Chapter 3. A Magical Moment
Legolas’s brief conversation with the Lady had lifted a weight from his heart, and his high spirits were enhanced further by the heart warming display of affection he had witnessed between Elisiel and Gimli. He chuckled at the thought that a simple kiss could cause his friend to blush so, for the normally gruff and very worldly Dwarf, judging by the bawdy songs he had heard Gimli sing on the rare occasions he had accompanied his friend to the taverns of Minas Tirith, rarely displayed his more sensitive side even to his dearest friend, let alone a perfect stranger. Legolas was undecided as to whether he should join them or allow the two more time to become acquainted but in the end the decision was taken out of his hands.
Although the distance between Galadriel’s pavilion and the tree beneath which his friend and his nana were seated measured no more than perhaps thirty paces, twilight was fast approaching before Legolas managed to walk it as his progress was frequently halted by those wishing to personally welcome him home. Many of those who approached him were friends from Eryn Lasgalen that he had not seen for centuries and he eagerly accepted an invitation to sit with each small group and exchange news. Occasionally he glanced across the clearing and was pleased to see that Gimli and Elisiel were talking and laughing together as if they had known each other for years. “I wonder if Adar would be angered by Nana’s obvious approval of one of whom he does not,” mused Legolas soberly, the brightness in his eyes dimming slightly as he thought of Thranduil, so very far away. His sadness turned to an inward smile as he reminded himself that Elisiel was the only Elf either here or in Arda whose displeasure the formidable King would not willingly court. Legolas had rarely heard his parents disagree, and even when they had done so, Thranduil never raised his voice in anger to his wife as he did with everyone else, his son included.
Finally Legolas excused himself from the merry company with promises to accept dinner invitations and the like, and made his way back to the two new friends beneath the tree. He sat cross legged on the grass beside Elisiel and had barely made himself comfortable when the sound of sweet elvish voices filled the air with a song of welcome for Eärendil. As the mariner began his journey across the evening sky the bonfire in the centre of the clearing burst into flame, signalling the start of the festivities. When the singing ended, partners were eagerly sought as the musicians turned their talents to playing lively dance tunes.
“Ah, Legolas beware, the dancing has already begun,” teased Gimli with a smirk that did not escape Elisiel’s notice, nor did her son’s groan of dismay.
“Surely as you have grown older you have overcome your aversion to the multitude of elf maidens seeking you as their partner?” Elisiel asked surprised by her son’s response.
“I have not had to deal with that situation for many years, ever since I moved to Ithilien as it happens. Most of the females who moved there were already wed or betrothed,” replied Legolas with a shrug.
“Although his ‘aversion’ as you call it, Elisiel, did prevent him from attending many of the balls in Minas Tirith and of those he did grace with his presence, Arwen had to practically force him onto the dance floor,” taunted Gimli, choosing to ignore the flash of anger in Legolas’s eyes.
“And I was so hoping to be the envy of all as I danced with the most handsome Elf in Valinor,” sighed Elisiel wistfully, playing along with the Dwarf whose sense of humour was much like her own.
“I can refuse you nothing, Nana, as well you know,” Legolas said, smiling affectionately at the rather obvious hint. Taking her hand, he lifted it up to his lips and kissed the delicate fingers tenderly. “Will you dance with me, my lady?” he asked in his most formal manner.
“Ai, it would please me greatly to accept, kind sir,” replied Elisiel in the same manner. “Please excuse us, Gimli,” she said as she eagerly allowed her son to lead her into the midst of the merrymakers.
The Dwarf was content to sit and watch the elegant and graceful moves of the Elves as they danced, and he had to admit that although there was an abundance of comely faces amongst the male Elves, Legolas’s was indeed more so than most.
His musings were cast aside when the aroma of freshly baked bread tickled his nose and caused his stomach to remind him it was time to seek sustenance. He walked about the clearing and quickly found the tables that were now laden with the many and varied dishes prepared for the feast. Filling his plate and his tankard, and he wisely decided that a solid surface beneath his platter was preferable to trying to balance it on his knees while eating as would be the case if he remained sitting on the grass. Gimli was considering which table was closest to the barrel of ale, and was about to take a vacant place at the one he deemed most suitable, when merry voice spoke into his ear.
“Friend Gimli, it is good to see you again.” As the slightly startled Dwarf turned, his scowl turned to a huge grin as a familiar face smiled down at him, and a friendly had clasped his shoulder.
“Well met, Gandalf!” he exclaimed pleased to see the Istar again.
“It seems I have found you just in time. I see you are about to enjoy this fine feast, but Galadriel has sent me to ask that you join her and some of her other guests instead. Legolas and his mother are among them,” he added with a wink. Gimli did not really fancy dinning alone, and he was all too willing to grant any request Galadriel made of him.
“It would be my pleasure,” said the Dwarf, still carrying his repast as he followed Gandalf back to the pavilion. To his surprise there was no one else at the table as yet. “I see that Legolas is still dancing with Elisiel, but where are the others?” asked Gimli as he watched his friend help himself to small helpings of several of the dishes set out before them.
“As soon as Elrond and Celebrían have finished speaking with Galadriel they will join us,” he replied.
“This certainly makes a welcome change from lembas, and the steady ground beneath my feet makes eating even more enjoyable,” commented the Dwarf. Gandalf raised an eyebrow.
“Am I to understand your voyage was less than pleasant? Galadriel says Legolas told her that you were ill for most of the journey.” To Gimli’s ears, Gandalf sounded as if he already knew the answer and merely sought to make conversation.
“Let us just say that I will readily admit that sea faring is best left to Elves and Men. The only affliction Legolas suffered was to become drunk with delight,” grumbled the Dwarf.
“I expect you were reacting to your apprehension about accompanying your friend to Valinor and the reception that awaited you? Am I right?” Gimli nodded, unable to reply for his mouth was filled with food. “Bilbo and Frodo felt likewise, even though they were accustomed to the Elves in Rivendell.”
“And what of Sam?” asked Gimli.
“Dear Samwise was thrilled to see Frodo again and nothing but fascinated by everything. He really enjoyed his time here, he even built himself a small talan, much to Frodo’s amusement,” said Gandalf with a sad smile as he fondly recalled the Hobbits.
“Did he indeed! Well, I hope Legolas does not hear of it, he already has some fool notion that I am willing to learn to climb trees and I am sure he will challenge me to do as Samwise did,” declared the Dwarf, his distaste at the thought apparent in his scowling face. Gandalf laughed heartily as he tried to conjure an image of the Dwarf living happily several feet from the ground. The silvery sound of Legolas’s merry laughter joined his, not because he could see what Olórin was thinking, which of course he could not, but because of the look on the Dwarf’s face. The Elf had overheard Gimli’s comment as he and Elisiel, approached, temporarily deserting the dance in favour of accepting Galadriel’s invitation to dine.
“Nay, after seeing how your are affected by the rolling of the waves, I do not think you are suited to live in a talan that sometimes moves with the sway of the trees or the strong breath of the wind,” Legolas assured him in his best long suffering manner before turning his attention to the Istar. “Greetings, Olórin, I am pleased to see you again,” he said with a respectful bow.
“Welcome home my young friend, I am pleased to see your spirit shines brightly with happiness once more,” replied Olórin. “You also are more radiant now that you have your son by your side my Lady,” he added as he gallantly drew back a chair and offered the seat to Elisiel.
“And you are as charming as ever,” she replied, accepting with a warm smile.
“Do your charms extend to us, my dear Olórin?” asked Galadriel as she moved to take a seat, followed by Elrond and Celebrían.
“Of course, Glorfindel is not the only one who enjoys being surrounded by lovely ladies,” he replied facetiously, ignoring the smirk on Elrond’s face. Gimli and Celebrían were introduced, Legolas then exchanged greetings with the two Elves from Imladris, and after initial enquiries as to their trip, and it came as no surprise that the conversation turned to the happenings in Middle-earth. In response to a question from Olórin, Legolas and Gimli, in their usual bantering style, told of their travels together after the War, and there was much laughter as each tried to recall some of the humorous misadventures as well. Olórin laughed uproariously when he heard that the Elves who returned to Ithilien with Legolas, and the Dwarves who had journeyed on to Aglarond had actually travelled south together, and he sorely regretted that he had not been there to witness such a momentous occasion. Or the look that must have been on Thranduil’s face. Elisiel was thinking along the same lines
“How did your Adar feel about it?” she asked, her eyes alight with mirth as she imagined her beloved husband’s likely unpleasant response.
“At first he tried to forbid it,” said Legolas with the slightest of shrugs.
“As I would expect, but what changed his mind?”
“I did. I told him that as leader of the new colony, it was my decision to make, and that since Dwarves would always be welcome in my forest I saw no reason not to travel together. Adar accepted my argument, and told me he was proud of the Elf I had become,” he stated simply.
“As am I,” said Elisiel as she placed her hand over his where it rested on the table.
“Will you tell us of the Fourth Age?” asked Elrond, ever the interested historian.
Legolas briefly outlined the highlights of Elessar’s reign and the restoration of both Ithilien and Eryn Lasgalen, and Gimli spoke in great detail about Aglarond. He told of the many early battles to establish borders with those countries not inclined to accept the new King, and of the many skirmishes with the remnants of Sauron’s army. The brevity of his description was sufficient for all but the Lore Master, but when he began to ask more intricate questions, Galadriel suggested that perhaps he and Legolas could take the time you record the historical events in detail later.
“Will you tell me of my grandson, and his sisters,” whispered Celebrían, her eyes bright with unshed tears for the kin she would never know. Knowing how near to the surface her son’s grief at the loss of Aragorn and Arwen still lingered, Elisiel tightened her grip on Legolas’s hand silently telling him to draw on her strength to tell what he could of his dear friends’ happiness and the children born of their love. He and Gimli shared their impressions of the happy childhood the prince and princesses shared, and how they had all grown into fine young adults.
“Eldarion has inherited a rule that was finally at peace and prospering. I believe he and his wife were expecting their first child to be born not long after Gimli and I sailed,” he said finally, wishing he could take back his last words as Elrond’s face became a mask of sorrow and Celebrían gasped as if in pain.
“And what of my sons,” she asked. “Have you seen much of them over the years?”
“Ai, we last spoke when they visited my village after Aragorn’s funeral. I told them of my plans and they mentioned that they were likely to follow shortly after I left. They were unwilling to leave until their sister no longer walked in Arda, but they did give me a message for you, my lady,” he told Celebrían.
“What message?” she asked her eyes aglow with excitement at the mere mention of her beloved twins. Legolas glanced at Olórin, who nodded silent acknowledgement to some secret, unspoken question from the young Elf. Legolas rose from the table and moved to stand before Celebrían. He took her hands and as he did so, the air seemed to crackle in a fashion not unlike when lightning was about to strike. Celebrían felt a tingle in her fingers where they touched Legolas and his warm breath tickled her ear as he spoke softly into it.
“Close your eyes and imagine it is not I, but your sons who are by tour side.” When she did as he asked, Legolas gently kissed first her right cheek. “Elladan sends his love,” he said tenderly then just as gently he kissed her left cheek. “Elrohir does also.” Legolas looked somewhat drained but Celebrían was positively radiant.
“What just happened?’ asked a very curious Gimli.
“When Legolas kissed my cheeks, it was as if my sons were really here. His lips felt not like his, but like theirs, different from each other, yet the same. I felt as if I was holding their hands and could sense their hearts; Elladan’s with his inner strength, and Elrohir with his gentleness. Thank you, Legolas, that was a lovely image,” she said as tears of joy traced a path across cheeks that still tingled where they had been kissed.
“You are more than welcome. I merely carried the memory locked away in my mind, ‘twas Olórin who had the key to unlock it,” he explained.
“I suppose you still have some powers as you had Arda, eh Gandalf?” asked Gimli who always expected some kind of ‘magic’ from the old wizard.
“More than you would believe even if I told you,” replied the Istar in his usual unenlightening fashion. Gimli grunted with exasperation, experienced enough with the Istar’s skill at avoidance to know no further information would be forthcoming and so he wisely allowed his curiosity to fade, at least for the moment.
The issue of Gandalf and his wizardry was raised again much later that night after Legolas and his Nana had had their fill of dancing and merrymaking and he and Gimli were escorting Elisiel back to her home where they would naturally stay until they decided otherwise. The Dwarf decided to ask exactly how much Elvish power the old man possessed and Legolas and Elisiel who were walking arm in arm a short distance in front of Gimli exchanged a knowing smile and stopped to answer the question.
“He may outwardly appear to be an Elf. He has an ethereal glow about him and eyes made of starlight, but he is in fact, a Maiar and so has powers none of us fully understand,” explained Legolas.
“Have you had too much wine, Legolas? Gandalf does not in the least look like an Elf; he is still the same white haired old man who was part of the Fellowship.”
“It is Olórin who permits us to see him as he wishes, dear Gimli, not the wine. He is not really a living person, but a spirit belonging to the Valar. To Elvish eyes he looks like an elf with a stunning inner glow, and his that glitter with merriment. To you he is apparently still Gandalf.”
“Gandalf, Mithrandir, Olórin… he has almost as many names as Aragorn had!” declared Gimli. Legolas could not help but smile at the comparison. “And all this talk of spirits and mystical powers seems like nonsense to me, so he will remain plain old Gandalf as far as I am concerned,” declared Gimli stubbornly.