The Song of Life
by Aranel Laerien

"Sing us a song, Legolas," Sam asked suddenly.

The elf turned in surprise, then shook his head. "Not now," he finally said.

Sam tried unsuccessfully to hide his disappointment.

"Sam, let Legolas rest," Frodo spoke up from beside the hobbit. "Even an elf would be weary after today's hike."

"Yes," Pippin chimed in. "We have only left Rivendell. Surely you have heard enough of their songs?"

Sam protested immediately. "No! You can never have enough of them."

"So, what song would you like?" The elf had an amused smile on his face.

Sam was instantly quiet. "I hadn't actually thought of that." His face began to grow red.

Merry slapped his forehead exaggeratedly, eliciting a laugh from Pippin.

"Oh, Sam," Frodo smiled. "Maybe you would like to wait till the morning then?"

Sam nodded mutedly and was silent. Somewhere a little further, the soft giggling of Merry and Pippin drifted into the night.

"What are they saying?" Frodo asked the elf, looking to where Gandalf was still in agitated conversation with Aragorn, Boromir and Gimli.

Legolas paused imperceptibly, then lightly summarised, "They speak of the road ahead."

Frodo nodded in grim understanding, and for a moment, Legolas felt a sense of unjust at the burden this young hobbit suddenly had to bear. He could have been beside the fire in the warmth and comfort of his home, but now, here he was, beside this small makeshift flame within a partially-veiled cave where the wind howled through the wide entrance.

Aragorn came over and joined them.

"Strider, what's going on?" Sam asked as soon as the man sat down.

Aragorn let out a sigh. "Many things," he said. "We set off for Caradhras tomorrow."

Sam tried to determine what this information meant. "Would there be any, you know, creatures?"

The man almost laughed. "Foul creatures are everywhere, Sam."

The company quietly contemplated this. True, even the hobbits had not expected things to be smooth or easy, but the fear those wraiths instilled was not easily forgotten – and they may meet worse things yet.

"There is a song in everything that lives," Legolas cut in softly, observing how Sam perked up at this. "If you listen, you hear the trees sing of wisdom, the flowers sing of beauty, the grass sing of growth. Everywhere, you can still hear the harmony of what Eru sang in the Creation. The moon still sings the stories of time, the stars still sing of hope…"

"But in you," Legolas looked at each of the others in turn. "In you, lies the song of life. This is the song that tells of all beautiful things you have seen, all the beautiful things that have ever been…"

"Like Rosie Cotton, dancing with the ribbons in her hair…"

"And all the cheerful sounds, the smells, the tastes of all that has life…"

"And strawberries…"

"This is the song you will never, ever forget. This is the song, above all songs, that you shall recall when all around you seems lost. This is the song which gives you hope; this is the song of life."

There was a strange silence. The air seemed to be whispering a melody of its own, the cave pulsated rhythmically; deep in the dark, flowers shuffled in the breeze, accompanied by the distinct hum of insects.

Then, Aragorn shook his head sadly. "But in any case," he said, "Learn to use a blade; you will need it."