Notes: The second part of "What They Fear" involves references to actual people and places as well as a few intentional illogicalities concerning the flora and fauna of Middle-earth. The characters are still out of character. Disrespect toward anyone or anything aforementioned is unintentional.
Part 2 of 2: Aftermath or Payback in Elven Style
Legolas had been hiding in the tree, waiting for the manic fan girls to come after him. When no one came, he relaxed, and as the blind panic passed, he began to think straight. In the light of the few comments he had been able to hear from his hiding place, it seemed that Aragorn had made the whole thing up. Legolas' regal blood began to boil. None made fool of the Elves, especially of an Elf who was privy to many secrets. In the years Legolas had known Aragorn, he had spotted only one weakness, and he intended to use it to get even. He climbed down and went on to track down Aragorn, who had gone after Gimli.
Boromir stopped running when he thought there was enough distance, and paused to think. This Lady of Lothlórien was a powerful sorceress, that much he knew, but even a sorceress could be wrong, right? If he was to alter his course of action, the future would surely be changed, and he could avoid his horrid destiny. Boromir was not referring to death, for surely some things were even more frightening. He only had to convince Aragorn that the interest was not mutual. Unconvinced that the subtle hints would do the trick, he decided to take the matter directly to the ranger. Satisfied with his newfound resolve, Boromir went on to look for Aragorn, after making sure he had his sword tightly hanging from his side and his shield within an easy reach, too.
"Fool of a porcupine!" Gimli shouted and swung his axe angrily. "You have spines enough for all the Dwarves, and you cannot share!" The porcupine he had found was not cooperating, and since it was only a young one and slightly injured, it chose to hide inside a deep, porcupine-sized burrow on the ground. Gimli hadn't been able to sweet-talk the porcupine to come out, and was now losing the last of his patience. Frustrated, he threw his axe to a nearby tree and spent the following minutes getting it down from the tree.
Meanwhile, the poor animal had already escaped Gimli's rage, for it was no fool, and Gimli turned his attention to other spiny animals. He decided to go after hedgehogs and started surveying his surroundings with enthusiasm.
Just then, Aragorn caught up with him. "Any luck, Gimli?" he inquired, taking in the dwarf's uncombed hair and beard. Guess not, he answered his own question.
"The game here is extremely cunning, Ranger. Almost cunning enough to challenge the wits of a hunting dwarf!" Gimli snapped indignantly.
The challenge, Aragorn thought dryly. Aloud he said, "If you wish for hunting company, I could come with you. It would double the chances." Quadruple, more like it, he added silently.
Gimli paid little attention to him. He had spotted something interesting a mere fifteen yards away and was moving towards it silently as a hunting dwarf. A mile away, Legolas rubbed his delicate ears and shuddered.
"Gimli, just what are you doing?" Aragorn snarled impatiently. "Will you leave that wet muskrat alone? You won't make much of a comb out of him."
"What do you mean, Ranger? Can't you see all those lovely spines in its fur?" Gimli eyed the obviously hearing-impaired muskrat hungrily.
"It is wet. Of course it has spiny fur!" snapped Aragorn in frustration.
"Nonsense, Aragorn! He is just the way muskrats are in dwarven realms." That shut the Ranger's mouth. He stared at Gimli, then at the muskrat, then back at Gimli. Ignorance is bliss, Aragorn decided, and strode away from Gimli and Gimli's dwarven muskrat.
Pippin and Merry decided that it was finally safe to venture back to the camp. They found only Frodo reading there.
"Where is everybody?" cried Merry.
"I don't know. They took off, and I haven't seen them since. I've been reading Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams."
"I though his name was Fraud," commented Sam, who had come to make an appearance at the camp.
"Nah, it's Freud. Can you believe the things he writes?"
"Hey, if the book is about dreams, maybe you could explain something to me," exclaimed Pippin suddenly.
"Sure, Pip. Have you had interesting dreams lately?" asked Frodo with a self-appointed shrink in his tone.
"Now that you should ask, a week ago I—" Pippin started and continued with an half an hour explanation about a dream where he had been an orphaned Ringwraith, who had been raised by the Elves, but who felt there was an emptiness inside him. Thus, he had fled away from the Elves and married a horrid Dwarf maiden. Together, they had had even more horrid children that were all missing either the upper or the lower part of their bodies. Realizing that he could never have a normal family, the Ringwraith had fled again and ended up as a salesperson in Seven Elven, an yet more horrid elven grocery store chain. Pippin ended his story and looked expectantly at Frodo, who had stayed silent while the story had lasted. "Well, Frodo. What do you make of it?" exclaimed Pippin, unable to restrain himself, when the silence continued.
"I think I am not the one to answer that question. Maybe you had better consult Mr. Frau— Freud directly." Frodo tossed the book to Pippin, who started to eye it happily. He had already forgotten his previous question. Frodo gave sidelong glances to Sam and Merry and then shrugged it off. He had heard weirder things before; he just couldn't remember where or when. He dug out another book from his backpack and concentrated on reading Freud's Psychopathy of Everyday Life.
Aragorn was striding back to the camp, silently cursing Dwarves, Elves, and muskrats, and everything else he could think of. He was blissfully ignorant of his two pursuers, Legolas and Boromir, who had both arrived within his eyesight from different directions.
Aragorn stopped abruptly and surveyed his surroundings to see the man who had just spoken to him. Seeing his apparent confusion, both Legolas and Boromir halted and waited for his next move. Aragorn kept his hand tightly on the edge of Andúril, in case he was facing an ambush.
"Estel, do you not see me?"
There was that voice again. There was something very familiar about the voice, but Aragorn couldn't place it. He thought hard and took his best shot.
"Quit fooling around, Estel. It is I." The voice was getting frustrated. Just then, Aragorn saw it: Gandalf was standing a few feet away from him. The wizard was suspiciously transparent, but it was still Gandalf.
"Gandalf!" he cried. Further off, Boromir heard his shout, but could not quite make out the words spoken. Aragorn was obviously talking to someone or something. Remembering what had happened earlier, he realized that that damned witch Galadriel was now talking to Aragorn son of Arathorn— Stop right there, Boromir! he reprimanded himself. Let's not get into that.
I am not a witch.
Of course you are not, Milady. Never said you were.
The silence was icy.
I will let it pass this one time, Boromir son of Denethor.
My apologies, Milady. It will not happen again.
Very well, Boromir son of— I heard that!
Apologies, Milady. It's Boromir.
Very, well then, Boromir. About my previous prophecy—
"Will you be quiet already!" Boromir yelled hoarsely, loud enough to startle the hobbits back at the camp and Gimli the hunting dwarf to have a flashback of a dying orc's death rattle. Aragorn and the slightly otherworldly Gandalf gave Boromir a look and continued their discussion.
"What are you doing here alive and, furthermore, what are you doing in that?" Aragorn pointed at Gandalf's nightgown-like costume and nightcap in shock.
"Let's just say that rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. And these are my leisure clothes. Like them?"
"No. What rumors, for Valar's sake? I saw you die."
"Very well, stubborn Dúnadan. Believe what you will. I have come to warn you of a great peril on your journey."
Now, there's something new, sighed Aragorn. "Yes?"
"One of you will fall. You must prevent this. Get close to him and get him unburden his heart."
"Who?" Let it not be Gimli, Aragorn prayed silently. He had just had enough of Dwarves for the time being.
"There is only one other of the race of Men in the Company. For the sake of you all, reach out to him, before it is too late."
"It is Boromir, then." Finally, the news was good. Aragorn sighed with relief.
"Only one Man besides you, and he is the one you must befriend."
"Must you talk riddles? We both know it's Boromir. And while you are at it, where did you put all the combs? We are having a situation here."
"Seek this one Man before it is too late. Now, I must be on my way." The already transparent Gandalf began to fade even more, and Aragorn reached for his sleeve.
"Not so fast, Mithrandir. You will tell me where you put those combs, and I will let you go."
"Plague upon you, Aragorn son of Arathorn, if you do not release me."
"The combs. Where?" demanded Aragorn, grinding his teeth.
"They got stuck in my beard, and I left them there. Goodbye!" snapped Gandalf. Aragorn let go, and the agitated wizard disappeared.
Legolas had quietly observed Aragorn and Boromir's confrontations with the invisible with unconcerned amusement. Men, he sighed. Lord Elrond had no idea what he talked about when he said that we must place our hope in them in the battle against the dark forces. If they are your friends, who needs enemies? Seeing the men finish their respective discussions and start moving again, Legolas set off to meet Aragorn. It seemed that Boromir, too, was heading to the ranger, but that did not bother Legolas. The more the merrier, he chuckled.
Aragorn finally noticed Boromir and he decided that it was a perfect time to approach the man. They met and sat down in unspoken agreement. Boromir was slightly uncomfortable to have Aragorn sit so close beside him, but decided against moving further away. There was no reason for discourtesy when breaking the news to the wretched man.
There was silence.
Boromir took his courage in both hands. "It seemed to me you had a little talk with the witch, too."
"I prefer talking about the wizard instead of witch, but yes, I did. I had no idea you two had spoken." Aragorn was surprised.
"We have. I heard some rather alarming things," Boromir said tentatively.
"As did I."
There was silence.
"Boromir, I want you to know that I am with you, whenever you wish to discuss this," Aragorn said and looked Boromir straight in the eye.
Boromir shuddered inwardly. It seems that the witc— lady was right after all. Why is he looking at me with such pleading eyes? No way, brother. I am not going there. "Aragorn, you know you have my utmost respect, but I fear I am not interested."
"Don't dismiss it 'til you try it, Boromir. It might be very illuminating for both of us." There was that look again.
"I fear my mind is already made up. Do not take it to yourself, Aragorn, for it has nothing to do with you." I said it, now I leave. So far so good, Boromir. Boromir stood up, as did Aragorn.
Legolas had been listening to the conversation and decided to show himself. No need to be hasty here. Revenge is a dish best served cold, he thought. Besides, the Elves have the patience of an . . . elf? Never mind, he reprimanded himself. Aloud, he inquired,"Am I interrupting something here, gentlemen?"
To the already-spooked Boromir, it sounded like "gentle men," and he shook his head vigorously. The Ranger, in turn, was caught off guard and uttered an unconvincing "no."
The three of them waited in silence, and Boromir moved to take his leave. Now or never, decided Legolas, and spoke aloud the one thing that should never be spoken in the presence of Aragorn son of Arathorn.
"Sock puppets!" he cried.
Aragorn acted with speed that would have made any Elf envious. He screamed like a Ringwraith on fire, looked around wildly and sought any kind of protection. In one swift movement, he ran straight into Boromir's arms and wrapped his arms around the poor Gondorian's neck tighter than a constrictor.
Boromir reacted with a speed rarely seen among Men: he yelled in terror and dropped Aragorn flat on his back. After that, he ran away, screaming something that sounded like 'filthy' and 'stained for life.'
Legolas watched the play, laughing his head off in a most unelven manner.
The sudden blow knocked the wind out of Aragorn and gave him time to come to his senses. He knew exactly who to thank for his new backache and he also knew why. "I guess we are even now, elf boy?" he said in a hoarse voice.
Legolas turned to Aragorn with sparkling eyes and uttered between bursts of laughter, "We are, o' fearless Dúnadan."
"Lend me a hand, elf. I can't get up."
"But of course."
Legolas grabbed Aragorn's hand and pulled him to his feet with one graceful sweep.
Aragorn stood, catching his breath, but one look at Legolas' joy made his lips twist. Before he knew it, he was laughing himself. Eventually, they calmed down enough to return to the camp.
Suddenly, Legolas stood still and listened intently. Aragorn halted, too, but he was unable to hear anything out of the ordinary. He turned around, and when he turned back, Legolas was gone. "Legolas? Legol—?" Then he heard it, too: the sounds were distant but they were getting closer. Aragorn could hear ecstatic voices repeating time after time, "Legolaaas. Legolaaas. Leggyyy." He shook his head in exasperation, but then heard another slogan, and his skin turned ashen. Some of the voices, though they were quieter, kept repeating, "Aragorn. Aragooorn. Strideeer."
The fearless Dúnadan fled.
Review, please. It takes only a minute of your time, but it brightens up my day.
Many thanks to everyone who has reviewed the story over the years! Special congratulations to all who spotted the sock puppets reference and placed it correctly with The Simpsons (season 6, episode 11, Fear of Flying).
Layout updated and grammar revised lightly July 5, 2008. Revised 2010.
Published September 4, 2002.