfort.
"Oh, no you don't!" Pippin's fingers tighten on the straps of his pack, much to Legolas' amusement. "You have to carry your own pack. I'm a Hobbit! I can carry my weight."
Legolas snorted, and in front of them, Merry's posture straightened and his shoulders began to shake. But the Took did not seem to notice. His comments went on non-stop. "You never told me what an ennin was, Legolas. And why you don't play games anymore."
"An ennin is a measurement of time that the elves use. When one is immortal, years and decades are too short a time to count."
"But how long is it?"
Merry glanced back with a frown at his cousin's interruption, but Legolas paid it no heed. "One hundred and forty-four years."
Legolas glanced down when there was no comment, no hurried question, for a moment fearful some harm had befallen him unnoticed. But the young Hobbit still walked beside him - eyes wide, mouth agape. "Pippin?" No answer. "Peregrin Took!"
Pippin's head jerked round and up to meet his eyes. "On-one hu-hundred? And forty-four? Y-years?" Legolas nodded, keeping his amusement to himself. He did not want the mischievous Hobbit to think he was teasing him. "And...and you-you've not changed in many? How old are you anyway?"
Legolas dropped his eyes. What was age to a race that was immortal? He was one of the youngest elves in all of Middle-earth, yet older than all the members of their company combined, with the exception of Gandalf. He glanced at Pippin, wanting to see his expression when he answered. "I have watched the seasons pass for almost fourteen ennin."
He was not disappointed. The Hobbit's feet just stopped, and his mouth dropped open, chin nearly resting on his chest. Legolas paused with him, waiting for a response, while the rest of their companions moved on. Bringing up the rear had its advantages. 'F-f-fourt-t-t-teen?" Pippin gaped with wide eyes.
Legolas inclined his head with a soft smile. "Yes."
Pippin shook his head, closed his mouth and began to walk once more. Legolas took up position beside him, glancing down now and again. After a short time, the Hobbit smirked. "Well, it's no wonder you don't play games no more. You're so old!"
His own jaw dropped at his young friend's words, and a snort was heard from above.
A few paces ahead, Aragorn was waiting for them to catch up. "Do not argue, Legolas." The ranger grinned wickedly. "How many times have you tried to explain your vast wisdom and experience to me? It would not do for you to now admit you are little more than a..."
Legolas laughed as the acorn he had tossed hit the man square on the forehead. Pippin gasped, and then covered his mouth as he snickered. "I take it back, Legolas. You know how to play just fine."
Legolas ignored the glare of the ranger as he moved past, allowing the Dunadan to take up the rear position. Steering Pippin by the arm, he moved them up in the line of walkers, safe from any retaliation. "I have decided the next time we stop to rest, I shall teach you a game with sticks and rocks."
The Hobbit nodded with excitement and ran ahead to where Frodo and Sam walked, and Legolas could hear Pippin telling them what he had learned. He ignored the glances his way from the Ring-bearer and his gardener, turning his attention back to the world around them. The wind whispered in his ear, while the tree song harmonized with the melody of a nearby stream. His determination to keep the company from harm was now strengthened by the inquisitive charm of a Hobbit.
A/N - I am using the word 'ennin' to denote an elvish Long Year equivalent to 144 years, and while it technically means a Valian year, my reasoning is that the Sindar folk would have no need of a word for Valian years and that it has evolved to have the same meaning as the Quenya 'yen'. I am using 'ennin' as both singular and plural.
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