Hi chaps - this is my first foray into LoTR fanfic and certainly one of my first attempts at first person narrative - I wanted to try something out. If I've failed, then we've all learned something! Anyway, this isn't set anywhere or at any time in particular, that's not what I wanted to concentrate on. Hope you enjoy it, reviews or concrit welcome and this is entirely sans beta so if I've mucked it up, it's entirely my own fault.
I'm sure you've all walked through this forest; the one that makes you want to write.
The forest we walk in is thick with moss and loam, masking the heavy footsteps of weary feet. We walk scattered; close enough to see one another but far enough to be alone with our thoughts. And dark they are.
We think of destinies and things left behind us: things unsaid and things we wish we could take back; the thoughts of men who are sore and weary and starting to wonder whether our kin will ever see us again. Thoughts of how we would do it all again if only we had the chance; thoughts we should not be left alone with and that turn a man's heart to ash if he allows them rein. My thoughts are my own, and so I tame them and turn them and wake from this walking sleep.
I turn instead to what we walk through; a deep wood that will take us less than a day to traverse. It is old and gripped in winter but somehow still green; the moss is thick and grows up the trunks of gnarled old oak and apple just as it touches the elm and the ash. Yellow-green flushes of lichen bloom where the sun touches bark; starbursts of reds and ambers in the lower reaches and on the stones that look apologetic and overwhelmed by such verdant life, even in winter. I look then to my left, where I know the elf shadows my every stride and am suddenly given pause to think, struck again by how a part of this world he is. He is a moving part of this forest; he is possibly older than every growing thing within the wildwood and he moves as though it is his birthright to tread this land. And perhaps it is.
The fury of the winter wind is in his feral blue eyes. He is grace itself and his voice is the morning glow of the sun, warming us all who hear it. He is a wild thing, as much as the land and the seasons and the forest that we walk through but he is also as swift to change, as sudden in his anger and changeable in his moods. Born as I was to a sturdy, strong people he seemed at first so impossibly frail and delicate but no more. I have seen him fight as though he were dancing, I have seen him slaughter Orcs as though reaping the wind, I have felt the thrill of fear all must feel when trapped in his full gaze and I no longer believe him weak or delicate. I believe him a thing of odd, wild beauty.
I watch him tilt his face imperceptibly to the wind; testing the air and sampling the scents upon it like a cat. I see him trail his fingers against every tree that he passes close enough to reach, greeting them – or so he says. What a thing, to speak to trees!
He sees me looking at him and he smiles and then laughs. In the silence beneath the spread of the trees his laugh is a sudden and unexpected thing, but it is light and joyful. He is happy, and he is at home. The others look over, surprised at such a sound – the kind of laughter only shared by the truly young and the truly free – and eyes so heavy with woe and weariness lighten. Aragorn looks to Boromir and the Steward's son moves closer. The two begin to talk.
Legolas moves across the ground lightly and holds out a clenched fist – I reach out because I can do no less and he deposits an acorn in my hand. It is nut brown with a thousand warm hues within in and I wonder where on Arda he has found an acorn so fresh and new at this time of year. At my puzzled expression he laughs again; rich and deep and I can't help but feel my own mouth twist into a wry smile. How infuriating!
I slide the acorn into my pocket for no reason I would ever admit to.
My knowledge of elves is rudimentary at best – and I am beginning to wonder the legitimacy of half of what I have learned – so I take my lessons from Legolas. In turn I teach him to live in the world of mortal men, which I am beginning to suspect is new to him. For a creature to live to his age and not spend any amount of time outside of his own people is unfathomable to me but it is apparent in a number of ways: the Eldar's concept of time, for one. Days and nights blur to weeks and months and then years. Decades lead to ages and the Firstborn think little of it. There is no urgency to anything when one can potentially walk the lands of Arda until the mountains fall, and Legolas is drattedly cursed with this trait. He is a warrior of his father's realm but I am starting to wonder whether the enemies that he has faced prior to now were simply very slow walkers, or whether Legolas' tendency to lose track of hours at a time is simply something that kicks in when he knows he is not threatened. I do not know. I am attempting to instil upon him a better awareness of time in the hope that it sinks in before he is killed. From what I have heard of King Thranduil, it is worth the hours of haranguing.
Aragorn calls to us and whilst I slip and slide – harrumphing and grumbling – over the slippery moss and wind fallen wood, the dratted elf fair enough dances over to the Ranger. They speak in a language that flows and trips over their tongues like a song effectively shutting us out. Boromir has told me he understands some Sindarin, but what Legolas speaks is a dialect of Silvan and Sindarin spoken only by the elves of Eryn Lasgalen, and which Aragorn speaks. They have known each other of old, I know this, but being left out stings.
Legolas sees me approach, smiles, and speaks the Common Tongue in deference to me. I appreciate it in a way I will never show him and instead grumble something about 'silly elvish jibber jabber' that he takes with a twinkling in his eye. We are making camp.
As the sun sets I find myself quite alone again and on the verge of sinking once more into my thoughts. The Hobbits are subdued, as they have been all day, and offer little refuge. They hold whispered council and shut us all out in uncharacteristic melancholy. Boromir has taken this moment to snatch what moments of sleep he can, Aragorn tends our small camp fire and hums beneath his breath with eyes that are not in this present. The elf left a while ago to scout the road ahead. He is tireless. But when he returns, he drops from the trees without a sound and makes a path straight to me.
He sits, and he smiles, and he offers me a drink from his water skin.
"Alu" he says. He has been steadily trying to teach me his language. I know not why.
I tip the skin to him in thanks and drink deeply. The water is sweet and cold; I cannot fathom where it came from – my own skin is full of brackish, unpleasant stuff – but he nods and seems satisfied and asking would break this moment of peace. His gaze turns to the darkness of the woods.
"Tell me of your home, Gimli" he asks.
The question is unexpected and it touches me. Many will speak of their own homes, few will ask of another's.
I look at him again and see for once the youth in him; I know already that he is counted young amongst his people.
I imagine that somewhere within the warrior that his father has created, within the endless years he has already seen and within the responsibility he carries as our eyes and ears and our deadly blade is a youth that was never meant to live this life. Perhaps even he seeks comfort in distraction and if his distraction is tales of my life then it is an honour. I consider for the briefest moment refusing; my memories of my home are mine, and not to be shared with any other. Especially not an elf. But then I think: here beside me sits something I never expected to find on this journey, something a man will often only find once or twice in his life and I know I should be honoured. Here beside me sits a friend. The oddest and most perturbing of friends, but quite strangely the easiest. He is feral and wild and I do not understand him, but I feel at peace with him. I am sturdy and strong and I understand the steady, grinding language of the earth whilst he speaks only the language of the birds and the wind and that which grows, but together we speak it all and the thought of the years in which we will spend translating the world to one another makes something within me clench and stutter. He is my friend.
And so I speak.
As I say, this is my first fanfic in a while and my first ever in this fandom. Hope you didn't hate it and it gave you a distraction for the few minutes it took to read, I enjoyed writing it so I guess we all win! (Although a bit of feedback would just make my day)